- Cheerios, a General Mills product, will be debuting a new Chocolate Peanut Butter flavor this fall, according to delish.com. It will be available at major retailers nationwide by late October.
- General Mills made the official announcement this week by posting a photo of the all-new flavor to the Cheerios Instagram page.
- Multi-Grain Peanut Butter Cheerios were introduced in 2012, and Chocolate Cheerios are also available, making this a logical combination. It’s unclear if Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios will be a seasonal item, like Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, or available year-round.
Cheerios cereal is a food many Americans have been eating since their tiny toddler hands could grab them from a highchair tray. Classic Cheerios are high in fiber and low in sugar, making them an attractive breakfast option. Cheerios overall enjoy a health halo, which begs the question: Why introduce a chocolate peanut butter flavor?
One possible reason is its an attempt to lure back consumers who have swapped out a morning bowl of cereal for a portable option with an indulgent take on a childhood staple. Cereal is still the most popular breakfast food in the U.S., but since 2009, sales have dropped 17%.
General Mills is combating the loss by investing in digital advertising to promote the cereal as an "anytime" food. Millennials, who often enjoy cereal as an in-between meal snack or late at night, are targeted by this push. If consumers are enjoying a bowl of cereal as an afternoon or evening treat, it makes sense that they could be drawn to an indulgent flavor, like chocolate peanut butter. What seems less-than-healthy for breakfast doesn’t sound so terrible later in the day.
In addition, General Mills has found a receptive audience in the video game community, where Reese’s Puffs and Cinnamon Toast Crunch are fueling late-night sessions. The company even sponsors gaming tournaments. It’s a short leap from Reese’s Puffs to Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios. They could purposefully be targeting an audience that doesn’t care about the sugar content of their food with this latest launch.
Cheerios may lose a little of its healthy luster overall, but not too much. The brand already sells a chocolate flavor and a frosted flavor, so this shouldn't be much of a shock to consumers.
The trick for Cheerios will be striking the balance between healthy and indulgent without alienating consumers who favor one over the other. Cheerios still is by and large a better-for-you cereal brand. If they want to keep that desirable image, it would help to keep these new decadent flavors as the exception in their cereal lineup, and not the rule.