Tiger Power – A New Breakfast Cereal

This is the first in an occasional series of reviews of new grocery (and other) products that strike me as interesting or unusual.

Tiger Power is a new breakfast cereal from Kellogg’s. It seems to speak very well to the mom-child dichotomy that conventional marketing wisdom suggests must be faced with every cereal, snack, or other consumable that the kids are going to have on their own…in other words, the kid must find it appealing, but the mother must be okay with letting their kid eat it.

I do believe at some basic level this is accurate; but having done a couple of ethnographic studies of the morning-time rituals in families, I’m not totally sure that this is the crux of the matter. The challenges with feeding kids in the morning goes beyond the positioning of existing categories of food; it is a situation rife with opportunity for the companies that can rethink existing categories food to begin to address the larger problems: individualized tastes, individualized schedules; blurring boundaries between meal and snack, the stretching of breakfast from a single-time-period (a “meal”) to a series of things eaten over time and over space.

A number of years ago we did research on this category; as a result our client General Mills launched the enormously successful Go-Gurt.

The Package
But anyway, back to Tiger Power. Here’s the package:
We see Tony the Tiger, hero of the sugar-loaded Frosted Flakes (weren’t they once known as Sugar Frosted Flakes?) – although they are now selling a reduced-sugar version. Tony’s here, so it’s gotta be good for kids. And yet he’s got his paternal arm around a young girl (another package shows a young boy), and she’s smiling a contented smirk; looking confident and ready to face the day.

The package stays away from the high-energy bulging eyeballs and hyper perspective with characters leaning way outa the box to pull us in, it’s pretty calm, but still kinda designy. Tiger pawprints (each with a TM) lightly fill the whitespace of the package. The logo is jauntily skewed, but not too much. Tiger Power suggests energy more than a sugar rush spinning into hyper-kinetic ADHD. The tail of the “g” is a tiger tail, with a bit of a visual homage to putting a Tiger in your tank. The tail is gentle and appealing to all.

Prominent next to the word “Tiger” is the emphasized “Whole Grain” – the new spin on breakfast cereal these days – General Mills is billboarding most of their packaging front real estate with the phrase, and here Kellogg’s is getting it in as well.

The slogan here is “Gr-r-eat for Growth!” – Tony language, but not aimed at the kids.

A few years ago Kellogg’s ran these amazing post-modern ads where adult fans were following Tony around trying to see him as he came out of buildings; the fans sat on lawn chairs and would show people their photographs of their efforts to date. It rang incredibly true as a characterization of fan culture (and having spent some time in the Rolling Stones trufan subculture, I can attest to that), and seemed to suggest that there was a big nostalgia play with Tony – adults grew up with him and why not have them continue to consume his product. So maybe there’s an angle there – the Tony presence is a way to remind the parents (or “moms” as the marketing folks would say) that this is a product for their kids, more than it might actually speak to the kids themselves.

The back of the package is all about calcium, fiber, and protein (the magic ingredients listed on the front), but it’s a fresh open design with gentle colors. More adult that child, for sure, but not Adult – not the staid layout of a Product 19 or a Plus 4 or a Special K or whatever-the-heck we’ve got nowadays for the serious fitness buff.

Opening ’em up and pouring ’em in a bowl – here they are close up:
Perhaps they are meant to resemble the trademarked tiger-paw-print on the front of the box? The actual cereal pieces are more circular in aspect ratio than foot shaped, but the visual connection is there.

They are small! Yes, the front of the box reminds us that the image is enlarged to show texture, but they are little guys. Cheerio-sized. Maybe better for little hands and mouths.

The milk goes on and the eating begins. They don’t seem sweet like a “sugar cereal” might. There is a fleeting sugar taste; almost frustrating in that as soon as your taste bads grab onto it, it’s gone. Your primate brain keeps seeking sweet taste but the masticating causes confusion as different tastes flow and emerge. The “wheat” taste of cereal replaces the sweetness, and then the sweetness is back.

It’s good. No doubt.

In terms of form factor, you get the problem of bowl escapees:
They are small and light enough that one’s efforts to spoon ’em up (as the level in the bowl declines) serve to simply push many of them to the edge of the bowl, and eventually over the edge, onto your lap, newspaper, floor, or dog. They don’t float as easily as other cereal, so getting your spoon directly underneath becomes more difficult. A beveled edge on the cereal piece might help here. Otherwise, the fingers of the other hand can be used in a daring pincer movement with the spoon to ensure all gets eaten.

Or, use more-than-needed milk to ensure that there’s always floating going on. It’s obviousy a matter of taste. Me, I can’t stand wasting the milk, and I often have concerns that too much milk may lead to premature sogginess.

As far as that goes, in the time it took to eat a small bowl, hungrily, they were starting to soften. No mushiness at all, but certainly not the original crispiness. A dawdling child who didn’t want to finish would probably end up with cereal pieces losing integrity and becoming seriously mushy.

A few minutes later and I’m having a minor sugar buzz. Extremely pleasant, just what you want from a morning cereal – maybe you’re awake, but maybe you could go back to sleep with that slight jitter behind your eyeballs. Bit of an unpleasant aftertaste, nothing a slug of OJ wouldn’t wash away.

This one is a fringe play, it’s got an interesting story, but there doesn’t seem to be anything serious behind it. It has to live on the shelves next to everything else; we found it on an end-cap and it jumped out there, but how will it survive? Again, it’s founded on some closely-held beliefs about the mom-child purchase process, but those may not be accurate enough to generate the kind of sales that will keep this product on the market.


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