Posts tagged “special k”

FreshMeat #5: Cleaning Up On Aisle 5

FreshMeat #5 from Steve Portigal

               (oo) Fresh                  
                \\/  Meat

FreshMeat has the power to charm and seduce. Surrender!
The process of getting a good idea shelved can be tricky

Have you seen that commercial for new “Special K Red
Berries?” It shows a woman shopping in the produce section
of a grocery store, walking from pear to papaya, picking up
the fruit gently, sniffing it reflectively, and placing it
in her bag. Beyond the pomegranates, she encounters the
new cereal product from Kellogg’s. Okay, we get the point.
The cereal is so fruity and so fresh that it belongs in
with the real fruit.

I guess this ad made me think of something lurking behind
the main story – the way that advertisers have started to
use the hidden parts of product development in their ads,
perhaps to better bring the viewer into the commercial.
For example, videogame companies, Rolaids, Levi’s, and
Kellogg’s have developed commercials that borrow from or
parody user testing and ethnography.

In this case, the development work being (inadvertently?)
spoofed is the placing of a product into retail. This is a
significant barrier to innovation. If Kellogg’s really
wanted to get their new cereal in the produce aisle, they
couldn’t possibly do so. Retailers tightly control what
type of products go in what aisle, as well as what brands
go where. Deals are struck, money is exchanged, products
hit the shelves. Promotions, discounts for consumers,
discounts for the retailer, special end-cap (the end of the
aisle) displays are all part of the negotiation. Even the
stocking and maintenance of the display (and special
hardware such as refrigeration units) may be part of the

This is neither entirely good nor entirely bad. Retailers
need to provide a coherent and consistent environment for
their shoppers. But today’s retail completely puts the
lie to the “better mousetrap” approach to product

Many manufacturers regard this problem as hopeless, and
throw up their hands in frustration. Getting the product
in the store in a way that the store can sell it is most
certainly a problem. Manufacturers who have taken on this
challenge have often found themselves embraced by their
channel – the realization that their common goal is about
placing stuff in the customer’s hands can alleviate some
(not all!) of the contentiousness that may exist in those

The NYT just did a story about consolidation in the
grocery industry and in the broker industry (firms that
work for food producers to handle much of the negotiation
around placement). The article is here/


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