I. The Problem
A. The Key Fact
General Mills, Inc. is the second largest company in the cereal industry next to
Kellogg’s. While General Mills net sales grew 8% in 2008, compared to a modest
compound industry growth of 2.9%, there are signs of a slow down and
increased competition in the future. Between 2008 and 2013, the industry is
expected to decelerate to a growth of 2.8%1.
Ready to eat cereal makes up over 85% of the cereal market2. It is a nutritionally
dense food that is affordable and a staple in many homes3. However, many
individuals can’t enjoy many mainstream cereals due to a natural product in
many grains called gluten. According to the National Institute of Health, over two
million consumers in the U.S. are gluten intolerant. Gluten is a natural protein
found in many foods that can cause reactions that range from unpleasant to fatal
for those who have Celiac Disease - an autoimmune disease (i.e. gluten
intolerance). Those with gluten intolerance that are exposed to gluten are at risk
for mal-absorption of nutrients, irritable bowel syndrome, lupus,
rheumatoid arthritis, kidney stones, type I diabetes, seizures, and certain types of
cancer. Children may experience lack of growth and behavior problems. Women
are at an increased risk for osteoporosis due to mal-absorption of vitamin D,
miscarriage and pre-term delivery4.
General Mills has responded to this unfortunate and serious health problem with
a break-through product: Gluten-Free Chex Cereal, an extension of their already
popular Chex Cereal line. As not many mainstream cereal or grain products offer
gluten-free versions, addressing this issue in a product is both innovative and
socially responsible. Gluten-Free Chex Cereal has the potential to help General
Mills gain market share and earn goodwill in the community. Despite the publicity
this product has received on various Celiac Disease and gluten-free food blogs, it
currently does not possess the kind of awareness that it requires to be a stand
out product that will significantly increase market share.
B. Advertising Objective
This large and relatively unsatisfied market presents an opportunity for General
Mills to increase its market share by providing consumers with gluten-free
cereals and other products, while educating individuals about Celiac Disease
while staying in line with the company strategy of providing healthy foods. Since
General Mills has already established itself as a trusted household name and
leader in the cereal industry, the stage for gaining market share is already set.
Simply put, our advertising objective is as follows:
Inform consumers of the innovative and socially responsible product, Gluten-Free
Chex Cereal, that General Mills has created, while highlighting the growing
health concern of Celiac Disease and General Mills’ stance on this health issue
in order to gain market share. A more long-term intention is that this advertising
objective will also pave the way for other gluten-free General Mills products that
will continue to help them gain market share in the future.
II. The Creative Platform
Part A: The Product
I. The Reality
• General Mills Chex Cereal is one of the few (if not only) mainstream gluten-free
cereal lines in the marketplace right now, excluding smaller specialty cereal
• As a mainstream cereal option, the Gluten-Free Chex Cereal line is more
affordable and accessible than its more expensive health food store brand
• General Mills and its Chex Cereal lines are both well established and trusted
• The Chex Cereal line has already created an element of community with an
engaging website and contests for consumers that include their gluten-free line
(located at http://www.chex.com/Recipes/Recipes.aspx).
• According to a gluten-free blog, (http://gluten-free-blog.blogspot.com), the
Celiac Disease sufferer community is applauding General Mills for its pioneering
efforts through the launch of its gluten-free cereal line.
• A limited awareness of Celiac Disease and the Gluten-Free Chex Cereal line.
• Some bloggers and Celiac Disease activists have complained of still having
stomach problems from the Gluten-Free Chex Cereal and are concerned that
there might be cross-contamination from their other non gluten-free cereal lines.
• A possible, yet unintentional negative perception regarding taste, (being know
for being “healthy’ and “gluten-free”) may scare off potential target market
• For the Gluten-Free Chex Cereal line to become much more recognizable in the
mind of the consumer and to become a part of an evoked set of both gluten-free
and mainstream cereal brands.
• For the Gluten-Free Chex Cereal line to capture the non-Celiac Disease
sufferers market share, by appealing to the health conscious, matriarchal, aging
and medical communities.
• For the Gluten-Free Chex Cereal line to further extend complementary General
Mills gluten-free products (such as it’s Gluten-Free Betty Crocker baking mixes)
to help General Mills stand out as a pioneering, health-conscious and cutting-
edge company to gain market share over its biggest industry rival, Kellogg’s.
• For the Gluten-Free Chex Cereal line to find and satisfy any unfulfilled ethnic
market segments that may be geared to more corn or rice based breakfast
• Main industry competitors, such as Kellogg’s and Danone may try to introduce
• The smaller, already established gluten-free cereal brands have already
captured a portion of the marketplace and may already have loyal brand
• These smaller competitors may also try to gain further awareness and
recognition of their product through any Chex Gluten-Free Cereal campaign.
• Consumer preference for the other gluten-free breakfast alternatives to cereal
that aren’t in danger of having cross-contamination (ie: fruit, yogurt, etc.).
New products bearing the gluten-free banner have more than tripled since 2004,
reaching 700 in 2007. Through April 2009, 341 more gluten-free products have
also launched. Sales of gluten-free products will hit $1.7 billion by 2010.
Gluten-Free Products Launches, 2004-08
YEAR LAUNCHES % CHANGE
2004 214 N/A
2005 345 +61%
2006 575 +66%
2007 700 +21%
2008(*) 341 N/A
(*)2008 figure only includes products launched between Jan. 1-Apr. 29
Originally, gluten-free foods were sought out primarily by Celiac Disease
sufferers These days, however, many not afflicted with food digestive sensitivities
have chosen to adopt the products as part of a perceived healthier lifestyle, said
Lynn Dornblaser, director of CPG trend insight at Mintel. Lynn remarks, "We are
definitely seeing more diagnosis of Celiac Disease as doctors become more
aware of it, but there are also a growing number of consumers who are taking
gluten out of their diets as a lifestyle choice." She continues by saying the
increased media buzz has raised awareness about gluten-free products and is
being sought out by both health conscious and Celiac suffering consumers.
Chex’s Cereal has decided to reformulate its rice cereal for both a need to
respond to the increasing demands from consumers for gluten-free products as
well as the opportunity to stand out in the cereal aisle. Rohan Thakur, marketing
manager for Chex at General Mills Minneapolis, states that the number one
complaint consumers have had in the past 3 years is that they're searching for
gluten-free products or the lack there of. "If you go down the cereal aisle, you've
got 200 SKUs screaming for attention, so the sheer saturation in the marketplace
means that for us to stand out, we have to bring some new news to the
marketplace that would be good for consumers", say Rohan.
Even though there is no advertising plan in place, the Chex brand is first working
on partnering with advocacy groups like the Celiac Disease Foundation and
healthcare professionals, who are often the first resource that families and
individuals dealing with the affliction turn to. Thakur said that the company fully
"intends to talk about this product and invest the dollars to make it more visible in
the marketplace." General Mills spent $9 million on advertising in 2007 to create
With this advertising scheme, General Mills can leverage the once-niche dietary
category out of specialty foods and online retailers (that used to be the sole
suppliers for its consumers), and bring it into the mainstream aisles of grocery
stores nationwide. "These consumers haven't had the chance to walk into the
cereal aisle and buy a regular box of cereal for $3.50," added Thakur. "So that's
where we have a strong opportunity."
However, General Mills finding this opportunity to appeal to the mass market
might also destroy smaller brands that have serviced the gluten-free market.
Nature's Path, out of Vancouver, British Columbia, which produces organic and
gluten-free products (distributed at Whole Foods, Kroger and Wegmans, plus
specialty organic retailers) may be one of the companies that is affected by
General Mills’ aggressive move into the gluten-free market. Its annual sales
reach an excess of $150 million. Nature's Path Marketing Director, Maria
Emmer-Aanes, sees Chex moving into the gluten-free market as positive
exposure for the already existing companies servicing this market, which will
outweigh the perceived threats to competitors. "It's good for everyone because if
the consumer has a need and a giant like General Mills gets into it," she said.
"They raise awareness for the products that we already make. Just now people
are able to get these gluten-free products at their grocery stores. It's way better
than it used to be, even just three years ago."
Current Agency and Advertising Spending
As mentioned, General Mills spent $9 million on advertising to create initial
awareness in the minds of consumers, as they felt and feel there is a healthy
demand for gluten-free food products. Baking goods and cereal are General
Mills’ two superior performing products. With household names such as Betty
Crocker, Chex, and Honey Nut Cheerios (just to name a few) adapting to this
market will be quite beneficial for General Mills. "It used to be, as a marketer in
the food industry, you needed a $50 million idea to make the business model
work," says president of General Mills baking products, Ann Simonds. "Today,
you can meet an unmet need that will be a $5 million business…That would be
worth it for a company like General Mills."5
Although there is a fairly small percentage of actual Celiac Disease sufferers
(1%), General Mills is aiming the majority of their advertising of gluten-free cereal
and baking goods to the health conscious households as well. Research shows
that 12% of U.S. households see it important to reduce the amount of gluten
intake consumed. General Mills will not disclose exact figures on the amount of
advertising they are doing in their new found gluten-free products, but states that
it is much less than what it is usually accustomed to spending for national
product launches6. Regardless of less spending on these products, in its most
recent quarter, the company spent 16% more on marketing then it did in 2008, to
keep positioning at the top of consumers’ minds7.
Trends and practice show that General Mill’s is putting Chex Cereal and the rest
of its gluten-free products on the digital market, where it is cheaper and easier to
build awareness to niche segments of consumers. Larger companies such as
P&G and Mars Inc. have also successfully demonstrated in the past marketing
new products via the Internet with great success. Alison Chaltas, a marketing
consultant with Interscope LLC, says that General Mills is relying on websites
and direct sales to customers (via doctor’s word of mouth and specific retailers)
to build customer awareness and need to purchase their gluten-free products.
Google has been a primary source of General Mills’ advertising expenditures.
The company paid for product links to show up more significantly when people
search "gluten-free birthday cake mix" and "gluten free dessert mixes". With a
tremendous amount of “information seekers” searching the Internet for recipes,
ideas, and ingredients, General Mills shifted Betty Crocker's ad buys to more
than half its total spending geared to online advertising while generally, around
20% of General Mills ad budgets are spent online8. The company also sent
hundreds of product samples to bloggers who write about Celiac Disease,
motherhood and related issues. In addition, General Mills’ gluten-free brands
plan to spread the word by sponsoring online marketing, advertising in gluten-
free lifestyle magazines, and participating in gluten-related events. In early May,
Betty Crocker sponsored a booth at a Celiac Disease Foundation event in
As a MNC, General Mills is also continuing to advertise to its international
market, including its healthy food products such as the gluten-free line. Univision
&6 Ilan Brat. (2009, July 2). For General Mills, Wheat-Free Items Are Tricky to Make, Cheap to Market.
(Wall Street Journal) (Eastern Edition), p. B.1
Fine, J. (2009). Why General Mills' Marketing Pays Off. Business Week, (4140), 67-68. Retrieved from
Business Source Premier Database.
Fine, J. (2009). Why General Mills' Marketing Pays Off. Business Week, (4140), 67-68. Retrieved from
Business Source Premier Database.
Wall Street Journal Betty Crocker 2009 Retrieved from Business Source Premier Database.
Communications and General Mills just renewed it partnership and plans to
continue to reach the Hispanic market through on-air, online, mobile, and special
cooking presentations. Univision Communications is the leading Spanish-
language TV and radio broadcaster in the US, carried by more than 1,400
broadcast and cable affiliates. Que Rica Vida, “What a Good Life”, is General
Mills’ well known Spanish oriented lifestyle magazine and website as well as the
cornerstone of its Hispanic marketing program. General Mills has placed famous
and charismatic TV personality, Karla Matinez, co-host of Univision’s morning
show, as the face of the Que Rica Vida network. She will be a part of a series of
30-second vignettes that are aired on Univision to educate viewers with cooking
and nutritional facts that will feature General Mills’ brands. "Our research shows
that Que Rica Vida is playing an ever more important role in helping Latina
women in their daily lives," said General Mills Multicultural Marketing Director
Rudy Rodriquez. "We have been very pleased with the results of our partnership
with Univision over the past year, and hope to expand it even more, moving
forward." Ques Rica Vida is an essential element and key medium in the
Hispanic market to bring awareness of health and wellness to stay at home
moms in regards to their lifestyles and food products10.
Current Message Strategy
The current General Mills message strategy can be found by taking a look at
their website, which is focused on informing potential consumers about gluten (in
general) who it affects and introduces its’ product line of Gluten-Free Chex.
General Mills was the first global manufacturer to launch a gluten-free cereal,
Chex, in 200811. As this is such a new product that focuses on a disease that
few have even heard of (only 1- in- 4,700 are ever diagnosed), yet affects 1 out
of every 133 people12, General Mills’ current advertising outlets (website, blogs,
articles) are solely focused on providing information about this disease to the
public at large. General Mills says it's spending much less on the gluten-free
marketing effort than it normally does for national launches. Choosing to spread
the world via online marketing, advertising in gluten-free magazines and
attending gluten-related events13.
Though this strategy as worked thus far, we suggest utilizing both a push and
pull strategy. Instead of solely focusing on a pull strategy, where the consumers
are left to their own devices and must actively search out this information, we
suggest incorporating a push strategy. Utilizing a push strategy, General Mills
will be able to focus its effort on spreading awareness about this disease (and a
persons potential to have it) on strategically chosen target markets. This will
move General Mills from an information provider to awareness builder, which is
where we want them to be. Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance, affects people
General Mills Hispanic Marketing Platform Que Rica Vida Renews Successful Partnership with Univision:
Two new chefs join the Betty Crocker Kitchen's Cocina Hispana. (14 September). PR Newswire.
and they don’t even know it. With this in mind, General Mills must first bring
awareness to consumers at large of their potential to have this disease in
addition to providing information about it and how their products can help. There
is huge market potential for gluten-free products, which, transcends people with
this disease into other markets, such as: the health conscious and mothers (the
latter of which will be our target audience).
Those consumers with the Celiac Disease, who know they have it, mostly view
the brand in a positive light. There are numerous blogs, recipe/coupon sites, and
social networking sites that are focused on analyzing and promoting gluten-free
products. All have highlighted the General Mills product line, more specifically,
Chex, as an “amazing”14 product.
Informed consumers appreciate the attention General Mills is giving to this
disease. Prior to the official gluten-free product release, the Internet was buzzing
with anticipation for these products. “We were so excited to see the Rice Chex I
cried in the store! Last week we found the GF Honey Nut Chex and my kids
LOVE them!! I’m so excited to hear that they will make the other flavors as well!
Yeah!”15. There were six very similar comments attached to this article, all from
women, expressing their excitement for the General Mills gluten-free product line.
In addition to article posts, there are coupon websites, primarily focused on and
for mothers, to provide an outlet for coupon savings as well as a forum for
discussions on products (Mom to Monkeys is one such site). General Mills has
done an outstanding job translating the product standards of the original Chex
product line to the gluten-free line of Chex. They have utilized online media
outlets to transfer the brand equity they have built into the gluten-free realm,
recognizing an unfulfilled need and building the anticipation for their product
launch. Instead of altering the brands’ perception, we will take advantage of the
high (and positive) brand equity to build awareness and create demand for our
B. The Target Audience
Over the past few decades, research has shown that the typical age of American
mothers has been on the rise. In 2006 the average age of American mothers was
25 years old, up from 21.4 in 197016. When taking other countries into
consideration, Japan 29.2 and 29.4 in Switzerland, American mothers are still
relatively young. Though the average age of mothers are not the highest in the
world, American mothers are choosing to have children later in life so they can
focus on establishing their careers.
When taking into consideration the country as a whole, women make up the
majority, consisting of 50.9% of the American population17. According to the US
Census Bureau, “White Americans” are the majority in the country, making up
roughly 75.1% of all persons in 200018. Though White Americans are the
majority, Asian Americans enjoy a higher median personal income than any other
racial demographic. The only exception is among the holders of graduate
degrees who constitute 8.9% of the population. Among those with a Master's,
Professional or Doctorate degree those who identified as White had the highest
median individual income. Most American households consist of 3.14 persons19
and earn less than $50K per year. Specifically for women, the average income is
approximately $33, 075, about $10,242 less than their male counterparts20.
On a psychographic level, the typical mother makes a conscious choice every
morning when deciding what they will feed their child for breakfast. They take
pride in providing a healthy, fulfilling meal that will start their child off on the right
foot. What’s more, they see this as a reflection of their success as a mother,
actively searching out and making healthy, informed purchasing decisions. They
appreciate companies that they can trust in offering honest, healthy choices as
an alternative to the norm (in this case, an alternative to sugary breakfast
cereals). They envision themselves as protectors and watch dogs of their child’s
diet and General Mills has already established itself as a trusted brand and now,
gluten-free Chex is an obvious, healthy choice.
Profile: Average American Mother
Individual Income: $35,000
Lifestyle: Family orientated, “soccer mom” - daily routine includes:
making/providing breakfast, taking children to school, going to work, picking them
up, taking them to practice (for multiple sports), cooking dinner, helping their
children with homework and putting the children to bed. When she doesn’t have
to take/pick up her children from school, she enjoys working out, running errands
and occasionally going out to dinner with the girls.
Justification of Target Market
Celiac Disease and its Social and Personal Impact on Mothers
Women with celiac disease can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation for
both biologically, neurotically and social reasons. The disease untreated can
cause embarrassment with uncontrollable gas and feeling ill. Treated it can
cause isolation by not being able to partake in the same items that those without
the disease can. Neurologically it can cause depression. In all these ways, a
person who suffers from celiac disease can feel that are not a part of those
The mother-child relationship was studied in 28 children with celiac disease. It
was found that there was a high incidence of emotional symptoms in these
children, namely withdrawal, irritability and clingingness. Accompanying these
symptoms in the children there was a significant disturbance of the mother-child
relationship, with maternal anxiety, maternal depression and maternal
preoccupation. These symptoms in the mother and child disappeared or greatly
improved once the child had responded to a gluten-free diet, except when the
mother was already emotionally disturbed before the onset of the child's illness.”
(Gardiner, Porteous & Walker 1972)21
Frustration in the Doctor’s Office:
In addition to problems at home, many mothers find trouble in the doctor’s office.
Often the disease, with symptoms such as diarrhea and congestion are confused
with infections and diagnosed incorrectly. On the other hand, doctors may insist
that there is nothing wrong with the child. Diana Korn, an author about the
disease and considered to be a patient expert tells her story a story of a doctor’s
office threatening to ban her if she kept insisting something was wrong with her
child. She states, “They kept telling me not to worry and sending me away. After
several weeks of this, I just kept calling and trying to get in and, at one point, they
would not accept me in the office again. They said there was nothing wrong with
Tyler and that if I was going to continue pressing the matter, I would be
“excused” from the pediatric practice as a patient. So, in a way, we were fired!”
Often mothers are treated as if they were the neurotic ones. Diana Korn did not
find help until she found a gastroenterologist who was an expert in malabsorption
conditions (Korn 2009).22
AU: A. GARDINER, N. PORTEOUS, J. A. WALKER-SMITH, THE EFFECT OF COELIAC DISEASE ON
THE MOTHER-CHILD RELATIONSHIP, Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health VL: 8, NO: 1, PG: 39-43,
YR: 1972, ON: 1440-1754, PN: 1034-4810, AD: Department of Child Health, University of Sydney, and the
Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, Sydney DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.1972.tb01784.x US:
Korn, D. (2009). A Mother’s perspective: danna korn tells her story. Promethius Therapuetics &
Diagnostics, 2009. Retrieved from http://celiacplus.com/patient/MothersPerspective.asp
After diagnoses of the disease, mothers face the challenge of learning what will
be a healthy diet for those who are gluten intolerant and passing down this
information to their child. Many doctors and dieticians are not familiar with the
disease and spread misinformation about what the child can eat. A mother may
feel anxiety while feeding her child in fear of harming him or her because while
she knows the child is gluten intolerant, she may not know what gluten is.
Reinforcing this diet, while other children in the house are enjoying bread, pasta
and cereal can cause discord in the home. Young children may lack the capacity
to understand why gluten is bad for them. It can cause fights between parent and
child. The child feels left out while seeing brothers and sister enjoy food that he
or she can’t. A child must be taught from the start that they live in a gluten world
and must take responsibility for their own diet. The child must taught that a
gluten free diet is not a punishment and there are many other things they can
eat. For example when going to a birthday party, while they may not be able to
eat cake, they can enjoy the ice cream. Additionally, controlling the child’s diet
when he or she is away from the parent can be a daunting task. Parents most
become advocates and educator of the disease to any one that may provide food
for their child. It is not until the child gains maturity, often not the teen years that
the child can take responsibility for his or her own diet (Korn 2009). 23
There are two different roads children with celiac disease may follow. One is of
empowerment where the child can be proactive in finding foods that are healthy
for him or her. These children live a normal lifestyle and maintain a positive
attitude. Instead of being left out, they become advocates and educators of the
disease themselves (Korn 2009)
The other road is one of anxiety. There is little feeling of control as the child has
not been empowered with information. The child is dependent of the parent to
tell the child what is the right or wrong thing to eat. The child avoids social
events, eating out in restaurants and does not learn how to build his or her self-
confidence. Teaching children independence can boost confidence for both the
mother and child.
Social Phobia and Depression
Korn, D. (2009). A Mother’s perspective: danna korn tells her story. Promethius
Therapuetics & Diagnostics, 2009. Retrieved from
In a study of forty individuals with celiac disease and fifty additional healthy
individuals without the disease, seventy percent of individuals with celiac disease
suffered from social phobia versus sixteen percent in the control group. Within
the group of individuals with the disease with social phobias, 73% were recently
diagnosed while 68% were on a gluten free diet; surprisingly, not a large
difference. Additionally 52.5 percent of those celiac disease suffered from
depression versus eight percent in the control group (Addollarto, 2008).24
An individual’s immune system with celiac disease immune system responds to
the protein gliadin differently than a person with out the disease. “The protein is
similar in structure to other proteins present in the body, including those of the
brain and nerve cells. A cross reactivity can occur whereby the immune system
“confuses” proteins in the body for the protein gliadin. This is called cellular
mimicry and the result is the body attacking its own tissues with inflammation
resulting. When inflammation happens in the brain and nervous system, a variety
of symptoms can occur, including depression.” (Addollarto 2008)25 In addition,
celiac disease interferes with absorption of nutrients including proteins and amino
acids. One such protein, tryptophan is a protein in the brain responsible for a
feeling of well-being and relaxation. A lack of tryptophan may cause depression,
anxiety and feeling not connected with others around them. It is possible that
some individuals diagnosed with having a chemical imbalance may actually
suffer from celiac disease. Celiac disease also can affect women in other ways
biologically and even interfere with a mother and child’s religious observations,
please see appendix I.
C. The Competition
The gluten-free cereal market is rapidly growing, but at this time it is still highly
fragmented with no industry leader. There are several reasons for this. First,
there is the lack of public awareness of Celiac Disease. Secondly, is that as of
October 26, 2009, there is no FDA standard for gluten-free products. A rule is
Addolorato G, Mirijello A, D'Angelo C, Leggio L, Ferrulli A, Vonghia L, Cardone S, Leso V, Miceli A,
Gasbarrini G. 2009, Institute of Internal Medicine, Catholic University of Rome, Rome, Italy Retrieved from
Addolorato G, Mirijello A, D'Angelo C, Leggio L, Ferrulli A, Vonghia L, Cardone S, Leso V, Miceli A,
Gasbarrini G. 2009, Institute of Internal Medicine, Catholic University of Rome, Rome, Italy Retrieved from
expected any day that all gluten-free products must have less than 20 parts per
million. Until then, any cereal can make a claim that they are gluten-free. It can
be expected that once a standard is established, some competitors will leave the
market due to being unable to reach the standard or afford testing and quality
control to ensure the standard. Lastly, is brand awareness. Most gluten-free
cereal brands are privately owned and found in privately owned specialty food
stores such Rainbow Grocery or Trader Joe’s a publicly owned Wholefoods.
In addition, most of these privately owned cereals also come with premium
pricing. One of the lower priced cereals is Bob’s Mill Five Grain Rolled Cereal at
$7.90 for 4.5 pounds. However, all of Bob’s Mill’s gluten-free cereals must be
cooked and are therefore, not ready to eat. An example for ready to eat cereals
is Gluteno’s Gluten-Free Honey-Nut sold at Albertson’s grocery stores for $5.69
for a 10 oz package. Nature’s Path Enviro-Kids Leaping Lemurs cereal meant
for kids also sells at a hefty $4.59 for a 10 oz package and makes the claim of
being environmentally friendly since it donates 1% of its proceeds to save
endangered species26. Nature’s Path lowest priced cereal is Enviro-Kids Amazon
Flakes at $4.59 for a 14 oz package. Additionally, Nature’s Path was voted
Canada’s greenest employer in 200927. At this point in time, Nature’s Path can
be considered General Mills largest competitor in the gluten-free market.
General Mills has worked hard to build it’s sustainability record (Socialfunds.com)
and it is vital that it brands itself as such to compete against other brands like
Nature’s Path and others that gain a similar perception by being sold in “health-
However, it does still appear that General Mills has a real competitive advantage.
It is an internationally recognized brand that is available in large retail grocery
stores reaching millions of consumers, and at a price of $3.99 for a 14 oz box of
cereal, it is the most competitively priced.
A possible substitute for General Mills is Captain Crunch, which contains oats.
It's not technically a gluten-free cereal, but oats themselves have much less
gluten so some people who have Celiac Disease may be able to tolerate this
cereal. However, since oat cereals are often made on the same equipment as
other cereals, gluten contamination is still a relevant concern. Oats also contain
another protein called Avenin, which can harm the intestines of people with
Celiac Disease. That said Captain Crunch could be a possible substitute
depending on the person.
D. The Single Most Compelling Benefit Our Brand Can Provide Them
The single most compelling benefit that General Mills’ Gluten-Free Chex Cereal
can provide to consumers is the slice of tradition and belonging that it represents.
According to datamonitor.com, General Mills is the sixth largest food company in
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the world, operating in more than 100 countries with more than 100 consumer
brands. Despite all of the choices available to consumers at their local grocers,
“on an average, the US shoppers prefer to place at least one General Mills
product into their shopping cart each time they visit the grocery store.” This
equates to the fact that General Mills holds the first or second position in every
category in which it competes28. Not only do General Mills products appear to be
readily available, they also appear to carry with them high brand recognition and
brand loyalty. With ready to eat cereals accounting for 88.10% of the Global
Breakfast Cereals Market Segmentation % share by Value (2008) and General
Mills accounting for 16.10% of Global Breakfast Cereals Market Share % by
Value (2008), their presence in international as well as domestic households is
quite large and meaningful29.
Bearing that in mind, General Mills as a company has a great presence and
underlying significance in many domestic households, with its Chex cereal line
acting as a part of food-related family traditions and daily routines that create
normalcy and consistency. As the need for gluten-free products can signify a
sense of isolation and differentiation, having a mainstream, trusted brand offer a
gluten-free product creates a sense of belonging on a simple but integral level.
While there are many benefits that any gluten-free cereal can provide for Celiac
Disease sufferers and non-Celiac Disease sufferers alike, General Mills Gluten-
Free Chex Cereal is different. Specifically, it offers the benefit of being both
readily available and cheaper than the competition, but most importantly it
leverages its time-built brand equity and all of the symbolism that comes with it.
For parents with or without Celiac Disease sufferers in their family, it’s a small
way, to provide their families with a healthy start for the most important meal of
the day. In summation, the single most compelling benefit that General Mills’
Gluten-Free Chex Cereal can provide to consumers is the slice of tradition and
belonging that it represents.
E. Why Should They Believe This?
Chex Cereal’s have been at the family breakfast table since 1937. It is a brand
with global recognition and trust. Many of its cereals are made from gluten free
ingredients. For those products labeled as ‘gluten free’ that are made from wheat
or multigrain, consumers can trust that the claims are accurate coming from
company under the public eye and trust. The FDA proposed regulation states
that gluten-free products contain less than 20 ppm gluten. General Mills products
with a gluten-free claim already comply with this proposed regulation.
Additionally, General Mills processes their gluten free products separately to
ensure no cross contamination occurs (Savy Celiac 2009). 30
1(n.d.). General Mills, Inc.. Datamonitor. Retrieved (2009, November 20) from www.datamonitor.com.
2 (2008). Global Breakfast Cereals. Datamonitor. Retrieved (2009, November 20) from
Anonymous, . (2009, April 10). Gluten-free chex cereals — ensuring “gluten-freeness”. The Savy Celiac,
In order to create awareness of General Mills’ Gluten-Free Chex Cereal line
among families (with and without a Celiac Disease sufferer in the family), we
suggest that our primary market segmentation focus on the family unit. While we
would like to emphasize a primary focus on the decision-making members of the
household (specifically mothers), we feel that our tone and messaging should be
relevant to the entire family unit.
As a brief background to better understand our tone and messaging, it is
important to recap that the main defining factor of having Celiac Disease is that
the person with this disease must avoid gluten-containing products on a daily
basis, often forcing them to observe an extremely strict and constraining diet and
even limiting certain social activities. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation
(http://www.celiac.org/) gluten is found in everything from bread and pasta to
processed luncheon meats, communion wafers and play-dough. Such
restrictions can prove to not only be expensive (having to specifically buy
specialized gluten-free products) but also socially stifling. Being a Celiac
Disease sufferer or having one in your family seems to create a sense of
disconnect and isolation, as illustrated by the various Celiac Disease support
groups, websites and blogs.
Already being a trusted household company (and brand), General Mills’ Chex
Cereal line is a part of many American families’ breakfasts and snacks (Chex
Mix) and is a pantry staple. It carries with it, a sense of routine and mainstream
normalcy – something that is missing in many Celiac Disease sufferers’ lives.
Being able to take part of a “normal” breakfast or snack routine without the
feeling of differentiation, references the Maslow-esque idea of “belonging” and
“social acceptance.” We would like to position General Mills Gluten-Free Chex
Cereal, not just as a healthy and delicious food, but also a link to mainstream
behavior and inclusiveness.
In summation, General Mills’ Gluten-Free Chex Cereal needs to project the idea
of belonging and mainstream normalcy. Its tone should be informative and
heartfelt, but light-hearted as well. The overall effect should be to tug at the mind
and heartstrings, while still infusing humor and “normalcy” into the heart of the
III. The Creative Brief
Brand: General Mills’ Gluten-Free Chex Cereal
Why are we advertising?
To create awareness of General Mills’ new Gluten-Free Chex Cereal line, by
Retrieved from http://thesavvyceliac.com/2009/04/10/gluten-free-chex-cereals-ensuring-gluten-freeness/
promoting its healthful benefits, competitive price and accessibility, while
simultaneously leveraging the already existing brand equity of the Chex cereal
Who are we talking to?
HHI 35,000 plus, 25-35, white, mother or mother-like figure, looking for a healthy
breakfast cereal to feed her family (with or without a Celiac Disease sufferer).
She’s a busy woman with many priorities, but her first priority is her family and
providing them with a healthy and safe lifestyle.
What must the advertising say?
General Mills’ Gluten-Free Chex Cereal means more than just nutrition, it means
belonging and normalcy. A healthy start for everyone in the household.
Why should the consumer believe it?
A trusted and well-known brand with an innovative approach to mainstream
nutrition. A brand that offers a competitively priced and easily accessible product
for “the most important meal of the day” that everyone in a single household can
consume without dietary concerns.
What tone of voice?
Informative and heart-felt, but still light-hearted and slightly humorous.
Fertility, Menopause and Menstrual Cycles
Up to thirty-nine percent of women with untreated celiac disease may experience
irregular menstrual cycles or amenorrhea (no menstruation). Some studies indicate that as
much as eight percent of women untreated may suffer from infertility. Though, it is
difficult to ascertain the actual amount, since many women may not exhibit any other
symptoms other than infertility. Women with untreated or undiagnosed celiac disease
enter menopause three to five years later than women who treat their celiac disease by
eating a proper diet. However, once treated, most women return to normal fertility rates
for their age group (Burkhart 2009).31
Other Social Implications: “For Catholics with celiac disease, the most painful
personal and social aspect of living on strict gluten free is the inability to receive the host,
or bread, at Communion along with other members. Catholics believe that the bread is
transformed into the Body of Christ. This transformation and the reception of the Body of
Christ, called the Eucharist, takes place at Mass. Mass is the center around which the
Burkhart A MD PHD (2009) Pregnancy and Celiac Disease, National Center for Celiac Disease,
Retrieved from http://www.celiaccentral.org/News/Research/View-Research-News/Celiac-Disease-
religious life of a Catholic revolves. To be suddenly denied this by virtue of having celiac
disease is devastating to many Catholics……… Because the Catholic Church states that
Communion bread must be made of only wheat and water with "sufficient gluten to attain
the confection of bread," the only option for the Catholic celiac has been to receive
Communion under the species of wine alone. Likewise, parents of celiac children are
troubled by having their child receiving Communion differently from other children or by
having their child drink wine (Coughlin 2009).”32
Coughlin M.D, B. (n.d.). Catholic communion and celiac disease: the options. Retrieved from
http://www.catholicceliacs.org/Options.html Last accessed Nov, 10 2009