After years of reducing sugar in their products to win back consumers fed up with processed carbohydrates, some cereal makers have reversed course and are producing sugary varieties again, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Some of the latest arrivals are General Mills' Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios and Cinnamon Toast Crunch shredded wheat, and Kellogg's Chocolate Frosted Flakes.
The deciding factor is taste, Dana McNabb, president of cereal for General Mills, told the newspaper, adding that the sweeter products are racking up higher sales than the healthier versions. "What we realized is that trying to do the same thing across all of our cereals doesn’t work," she said.
Besides bolstering their core products, which have been slipping in the past few years, cereal makers are finding that turning out sugary treats in a box may also appeal to the indulgence factor with certain consumers as much as cleaner labels, whole grains and healthier ingredients — which they're continuing to produce.
As a result, these companies have been trying to reinvigorate sales by bringing back discontinued items and partnering with makers of well-known treats. Post recently resurrected its Oreo O's cereal and also introduced cookie-inspired Chips Ahoy! and Nutter Butter cereals. The latter two, only sold online and at Walmart for a limited time, appeal to shoppers' sense of exclusivity — as well as nostalgia, indulgence and the snacking trend.
More indulgence, more sugar and a sweet taste seem to driving this sugary cereal comeback, as well as more fun in a bowl. After reformulating its Trix brand to sport a cleaner label, General Mills decided to bring back the original recipe, including the artificial colors and flavors, because some consumers found the muted colors and flavors of the natural version lacking in appeal and taste.
The consumers of these sugary cereals could also offer a clue to their comeback. Traditionally, colorful, sweet cereals with cartoon characters on the boxes were targeted to children. Today's moms, however, find nutritional value to be the most important quality in food for their children, and six in 10 limit their sugar intake. Today's food offerings that actually target children tend to be healthy. Millennials, on the other hand, have a significant amount of buying power but may be interested in more nostalgic food choices like the marshmallow cereals they grew up with. Manufacturers have created versions of childhood products specifically for this demographic, including Nesquik with additional protein and grown-up versions of squeeze pouches.
Sweeter cereal options may be a case of having one's cake and eating it too. Consumers can still have healthy cereals in the morning, then treat themselves to more sugary options later in the day as a snack or dessert. Millennials with children of their own could even enjoy a bit of a sweet treat with their little ones and hearken back to the days of watching cartoons and chowing down on Lucky Charms. Cereal companies looking to reclaim market share are willing to cater to either scenario and seem to be enjoying some success so far.