Kellogg’s Touts ‘Breakfast Aisle’ to Revitalize Center Store  

By Linda Winick

The Kellogg Company is obviously concerned about the decline in shopper traffic and excitement in the center store of supermarkets. But the maker of popular ready-to-eat breakfast cereals is doing something about it.
Its in-depth research of grocery shoppers revealed a desire to see other categories of breakfast foods in what traditionally has been a long aisle dominated by facings after facings of brightly-colored cereal boxes. The new assortment would include toaster pastries and breakfast bars in addition to hot and cold cereals.

“We came up with what we call ‘The Breakfast Aisle,’” said Stacey Ring-Sanders, vice president of category strategy and development for the Kellogg Company. “We rearranged the cereals, and then we added the other partnering categories to the aisle,” she explained in a presentation last month at the annual conference of the Category Management Association (CMA) in Las Vegas.

In this re-imagined cereal aisle, she said, the optimal adjacencies give grocers the ability to cross-merchandize products.

“As we looked at what interacted with cereal, it became very, very clear what the best arrangement of cereal was, and what that morning food aisle should look like,” she said. “There were things out there in the marketplace that didn’t make a lot of sense. We wanted to start looking at what were the best adjacencies to drive purchases that relate to that morning food occasion.”

Ring-Sanders believes that the change represents an evolution in category management. In the larger sense, she said, trading partners need to look at the store differently because very few category shelf changes will have significant impact on sales. CPG companies need to look at holistic solutions for retailers that impact not just their categories, but also the total store.

“What are destination categories? How does that change the game in terms of what we should be doing?” she asked. “Are categories spaced correctly based on [thinking] 20 years ago versus today, and how relevant are those specific categories?”

She said retailers need to make sure they are creating the most valuable and useful trip for shoppers so they’re getting the best experience and, hopefully, becoming a loyal shopper.

“Today, we are in an era where the shopper is king,” she said. “The shopper is making a lot of choices, whether through brick-and-mortar or other venues, to get what they want on a day-to-day basis. And they have lots of options. But we know that the [total number of] outlets a shopper is shopping has declined. So the shopper experience needs to be absolutely relevant.”

What was a product category ten years ago is no longer a category today in many cases, according to Ring-Sanders. As a result of the  regroupings, Kellogg’s later learned that shoppers were indeed looking at the other categories more when they were arranged together versus when they were in separate aisles. For grocers, that means concentrating on the store experience is critical to drive growth.

“Gone are the days of category only,” she explained. “People are not just eating cereal for breakfast nowadays; they’re eating a multitude of other things. Instead of focusing on cereal, Kellogg’s realized they needed to start talking to retailers about aisle management, and not just category management.”

Kellogg’s came up with a three-pronged strategy to improve store performance:

  • Optimize: How do you make the most of what you already have today? Expand the more profitable/under developed categories, and contract the shrinking ones.
  • Organize: How do you drive incrementality, ensuring shopper-centric layout and improving shopability and profit? Strategically place destination categories to drive shopper flow.
  • Excite: How do you re-energize the store to make it engaging and create a shopping destination? Utilize signage and fixtures to create engaging shopper experiences that differentiate your store.

“We talk about the next generation [of category management],” she said. “Where do we go with this? You’ve got category management, aisle management, total store management. But at the end of the day, shoppers aren’t the same everywhere. Next-generation thinking transforms us from a supply model to a demand model, allowing us to meet market needs with greater precision.”

Summing up, Ring-Sanders stressed:

  • Category management has evolved.
  • Few category shelf changes will have a significant impact on sales.
  • Best-in-class companies will be looking at holistic solutions for retailers that impact the total store, not just their categories.
  • To continue the evolution, more customized shopper-focused experiences will be imperative to win.

“It’s time to delight our shoppers, grow their baskets, and improve profitability,” she said.

                                                                            Early October 2016
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