What do corn flakes have to do with marketing?

Written by Katie Petersen

Ever heard of Bran Flakes? Maybe, but chances are probably not. I’m willing to bet, however, that you have heard of Corn Flakes. You know, the flaky, curled, corn-like cereal that people have been eating for almost 100 years. So, how does everyone know what Corn Flakes are but not what Bran Flakes are?

During the Great Depression in the 1930s, people were limiting their spending and the breakfast cereal industry was facing challenges. At the time, both Corn Flakes and Bran Flakes were popular cereals amongst consumers. While most cereal companies, including Bran Flakes, were limiting their marketing dollars and reducing spending, Kellogg’s, the manufacturer of Corn Flakes, took a different approach in navigating the depression.

Instead of reducing their marketing, Kellogg’s realized that it was a better idea to adjust their strategies to resonate with the financial constraints of the time and to tap into the emotions of the populous. They addressed head on that times were tough and people did not have extra funds to spend on high-priced breakfast cereal. Kellogg’s began capitalizing on the fact that Corn Flakes was a budget-friendly, yet still nutritious, breakfast option. They launched a targeted marketing campaign that emphasized affordability and health, positioning themselves as the economical choice for families that were struggling through the Depression.

One of the greatest parts of their campaign was the promotions they included. We all take box-tops for granted today, but Kellogg’s introduction of these small discounts in exchange for proofs of purchase incentivized consumers to buy Corn Flakes. They also began heavily advertising Corn Flakes through a variety of mediums, like newspapers, radio, and billboards. 

What Kellogg’s accomplished was quite impressive. During a time when the country was in an economic downturn and most companies were pulling back on their marketing, they went all in. With the right message that resonated with their audience, combined with a few additional discounts to show that they understood their audiences’ needs, they solidified themselves as a household name and have stood the test of time ever since. 

What if you applied this same technique to your marketing?

Every year, I hear from so many companies that they want to cut costs and plan to scale back on their marketing. While I understand that business finances sometimes necessitate this, I do always wonder if, instead of pulling back, what if those companies went all in? What if they, like Kellogg’s, took a chance and gave it everything they had? 

Sure, not everything may turn out perfectly. And it is more likely than not that your business will have some set backs. But how will you ever know what you could accomplish if you don’t try to embody what Kellogg’s did?

Here are my top 3 tips for how to market like Kellogg’s in 2024:

  1. Embrace Data-Driven Insights: Data has always been king and that is even more true in 2024! If your company does not actively track data insights, it’s time to start! Invest in data analytics and leverage insights to drive your marketing decisions. Utilize sophisticated tools, like Outreach, Drift, Sproutsocial or ChatGPT to analyze consumer behavior, preferences, and trends. By understanding your audience better, you can tailor your marketing strategies to be more targeted and effective.
  2. Ramp Up Personalization: Marketing, and social media especially, has become about community. Fostering a community with your audience means connecting with them personally! Consumers now expect brand to not only cater to the needs but understand and empathize with their needs! Utilize AI-driven technologies to customize content, recommendations, and interactions across various touchpoints. Implement personalized email marketing, dynamic website content, and AI-powered chatbots to engage customers on a one-to-one level, fostering stronger connections and increasing conversions.
  3. Invest in Emerging Technologies: Did we mention AI above? If you haven’t tried out ChatGPT yet, now is the time to do so! Utilizing AI to help you analyze data and create content will become a game changer and will put you miles ahead of your competition. In order to do so, however, you need to invest in the technology now!

If 2024 is anything for your company’s marketing, let it be the year you embrace taking a chance on yourself. Your choices may surprise you and who knows? You may even end up as the next Corn Flakes.

For those that want extra help with their marketing, reach out to an ArboRisk team member today to get signed up for our Thrive Sales & Marketing Package!