- General Mills opened a Cinnamon Toast Crunch Drive Thru in Tusayan, Arizona last weekend that looks like a giant box of cereal and carton of milk, according to the company. The promotion targeted families on road trips near the Grand Canyon.
- Jeff Mauro, celebrity chef and host of The Kitchen, created an original recipe specifically for the drive thru that was featured along with other Cinnamon Toast Crunch-inspired recipes such as Cinnamon Toast Crunch Road Mix, Cinnamon Toast Crunch-crusted fried PB&J and Cinnamon French Toast Crunch.
- The Drive Thru had a fun challenge for families to perform in exchange for a bowl of the cereal. Families were encourages to post their road trip stories on social media. "General Mills is always working on bringing cereal lovers fun, new ways to enjoy their cereal," Greta Hanson, marketing communication manager at General Mills, said in a release.
The Cinnamon Toast Crunch Drive may have been a fun, albeit unusual, way for families to enjoy the classic cereal in a food segment that has seen its fortune's wane. Cold cereal has faced a decline in recent years due to the consumer 's preference for portable convenience and a shift toward alternatives such as bars, shakes, yogurt and other handheld items that are viewed as healthier and less processed. Market research firm Euromonitor projects cereal will decline 2% in volume and 5% in sales during the next four years alone.
Millenials have moved away from consuming cereal in favor of more nutritious breakfasts. They also find preparing cereal and cleaning the dish is too time consuming. The Cinnamon Toast Drive Thru is an example of “experience” advertising that appeals to millennials by having them immerse themselves in the promotion more than traditional advertisements, according to AdAge.
Cereal companies such as General Mills and Kellogg have responded to the drop in cereal sales by turning to different innovation strategies. In an attempt to recapture consumer interest, many companies have transformed traditional products into different forms such as granola bars or breakfast squares. Kellogg's Special K cereal was even made into a quiche.
Traditional cereal also has been revamped in the fight to stay relevant. General Mills announced last year it would release two Girl Scout cookie-themed variety cereals. This may have coincided with the company’s efforts to separate the idea of cereal as purely for breakfast and to make it more relevant as a snack for anytime of day.
The Cinnamon Toast Drive Thru appeals to people not only through family fun but through the omnipresent lure of social media. However, despite these efforts, it seems unlikely that the promotion will be enough to reclaim consumer interest in an industry facing a drastic shift in consumer dining habits. For most families traveling to the Grand Canyon and other destinations this summer, they will likely turn to a bar, drinkable yogurt or another option rather than cereal — a product that is struggling to make gain traction at home and on the road.