EDITORIAL: Changing habits can hit even the biggest brands

A new report from WPP’s Brandz survey, which questions 70,000 consumers across seven major world markets, including the UK, France, Germany and the US, names Kellogg’s Corn Flakes as the fourth strongest superbrand among European consumers. The survey was based on people’s attitudes and loyalty toward a brand, and ranked above Kellogg were the likes of Gillette, McDonald’s and Pampers.

A new report from WPP’s Brandz survey, which questions 70,000

consumers across seven major world markets, including the UK, France,

Germany and the US, names Kellogg’s Corn Flakes as the fourth strongest

superbrand among European consumers. The survey was based on people’s

attitudes and loyalty toward a brand, and ranked above Kellogg were the

likes of Gillette, McDonald’s and Pampers.



Yet Kellogg the company, despite its Superbrand status, is in serious

trouble. Earlier this month the US-based business announced it was axing

500 head office staff and a further 240 contract staff. The cutbacks

come after Kellogg already shed some 1200 staff between 1995 and 1996.

In the UK this week it announced it was slashing the price of several of

its leading cereal brands.



Kellogg has been overtaken by changes in the market largely beyond its

control. People in the UK and in other countries do not eat the same

amount of breakfast cereal they once did. But most tellingly, own-label

cereal brands, with aggressive pricing, have eroded Kellogg’s share of a

declining market. Even with price cuts, Kellogg cereal brands remain

significantly more expensive than the own-label competitors which have

done so much to damage them. The decline in Kellogg’s fortunes shows

that even Superbrands cannot escape the inevitable consequences of

change in the way people live and consume. The company insists that it

will not follow Heinz, which in August 1995 abandoned a 100-year-old

tradition by starting production of own-label beans for retailers.

’Beanz Meanz Heinz’ could no longer be quite so proudly declared.

Kellogg, in a similar vein, has always insisted ’We don’t make cereal

for anyone else’. Ultimately if the market further declines and

own-label brands continue to increase their share, the cereal giant may

have to reassess its position. Kellogg’s problems illustrate that even

though consumers may recognise a Superbrand, that doesn’t guarantee

they’ll buy it.



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