Grab a spoon, a bowl, and your milk of choice, because March 7th, 2022 marks National Cereal Day! Whether you’re someone who starts every morning with a bowl of Corn Flakes, or if you’re more of a late-night snack bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch kind of person, there’s no wrong way to celebrate this unofficial holiday.
As for us? Well, we’re going to celebrate the best way we know how, by diving deep into our data to learn more about Americans’ relationship with breakfast cereal. Are there certain times of year where people are more or less likely to buy a box of cereal? Which types are the most popular? And has the pandemic changed demand for cereal?
Pour yourself a bowl and keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and more!
Everyone has their favorite kind of cereal, but is there a clear winner when it comes to online demand? To discover the king of breakfast, we started with analyzing total online demand in all of 2021 for different types. Here’s what we found:
It was a tight battle for the most popular cereal in 2021, but Cinnamon Toast Crunch just edged out Rice Krispies to claim the crown. Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms weren’t far behind, either, putting all four of these in a tier of their own.
Honey Nut Cheerios was able to fend off Raisin Bran for the #5 spot, and after that we see another drop to Fruity Pebbles and Special K.
Of course, we couldn’t include every single type of cereal in our analysis, and instead chose to focus on some of the most popular and prominent ones. Of those we did include, Coca Krispies saw the least amount of demand. Count Chocula, which is only widely available around October, was second to last, while Golden Grahams, Wheaties, and French Toast Crunch (a cereal that was brought back thanks to popular demand), round out the bottom five.
Again, don’t worry if your favorite cereal is at the bottom of this list, as there are _many _cereals that would certainly fall below them if we were to include every possible type of breakfast cereal.
Now that we know which cereals are the most popular, let’s take a step back and examine a broader view of breakfast cereals as a category.
Is there a specific time of year when breakfast cereal is more or less popular? And what about National Cereal Day? Does it move the needle for demand at all? Let’s start by examining weekly demand for the entire category of “breakfast cereal” last year.
Online demand for breakfast cereal was generally consistent throughout the year, but was highest during January and February. It then fell off during the spring, where it remained consistent throughout the summer and fall, until dropping again during the holidays.
It’s obviously difficult to determine the causes behind these changes in demand. Perhaps the drop in online demand last spring and summer was driven by more people returning to in-person grocery shopping after staying at home to avoid the Delta variant. Or, perhaps January and February simply represent the typical peak for breakfast cereal shopping.
One thing is certain, though: National Cereal Day doesn’t appear to move the needle for online demand for breakfast cereals, as the week of March 7th didn’t bring any special increase in demand.
Let’s look at the change in weekly demand for some of the most popular types of breakfast cereal:
For the most part, the trends for our most popular types of cereal were fairly consistent throughout the year. One notable difference, though, is Lucky Charms: which saw demand rise steadily through February and peaking during March, although this is certainly as a result of St. Patrick’s Day and not National Cereal Day.
Several top cereals saw demand drop to low points in the late spring and early summer, particularly Honey Nut Cheerios, which saw demand fall by as much as 42% compared to the annual average during the first week of June.
Another interesting dip experienced by most of the top cereals was during the week of Thanksgiving, as apparently shoppers are far too busy prioritizing big meal items than a box of Raisin Bran.
Another notable spike: Rice Krispies during the holidays, no doubt the result of millions of Americans looking to bring a big plate of homemade Rice Krispie treats to their holiday party.
From what we’ve seen so far, some cereals are clearly impacted by certain holidays or times of year: Rice Krispies being hugely popular during Christmas, Lucky Charms during St. Patrick’s Day, etc.
But the final thing we wanted to investigate was what kind of impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on breakfast cereals. To do this, we examined monthly demand over the past three years.
Let’s start by examining breakfast cereal as a category:
Here we see that there was a clear and immediate impact on online demand for breakfast cereal in the first months of the COVID outbreak in March and April 2020. In March, as people across the country began to stock up in preparation for an uncertain length of time spent sheltering in place, online demand shot up by 72% compared to the previous month.
Demand then settled into a more typical flow through the rest of 2020, though staying consistently ahead of 2019’s pre-pandemic figures. 2021, meanwhile, has seen demand match that of 2020’s (except, of course, for March and April).
Here’s a weekly view of 2020 for an even closer look at how those first few weeks of COVID-19 shutdowns impacted online demand for breakfast cereal:
Demand started to spike already during the second week of March, cresting the following week where it was up by more than 100% compared to mid-February. By early May, once most grocery stores had begun to return to normal hours, demand had settled back to pre-shutdown levels.
As people were hurriedly adding boxes of cereal to their Amazon shopping carts during the first months of COVID shutdowns, were they more likely to opt for certain types of cereal than others? Or was it more of a free for all?
Let’s find out.
Every single type of cereal saw an increase in demand during the first week of COVID-19 shutdowns when compared to the month prior, but none more than Honey Nut Cheerios which saw demand surge by a stunning 215%.
Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran, and Frosted Flakes got the next largest bumps, as people were clearly most eager to stock up on the “standard” cereals.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which was the most popular type of cereal overall in 2021, still got a sizable increase in demand at 79% but fell much lower on this list than many others.
The lowest increase went to Count Chocula, which was undoubtedly hard for intrepid shoppers to find in mid-March.
Here’s a closer look at the change in weekly demand in 2020 for some of these cereals:
There’s simply no doubt that panic shopping sent demand for several types of cereal skyrocketing during the first weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak. Interestingly, though, it seems that this impact was mostly temporary. Each of the types of cereal in this view saw demand fall to at or below the annual average by May.
National Cereal Day might not really move the needle when it comes to online demand for breakfast cereal, but that doesn’t mean that other holidays and events don’t.
Some cereals are closely tied to certain holidays, like Lucky Charms and St. Patrick’s Day, or Rice Krispies and Chex to Christmas. Others, meanwhile, seem to enjoy pretty consistent popularity throughout the year. And the early pandemic shutdowns clearly had people eager to stock up on old favorites like Honey Nut Cheerios and Raisin Bran.
Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.
To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights on the right.
And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, talk to us today.
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Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.
If you’re interested in expanding your brand internationally, you’re probably familiar with Tmall. Tmall is Asia-Pacific’s (APAC) largest marketplace, and indisputably the biggest ecommerce powerhouse in the world. It represents a huge opportunity for many brands, but entering the space is also a big challenge to take on.
At Pattern, we recommend brands looking to enter international markets should first focus on dialing in their domestic presence. Once you’re satisfied that your brand is well-represented and optimized locally, you’re ready to think about tackling new regions, like APAC, and launching on marketplaces like Tmall. Our top advice for entering Tmall is to understand and strategize around its three most important metrics: service, delivery, and content.
Service, delivery, and content ratings are the three elements that make up Tmall’s Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) score. Each component is scored on a scale of 1-5 that is displayed publicly on your brand’s Tmall flagship store page. This is meant to help consumers decide whether or not to purchase your products.
DSR scores are important because they’re highly influential in driving conversions—customers see DSRs as a way to quickly understand if a brand is trustworthy and worth buying from. They also matter quite a bit to Tmall itself—they monitor these scores and will take action to close flagship stores with low scores.
Let’s go over each element of the DSR score and some steps you’ll need to take to achieve high ratings.
Service is a huge ecommerce component in APAC marketplaces. In most other regions, product listings are static, and consumers use content and reviews to make a decision about what to purchase. On Tmall, consumers want to interact with your brand and test its validity before buying—each transaction takes at least one human interaction to convert.
So, to get a great service rating, you’ll need to have a large, established customer service team dedicated to Tmall sales that can offer real, human touchpoints and very fast response times. To get an idea of the speed your agents should be capable of producing, in our Tmall benchmarking exercise, 92.5% of brands’ customer service agents replied to queries via live chat within 30 seconds, 5% replied within one minute and the remaining 2.5% of brands took longer than a minute. So, look for a Trade Partner (TP) that has enough resources to compete with those numbers, support your sales, and maintain a good DSR score.
Another thing you’ll really want to focus on is a high-quality delivery experience for consumers. As in other regions around the world, Tmall consumers have high expectations for their delivery experience. In our Chinese consumer polling report that targeted consumers buying from Tmall Global, we found that 6% expected same-day delivery, 15% expected next-day delivery, and 46% expected 2-5 day delivery.They want to receive their products fast and they want the products to be undamaged and pristine upon arrival.
So, to achieve a high score for your delivery capabilities, we highly recommend partnering with a TP or ecommerce accelerator like Pattern (which serves as a TP) who has the ability to facilitate your distribution. Make sure your TP has the right infrastructure in place to support high-quality logistics experiences for all of your consumers—they should have an established, well-oiled delivery process in place and the capability to fluidly add you to their current fulfillment system.
As in every digital marketplace, content is a huge component of the decision-making process for consumers on Tmall—they can’t touch your product with their hands or see it in person before buying, so it’s important they’re empowered to make a good decision on whether or not to purchase based on the videos, images, and copy.
The goal is to make all of the content and relevant information on your flagship site easily-accessible—consumers should be able to visit your page and make a decision about whether or not to buy without navigating to a new site/page and taking their conversions with them. Images with text and extensive product details are a great way to do this, as well as making sure your service team can speak to all aspects of your product with any consumers (via text or chat).
As the world’s foremost brand partner for ecommerce acceleration, Pattern truly understands the significance of international expansion. With regional offices around the world, Pattern knows how to successfully launch and grow brands on Tmall and other marketplaces, with the data, insights, and marketplace intelligence to build the metrics that matter.
It’s important to have a fantastic brand presence, a knowledgeable guide, and a clear go-forward strategy for your best chance at success. With our in-country resources, expert teams, and extensive experience in growing brands around the globe, Pattern can help you get there.
Set up a call to get your international expansion strategy in motion.