General Mills has learned that two toasts are not better than one.
After less than a year on the market, General Mills is ditching the Tiny Toast brand name, a product lauded last June as its first new cereal in 15 years. But while its moniker will change, the product will remain on shelves and now be part of Big G's Toast Crunch line.
It's not really clear why the company opted to give Tiny Toast a brand name separate from its popular Cinnamon Toast Crunch and French Toast Crunch in the first place.
During a conference call a few weeks after Tiny Toast's debut, an analyst asked about how the Tiny Toast brand fit into General Mills' portfolio and why there was a need for a new brand. In his response, CEO Ken Powell called Tiny Toast a "very whimsical product" with a very whimsical name and marketing, but did not discuss the reasoning behind separating the two toast-based cereal brands.
The launch did not generate too much buzz, though Stephen Colbert joked it could be "the biggest breakfast news since Sonny the Cuckoo Bird finally went into rehab."
For whatever reason, the company is reversing strategy, folding Blueberry Toast Crunch and Strawberry Toast Crunch into what's being touted as the "Toast Crunch family."
"With the similarities to products in the Toast Crunch family, from a marketing perspective it makes it easier for us to introduce these products to more people and it reaffirms that they taste great," General Mills said in a statement. "It will also allow us to create fun marketing integrations now that the Toast Crunch family is expanding."
Walrus worked on the launch of Tiny Toast. While the brand was given its own webpage, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, nothing appears to have been posted in months. Joan now handles the Toast Crunch business, General Mills said.
General Mills declined to share sales data. According to IRI, Tiny Toast notched $13.3 million in sales since its introduction versus $370.3 million for Cinnamon Toast Crunch for the 52 weeks ended May 14 in supermarkets, c-stores and other outlets.
Spending on Tiny Toast appeared to live up to the product's name, with media spending of roughly $133,900 last year, according to data from Kantar Media. Meanwhile, General Mills spent about $36.4 million on Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
General Mills has been facing a number of headwinds. U.S. retail cereal sales fell 1% in the recent fiscal third quarter, an improvement over the first half of the year and the smallest percentage decline in its U.S. retail operating units. Sales fell 4% in snacks, 10% in meals and baking and a staggering 20% in yogurt, an area where General Mills already has plans for new products to help boost sales. At the same time, the company is working with a number of new creative agencies after a major review last year. Plus, Chief Marketing Officer Ann Simonds left at the end of 2016, followed by the departure of Chief Creative Officer Michael Fanuele weeks ago.
Denise Lee Yohn, brand building consultant and author of What Great Brands Do, suggested that perhaps General Mills thought that launching an entirely new brand would help the product get more shelf space and attention from grocers. "It really makes more sense for them as a company to be rationalizing their portfolio, reducing their number of brands, and really building equity in some of these really more powerful brands," she said.