Packaging of children's breakfast cereal: manufacturers versus children Department of Retailing and Marketing, The Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK Keywords Food, Children, Consumer behaviour, Marketing Abstract Based on primary research from both a child consumer and manufacturer perspective, this article explores the breakfast cereal market and the perceptions of packaging from the perspective of a child. Specific consideration is given to determining the overall role of packaging, what role packaging can play within integrated marketing communications and establishing the feasibility and effectiveness of packaging as a sole communications tool. Findings highlight some apparent inconsistencies between manufacturer and children's views, and illustrate the possibility of adults underestimating how aware children are as consumers in today's society.
Helene Hill and Jennifer Tilley
British Food Journal, Vol. 104 No. 9, 2002, pp. 766-777. # MCB UP Limited, 0007-070X DOI 10.1108/00070700210443129
Introduction Cereals are one of the largest and most important categories within the grocery market with a household penetration of 90 per cent and estimated value of approximately £1 billion, however, the sector faces challenges. Breakfast cereals have been hit by intense price competition among retailing multiples, the introduction of everyday low pricing (EDLP), a decline in people eating breakfast and the growth of alternative breakfast foods. The figures in Table I show that the market is in steady decline. However, the UK is, and will continue to be, one of the largest consumers of breakfast cereal per capita in Europe. The current healthy eating trend in the UK is well established and there is no reason to suspect it will not continue. With cereals being eaten more and more as healthy snacks the sector should benefit. The children's breakfast cereal sector is showing slight growth, +0.4 per cent (source IRI-infoscan, w/e 13 August 2000). This growth looks set to continue with the increase in busy working mothers and the overall increase in the number of school children. There may however, in line with the current healthy eating trends, be a trend towards less sugary cereals. Children's breakfast cereals account for a staggering 34 per cent of the total market; this is more than any other segment within the category. Figure 1 details the category value split in more detail. A walk down the cereal aisle in any major UK supermarket dazzles the consumer with a dashing array of choices. Cereal companies try to appeal to
every potential interest. Currently, cereal companies are moving towards improved nutrition through fortification with an assortment of vitamins and minerals. Character licenses are moving beyond on-pack promotions in the cereal market into the pack itself, with a variety of cereal shapes based on popular characters. However, three of the current brand leaders have yet to take a gamble on character licensed shapes, preferring to stick to the safer territory of on-pack promotions. With constant advertising innovations, food manufacturers, and in particular cereal manufacturers, are gaining more and more access to children through the use of television after school and on Saturday mornings. Quakers Sugar Puffs recently launched a massive advertising campaign featuring the honey monster in his latest guise as Sugar Puff Daddy, as a rap star. The advert filmed in the style of a rap video with a song to match features Sugar Puff Daddy in the attire of a wealthy West Coast rapper. Advertising may no longer be an option though if the proposed advertising ban of the European Union takes place. This will have a huge impact on packaging as it tries to promote brands in an interactive way and faces competition from other media....