Innovation behind Focused Market Segmentation Yields Strong Business Performance for Special K Cracker Chips

Innovation behind Focused Market Segmentation Yields Strong Business Performance for Special K Cracker Chips

Chris Casey, Nielsen’s Senior Vice President Global Consumer Strategy and Global Innovation Practice, recently identified several high-growth brands that are showing good promise for winning the Nielsen Breakthrough Innovation Award in 2013.  According to the Nielsen Breakthrough Innovation webinar held on Dec. 14, 2012, one of the brands ‘to watch’ is Kellogg’s Special K Cracker Chips based on the brand’s strong business performance.

The Special K brand has long been known for its weight management products, including cereal and snack bars, as well as drinks/shakes.  The product line has been expanded to include brownies, pastries, snacks, frozen sandwiches and waffles, giving its target consumer more options when electing to follow the weight loss plan. According to Kellogg’s,

“Special K continues to expand the Special K brand’s lineup of smart snacks for weight managers. These reflect the understanding that people’s taste preference tend to move from sweet to savory as the day progresses.”

Special K Cracker Chips Product Strategy Approach

The Special K Cracker Chips line recognizes that consumers have different taste preferences and that palates have broadened in recent years.  For instance, Cracker Chips has more ‘tried and true’ flavors, such as Cheddar and Sour Cream & Onion, along with updated flavors like Honey Barbeque, Southwest Ranch and Sea Salt.

With 27 to 30 cracker chips for 110 calories, this is a snack that allows the target consumer to stay with her eating goals and also enjoy sweet, salty and spicy options.  Other parts of the Cracker Chip line include Popcorn Chips and Special K Crackers, which provide 10 grams of whole grains per serving.  We’ve seen evidence in several categories that consumers are looking for spicier palates (as we discussed in the article about children and Takis) and also sweet and salty combinations.

Special K Marketing Strategy Approach

The overarching marketing communication message that Special K sends to its target, mostly female, weight-manager consumer is focused on ‘positivity,’ celebrating who she is.  The Gains Project explicitly encourages women to feel beautiful and confident, and not be measured by a number (like her size or weight)..

In a recent execution, the scale registers positive emotions for the consumer who steps on it, tying into this message.

Here’s a print visual, showing the same ad concept:


With their Cracker Chips, Special K has been highly active with digital and social media. For example, in September 2012, Special K had a London pop-up Tweet Shop to promote the launch of the line in the UK. The brand also launched an updated mobile app to support consumer weight management efforts and reinforce the brand’s ‘positivity’ positioning.

The combination of innovative product, positive marketing strategies and novel approaches are driving results for Special K’s Cracker Chips with their target consumer. Special K provides an instructive example for any brand seeking to understand and appeal to a highly-specific market segment.

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    Michal Clements

    Michal is co-author of Tuning Into Mom and an experienced consultant. Michal develops winning growth strategies and detailed go to market plans for some of the world’s outstanding organizations including McDonald’s, Gatorade, Abbott, Barilla, Tylenol, Clorox, Key Bank, Eagle Ottawa, Quaker and the Baker Demonstration School.

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