Post wants more buzz in the cereal aisle with Tims

From Shopper Marketing Report: Trusted brands may be the way to make the most of a category that's starting to wake up.

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Post Consumer Brands is turning another Tim Hortons favourite into something that can be brought to grocery’s centre aisle.

Post’s Tim Hortons Café Mocha is a chocolate, coffee and mocha marshmallow-flavored cereal, launched a year after Post’s Timbits Chocolate Glazed Cereal and Timbits Birthday Cake Cereal tempted sweet tooths at grocery stores nationwide.

Tausif Hossain, senior brand manager for Post Foods, tells strategy that the cereal category has been experiencing growth versus last year.

“With more consumers being at home for breakfast coupled with a resurgence in nostalgic comfort foods, we’ve seen an increase in the number of eating occasions,” Hossain says. Recent GlobalData numbers back that up, showing the pandemic has driven cereal consumption higher because of its familiarity and more at-home breakfast occasions.

Cereal continues to be the top choice for Canadian at breakfast too, Hossain maintains, claiming that over the past five years the category has been relatively stable, hovering around $1 billion in annual sales.

Timbits cereal’s success was thanks to brand trust and recognition, Hossain says. That’s why Post is going with Tims again, as well as the opportunity to fill the absence of a coffee-flavoured product in the category.

TimHortons

Hossain says the biggest learning from the launch of Timbits cereal is that consumers are genuinely excited to see brands they recognize and trust in the cereal aisle. When it comes to familiarity, brand recognition doesn’t come any higher in Canada than Tim Hortons.

“As long as the brand fit is strong and the eating experience fulfils the proposition, consumers are willing to switch and make it part of their morning routine,” he adds. Partnerships, he says, are just one of the ways to bring excitement and novelty to the aisle.

On the packaging side, Hossain says that since Café Mocha is a unique flavour in the category, Post wanted to ensure the design prominently showed coffee and chocolate ingredients, as well as key visual elements of the Tim Horton’s brand so the product would be recognizable to Post cereal and Tim Horton fans alike. Key elements on pack include not only brand name, but also flavour, product imagery, and flavour cues, Hossain says.

The positioning and marketing is done collaboratively with Tim Hortons to ensure alignment and to ensure they are reflecting the core values and brand proposition of both Tim Hortons and Post. “As a result, the messaging feels very close to what you’d expect from a Tim Hortons product,” Hossain explains.

The shopper program is focusing on display, on-shelf and e-commerce.

According to Grant Packard, associate professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business, there isn’t really a “Canadiana” comfort cereal, other than perhaps Shreddies, so a brand pair-up between Post and Tim Hortons could really stand out in a category that’s was flat prior to the pandemic boost. 

Overall, however, Packard says health trends have driven people away from sugary cereals, as has the rise of “coffee-shop” culture having more people pick up a bagel or breakfast sandwich on the go. But even if that behaviour returns after the pandemic is over, the remaining cereal market is skewed to the kinds of classic branded cereals that this kind of offering would do well in.

Post Tim Hortons Café Mocha cereal will be available nationally at all major retailers.