Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quaker Oats Preps 'Amazing' Plan

Aug 24, 2010

Consumers these days just don't have a lot of time on their hands. PepsiCo-owned Quaker Oats, however, hopes to be able to get them to stop and think—even if it's just for a moment—about the benefits of eating breakfast. Preferably, a Quaker breakfast.

Toward that end, a new campaign tagged, "Does your breakfast make you amazing?" launches next week. The effort is part of PepsiCo's push to grow sales of its Quaker business, which has faced private label pressure, but more importantly, a general category decline. (Agencies Juniper Park and OMD handle.)

The initiative also coincides with the launch of new products—including hot cereals and customizable, kid-friendly creations—to make oatmeal top of mind for many breakfast-skipping consumers. Per Quaker's research, an overwhelming majority of Americans say eating breakfast is important, but fewer than half of them actually do so. The company has also teamed up with Bob Harper, co-host of NBC's The Biggest Loser, to remind on-the-go consumers why they shouldn't skip the most important meal of the day.

Quaker CMO Kirsten Lynch (pictured above) spoke with Brandweek about the new effort:

Brandweek: Quaker Oats is launching a new campaign next week. Tell us about it.
Kirsten Lynch: The new campaign is all about stopping consumers and provoking them with one simple question: "Does your breakfast make you amazing?" It includes TV and print ads, as well as a whole online component and a consumer engagement program.

How did Quaker come up with the idea for it?
We've done research, and over 90 percent of consumers believe that breakfast is important. We see breakfast growing slightly, but over half of Americans still are not eating breakfast on a regular basis. . . . So, the idea is to really stop consumers with a thought-provoking question: "Does your breakfast make you amazing?" And to get them to think about how crucial eating breakfast is. And also that not all breakfasts are created equal, and Quaker is a great choice for breakfast.

Why are so many Americans not eating breakfast?
People are leading hectic lives. Look at what is going on with the economy. There's a lot of pressure on people and [eating breakfast] is about time and [it's also about] making it a priority.

Give us a snapshot of some of the creative elements.
We've got a great print campaign that shows the amazing potential of people every day when they have breakfast. We have a TV campaign that will launch that has an equity component of showing again the amazing potential of people when they eat breakfast. It also highlights the new [product news] on the business. We've got a couple of elements that are really critical here: We've got our core product news that we are sharing. [Its instant oatmeal is now made with larger, whole grain oats, has a heartier texture, and three varieties have 25 percent less sugar and all natural flavors.] And we've also got some new news to back it up: Mix-Up Creations Instant Oatmeal, which is oatmeal for kids and taps into the insight that kids love to make oatmeal themselves and customize it the way they want. And then Hearty Medleys Instant Multigrain Hot Cereal is another one of our innovations that completely transforms oatmeal. It has a whole grain texture, real fruits and nuts and is targeted towards adults and boomers.

Any social media in this launch?
We're driving our consumers to Facebook as part of a consumer engagement program, where we really start to transform how we interact with them. So, [we're moving] from just communicating in a one-way dialogue with advertisements and print in traditional media to [creating] an experience that is relevant to their lives, and provides them with content and a dialogue to help them realize their full potential and be amazing. We've partnered with Bob Harper as our coach to help with that and really create that personal connection with our consumers.

Why do you think this campaign is particularly timely now?
Now, more than ever, what consumers are looking for are realness and authenticity. And so, because we embody realness and authenticity and we're a trusted brand, now is a great time for Quaker to really be able to step it up and play a leadership role. It's about what we've [always] had, but it's also about what is going on in the cultural context and what consumers are really looking for in brands. And by that, I don't just mean products that stand for realness and authenticity.

What's going on in the category? Consumers, for one, are trading down to private label. Is that a big threat?
The hot cereal category, in particular, has been flat in the past three years, and then declining in the most recent. We used to believe that private label was a source of the decline, but actually, everyone is declining. The whole category is declining. This is really a category relevance [issue], and our job as the category leader is to step it up and figure out how to reinvigorate it. It gets back to this idea of, "Does your breakfast make you amazing?" and to get consumers to stop and think about what they had for breakfast and how that sets them up for their day. . . . So, it's not about a share game between us and private label. It's about taking a category leadership role.

This campaign really reminds us of Quaker Oats' big "Go humans go" ad effort last year. How does it build on that?
It's a nice evolution of where we were in 2009. With "Go humans go," we were really trying to elevate the role that the oat played and I would say that we are doing the same thing here. It's a very logical evolution and progression for us. 

Starbucks Adds a Few Doses of Flavor to Perk Up Its Packaged-Coffee Sales

Armed With a Buzzy Campaign, Giant Taps Retail Market With Natural Fusions

NEW YORK ( -- Coffee purists might turn up their noses at flavored coffee beans, but Starbucks' packaged-coffee division expects the category will be its next avenue of growth.

FEVER FOR THE FLAVOR: The primary target for the Natural Fusions line will be Starbucks customers who are going elsewhere for flavored coffees.
FEVER FOR THE FLAVOR: The primary target for the Natural Fusions line will be Starbucks customers who are going elsewhere for flavored coffees.

The coffee giant, looking to grab back flavored-coffee fans forced to seek out other brands, is rolling out caramel, vanilla and cinnamon coffee beans to retailers and supporting it with one of the most extensive campaigns it's ever done for its packaged-coffee division. It's an interesting move for the company, which has shunned flavored coffee beans in its own retail stores.

The line, dubbed Natural Fusions, may be somewhat of a departure, but so was Via. "Flavored coffee isn't the first thing you think of when you think of Starbucks, but they've shown they're willing to explore other platforms," said R.J. Hottovy, an analyst with Morningstar. "We've seen Via exceed expectations in the last year. So, it's a measured gamble for the company at this point."

Michele Waits, director-packaged coffee at Starbucks, said that after three years in development, Natural Fusions, created in partnership with Kraft, does live up to Starbucks' standards. It is more "coffee forward" she said, when compared to other flavored coffees on the market. The $377 million category is dominated by players including Dunkin' Donuts, Millstone and Godiva.

The impetus for the launch was two-fold. The company discovered that 60% of its bagged coffee customers were buying flavored coffee, albeit from competitors, because Starbucks didn't have an offering. And it was looking for ways to grow, beyond just line extensions and additional distribution.

"Starbucks really invented the premium-coffee category within grocery. Over the past couple of years, we've been building more and more distribution. We've got close to 90% reach now," Ms. Waits explained. "We were forced to regroup in '08 and '09 and figure out how we were going to grow beyond just extensions and new distribution. It's analogous to the door growth at our retail stores."

Ms. Waits said the primary target for the new products will be those Starbucks customers who are going elsewhere for flavored coffees. The secondary target will be flavored-coffee users who are not purchasing Starbucks. "Originally, we thought the more fertile ground would be the Starbucks user who hasn't bought flavored before. But those people are hard to convert," she said.

Ms. Waits says that during consumer testing, 75% of consumers said they intended to buy the product, which is above the norm for new-product testing. In terms of demographics, the group interested in the products tends to skew female, with the sweet spot being women aged 45-plus. That was pretty much what Starbucks expected. What was unexpected was that the products were still viewed as a morning coffee, rather than an afternoon treat.

"It's a variety play for [consumers]," Ms. Waits said. "It's still primarily a morning coffee. It's just going to be an addition to the repertoire."

The products won't be available in Starbucks' own retail stores just yet, but executives don't rule that out as a possibility. The packaged-goods division will be targeting loyalists and consumers who visit Starbucks' stores, however, through the Starbucks Rewards program.

Mr. Hottovy says he believes Starbucks could move Natural Fusions into its own stores, depending on how it performs at grocery in the coming months. "It could develop into a nice revenue stream for the company," he said.

"They've learned their lessons over the last decade about not getting too far out of the coffee-purist space. We won't see another venture in entertainment. But [we will see] reasonable extensions of current products," he added.
No TV is planned as of yet.

In addition to direct marketing, the campaign, which is rolling out now, will include print, digital, newspaper inserts, in-store marketing and sampling. Ms. Waits declined to comment on spending behind the effort. Starbucks spent $33 million on measured media last year, according to Ad Age's Leading National Advertisers report. Creative depicts a romance between the flavor -- a vanilla bean, cinnamon stick and cubes of caramel -- and the coffee bean. BBDO, New York is Starbucks' creative agency.