Last week, General Mills announced it was bringing back the iconic shapes of its popular fruity cereal, Trix. This change comes on the heels of over 20,000 customer requests to re-instate the bright berries and melons that defined the brand from 1991 to 2006. Scott Baldwin, General Mills Cereal’s director of marketing, explained the choice in the company’s blog: “We have heard from an overwhelming number of Trix fans who have been calling, emailing and reaching out on social media telling us that they want fruity shapes back. Kids of the 90s can rejoice, their fruity shapes are back in Trix.”
This is not the first nostalgia-fueled brand decision from the cereal giant in recent years. General Mills re-released Cinnamon Toast Crunch in 2016, with a Millennial-minded online campaign featuring TV psychic Miss Cleo as their spokesperson. In 2015, the brand initiated an annual special edition re-release of Count Chocula cereal during Halloween. It even created a Lucky Charms-themed Snapchat filter for St. Patrick’s day to better engage with young adult audiences.
While many brands are emphasizing healthfulness in their marketing and aiming new products towards dietary trends such as paleo, gluten free and whole grain, General Mills is leaning into consumer nostalgia. The redesign of the technicolor corn puffs feature the cereal’s distinctive tagline (Trix are for Kids) on the side of the box, but General Mills’ marketing betrays that the target audience is anything but. In a struggling cereal market, where sales have declined 9% since 2012, according to a 2017 Mintel report, it is no surprise that cereal brands are doing whatever they can to maintain the Millennial audience, who generally eschew cereal as a breakfast food in favor of more protein-rich alternatives. However, Mintel’s findings suggest that cereal’s biggest growth potential lies in consumption as a snack food, and Millennials lead a growing trend in snacking. Generally, consumers are more likely to choose a sugary cereal as a snack than a breakfast food, so an increase in snacking only serves to help bolster sales of previously child-focused (and very sweet) cereals.
It is unclear if this nostalgia marketing will have a long term effect on consumer purchases. Campaigns pegged to holidays or other short-term events certainly offer opportunities for General Mills to reconnect with consumers, many of whom learned to read from the brightly colored boxes featuring Trix the Rabbit, Toucan Sam and Cap’n Crunch at the breakfast table, in a deeply personal way. It seems that General Mills and other brands marketing to Millennials can often oversimplify messaging and rely solely on nostalgia instead of innovation in their product lines and branding. Even the deepest nostalgia eventually runs out as consumers look for healthier, sustainable or trendier options. As the kids of the ’90s continue to grow up, it will be General Mills’ challenge to learn to grow with them.
More Info: forbes.com