Do you ever think about your younger days when everyday before class you sat down at the table with your favorite bowl of cereal? Maybe you were one of those people who enjoyed looking at the box every day even though you already read it over a hundred times. As a kid, eating cereal in this way was a very personal experience, it was enjoyed and it wasn’t rushed or forced. If this rings true for your childhood, it is likely that your breakfasts now do not play out the same way. But the memory of a pleasant childhood is nostalgic to say the least, just like your parents yelling at you to come home when the lights in the street came on, the feeling can’t last forever… or can it? General Mills is capitalizing on branded nostalgia by bringing back a long time favorite that disappeared off the shelves nearly 10 years ago, their French Toast Crunch cereal.
Yes, you heard me right. If you are a big fan of this cereal, it is now the time to rejoice. These tiny pieces of bread have developed a cult following after it disappeared in 2006, with some fans driving across the Canadian borders (where it was still being distributed) to buy boxes. The Facebook campaign to bring back the cereal had garnered over 9,000 likes and since the discontinuation, General Mills has been getting thousands of calls and emails a month. But why all the hubub over a cereal?
Susan Newman, Ph.D., a social psychologist and ardent consumer of Rice Krispies since childhood, believes cereal is able to take up residency in the brain due to the positive associations with simpler times. Hence, all the nostalgia! Maybe that’s why consumers sometimes get so distraught when their favorite cereal disappears. At the time, the French Toast Crunch cereal seemed like the most unlikely candidate for such a reverence. It was on the shelves for less than a decade, had no memorable box mascot, and created little stir when it was discontinued nearly 10 years ago. But the cereal had managed to become iconic in it’s own special way.
With the current consumer trends being on the healthier side, it would seem like a stretch to release a product that would be frowned upon because it is a “sugary” cereal. General Mills is hopeful that the millennials who have been crying out to bring back this cereal would keep it relevant because it has become more of a comfort food rather than a part of a modern day breakfast. With General Mills coming out with more healthy cereal options, it made sense to balance out the line-up with a less serious product.
For the re-launch of French Toast Crunch, General Mills did no additional market research, but instead leveraged social media and the passion of consumers to help promote the product. The advertising for the revival will also be limited to social reaction. General Mills wasted no time in leveraging the cereal’s social following; a tweet was sent out with the hashtag #Frenchtoastisback and suddenly the announcement started trending worldwide.