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Kellogg’s gets magical with limited-edition Unicorn cereal

BY Gisselle Gaitan

Kellogg’s has announced a magical new addition to its portfolio — Unicorn Cereal. The product initially launched in the U.K. earlier this year and will now be hitting retail stores nationwide in the spring, specifically in March of 2018 for a limited time only.  

The new cereal will consist of red, blue and purple loops with white crunchlets. Also included will be a cupcake flavor that varies slightly from the yellow, purple and red U.K. loops, the company said. 

Before its official launch next year, those eager to try the product will be able to do so at the Kellogg’s NYC Café located in Union Square in Manhattan. A cereal-inspired menu featuring Kellogg's signature products, along with creations by lifestyle expert and reality star Lauren Conrad, await consumers at the location, along with a preview of the Unicorn Cereal, the company said. 

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Dogfish Head Craft Brewery introduces low calorie option

BY Gisselle Gaitan

Milton Del.,-based Dogfish Head Craft Brewery has introduced the SeaQuench Ale. The product is a 4.9% ABV, and is sour brewed with lime juice, lime peel, black limes and sea salt. Each 12-oz., serving contains only 140 calories and 9 carbohydrates, the company said.

"For SeaQuench Ale, we set out with two goals. First, to make an intensely approachable and flavorful lower calorie, lower carb, true indie craft beer.  Second, to objectively design the most thirst-quenching beer Dogfish has ever made as one that active-lifestyle beer fans will enjoy,” Sam Calagione, founder and CEO of Dogfish Head Craft Brewery said.

The new launch is a mash-up of the company’s three famously session-able beer styles: Kolsch, Gose and Berlinerweiss. It was sour brewed to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot or the German Beer Purity Law.

More information, including product availability and locations, can be found on the company’s website.

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Water world: Bottled water’s glow up

BY David Salazar

The still water market runs deep. Even as value brands dominate the category, much of the potential for growth resides in the premium segment, where brands are bringing innovation and message-driven marketing to bear on the ever-elusive millennial demographic. 

For the 52-week period ended Nov. 5, the total size of the U.S. multi-outlet convenience/PET still water category was $7.95 billion — a 4% increase over the year-ago period, according to IRI data. The still water category is dominated by big names — Nestlé Waters North America takes the top spot, followed by private-label vendors, Coca-Cola, Glaceau (owned by Coca-Cola) and PepsiCo.

Based on IRI data, several of the top-20 brands have seen their price per unit decrease, sometimes alongside decreases in total unit sales. Nestlé has eight brands within the top-20 brands, with three of them posting negative dollar sales growth over the year-ago period — with its Deer Park brand seeing a 4.95% dip in sales dollars and a 5% dip in unit sales. A further three value brands posted negative sales growth. The difficulties these brands are facing seem largely due to pricing pressure — eight brands saw their price per unit decline or stay flat over last year.

“In the third quarter, our water business declined, particularly in the developed markets,” Nestlé CFO François-Xavier Roger told investors in October when presenting the company’s 2017 nine-month progress report. “We faced difficult comparables and also poor weather, which has impacted demand in both North America and Western Europe. Competition remained intense with sustained deflationary pricing pressure across several developed markets.”

As this happens, Americans grow less interested in sugary beverages and more interested in water. The journal Obesity recently published research showing that between 2003 and 2014, consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages fell among both adults and children at the same time that the study’s researchers found a significant increase in water consumption.

IRI’s data shows that premium brands Fiji and Evian both had sales increases around the 20% mark, with Fiji sales growing 23.6%, Evian sales increasing 19.6% and the two companies pulling in nearly 5% of total dollar share in the category.

As value water brands are facing difficulty, premium is booming, and companies are looking to get their piece of the 7% not occupied by the 20 top brands and the 5% occupied by the biggest premium companies. They’re doing this while innovating both through marketing that looks to target consumers interested in storytelling and — in the case of one company — the basic premise of the bottle.

In the premium category, much of what drives consumer interest comes down to where water is sourced from — in the case of both Fiji and Evian, the source is in the name. Essentia is looking to differentiate itself not based on its sourcing, but on the process by which it creates high-alkaline water. The Bothell, Wash.-based company uses a three-step process, through which it infuses electricity in the water to create alkaline water with a pH of 9.5 or higher, according to Essentia’s vice president of marketing Karyn Abrahamson.

“When competing in this kind of category — which is very competitive — you have to start with having a great product first,” Abrahamson said. “And we’re very proud of the product because of how we create it, the process we put it through and what the end result is in terms of the product experience and benefits — better rehydration.”

Essentia conducted a study, published in the December 2016 edition of the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, on the rehydration effects of its water. The study found that Essentia’s water showed a statistically significant better ability to bring a patient’s blood viscosity to above baseline level 120 minutes after exercise.

“At the end of the day, people want to drink water that does something for them physically and emotionally, and this water happens to be better at hydrating,” Abrahamson said. The physical benefits of the water, along with the need to connect emotionally with consumers, were the impetus behind the brand’s recent redesign and rebranding effort on its packaging and multi-pack designs, she added. The black-and-red packaging showcases a newly-designed logo with the company’s manifesto and new tagline.

“Our new tagline is ‘Overachieving H20’ because this water has functional benefits that do something meaningful for people,” Abrahamson said. “The people that we’re trying to have a relationship with — millennials ages 18-to-34 years old — is that they’re overachievers in their own right and they lead an overachieving lifestyle. Our mission is to help people be the best version of themselves — better hydration helps people do what it is they love, but do it more or better.”

The idea of connecting with consumers is key these days, particularly among younger consumers, who increasingly are looking for brands to not only deliver on product promises, but on the emotional level that Abrahamson discusses by tapping into their ethos. It is with this understanding that Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Boxed Water hit the market with in 2009, upending a fundamental part of the bottled water category — the bottle itself — and making a message of sustainability central to its brand identity and offering.

“All the other companies are looking at what’s inside the bottle; we’re looking not only at the package but at the whole life cycle of plastic,” Boxed Water chief marketing officer Rob Koenen said. “Different types of water are going to come and go. Right now high pH is very popular, a few years ago it was electrolyte water, and a few years from now it’s going to be something else. What’s not going away is the need to help our planet and the problems that are going on with plastic, and it’s only accelerating.”

The company’s boxes are 74% paper that it says come from forests that are constantly replanted in an effort to offset its carbon footprint. The company — which got its start in coffee shops and local stores — also has a social media campaign through which it plants two trees for every photo consumers post on social media featuring its product with the hashtag #ReTree. Koenen said the company has planted more than 600,000 trees as a result.

Boxed is now moving beyond specialty retailers and into grocery, mass and drug channels. Koenen noted that its products, already in one division of a national drug chain’s stores, would soon be hitting 16 more. He said that drug stores and college bookstores — which he noted tend to be frequented more by millennial consumers — are where the company sees the most growth, especially when its merchandising units that explain the company’s driving cause are displayed.

“Where we have the story, where consumers know what our story is and what we’re reaching for, we have three times the sell through — and it’s even more in drug stores and college book stores,” he said. “Millennials, they dig deep to find the whole story, that’s why they’re buying into the entire promise of who we are, not just that we’re selling a box versus a bottle.”

In terms of the space Essentia and Boxed Water occupy in the category, while Abrahamson describes Essentia as a “super premium” product, Koenen classifies his as “commercial plus.” But both are tapping into a tool used by premium brands — the lifestyle that accompanies the product — and hovering near their price points.

“It’s high design with an environmental consciousness,” Koenen said. “So think of all the people you know … who appreciate and are looking for design in their life to fulfill that need — our packaging and our lifestyle of cool, young and hip fulfill that need.”

Abrahamson, whose background is in rebuilding brands — most recently Microsoft — said that the connections Essentia builds drive loyalty among consumers. 

“Once people find out about Essentia and try it, they stay incredibly loyal to Essentia,” she said. “On top of that, we’ve got people who don’t just want water — they want water that has functional benefits for them, and they’re willing to pay the money for that.”

 

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