Kellogg is focusing on regaining its momentum and “getting back on our front foot to return to sustainable growth,” John Bryant, Kellogg’s new president and chief executive, told SN.
To do so, it will continue to invest in innovation and brand building. “Kellogg is in great categories that are positioned for long-term growth,” he said. “To win in them, we need to play our game, including introducing exciting innovations driven by consumer insights.”
Kellogg is well positioned to tap into the major trends shaping the industry — specifically consumers’ increased focus on nutrition, said Bryant.
“Cereal is low-calorie and nutrient-dense, so our products play well with the health and wellness trend,” said Bryant.
A 13-year Kellogg veteran, Bryant succeeded David Mackay as president and CEO in January of this year. Along with serving as a member of Kellogg’s board of directors since July 2010, he has held several leadership roles, most recently as chief operating officer.
Bryant plans to continue driving Kellogg’s innovation strategy by using consumer-based insights.
For instance, in talking with consumers, Kellogg learned about the difficulties many adults and children with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease have finding foods they can enjoy.
That’s why it launched its first-ever gluten-free cereal: gluten-free Rice Krispies. The new cereal eliminates barley malt (the source of gluten in the original Rice Krispies cereal) and is made with whole grain brown rice to differentiate it from the original.
“Now, kids of all ages on gluten-free diets can enjoy the much-loved tradition of homemade Rice Krispies Treats,” Bryant said.
Kellogg plans to add more gluten-free products to the portfolio.
Such innovation comes at a time when the company is optimistic about its long-term growth potential and ability to weather inflationary pressures.
“While it varies year over year, we expect higher commodity costs over the long term with continued demand for grain worldwide,” Bryant noted.
While Kellogg and other cereal manufacturers have responded to this with higher pricing, Kellogg also addressed inflation through disciplined cost savings and productivity savings, said Bryant.
Strong innovation is a key driver of Kellogg’s business. The company plans to launch about $800 million worth of new products in 2011, up from about $600 million in 2009 and 2010.
In the snack business, Kellogg has seen early success of Special K cracker chips. And in frozen, Eggo launched Thick and Fluffy waffles, “which in my opinion are the best waffles we’ve ever made,” said Bryant.
Kellogg also brought Crunchy Nut cereal from the U.K. to the U.S., “where it was immediately embraced by consumers.”
Meanwhile, the company has adapted to the dramatically changed marketing environment by surrounding consumers with multiple touch points that extend beyond TV and print. These include digital, social, mobile and in-store.
“We’ve found that digital media, in particular, is an important tool for increasing the efficiency of our ad spend,” he said.