Age and habit influence cereal choice, says study

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags General mills Cereal

Age and habit are key influencing factors when it comes to the type
of cereal US consumers choose to buy, according to a recent study
by Zogby International.

The study, which found that General Mills is the preferred cereal brand choice in the US, revealed that older consumers are more likely to stick to a cereal they have become used to, whereas younger consumers have more disparate tastes.

"This is partly the reason why Raisin Bran topped the list of consumer preference,"​ said Fritz Wenzil, director of communications at Zogby. "The cereal first appeared in 1926 and is the favourite of 21 per cent of consumers above the age of 65."

Both Kellogg and Post manufacture cereals under the name, although according to Wenzil the younger version by Kellogg is proving more popular due to its claims of higher raisin concentration.

The survey, which was conducted using a base of 15,556 adults, found that consumers under the age of 30 showed a preference for General Mills cereal Cinamon Toast Crunch, although tastes in this sector of the population varied greatly due to the wide variety of choice available on the market.

"In the 70's, 80's, and even the 90's, the cereal market became a more fractured industry, with many new products introduced. Younger consumers have become used to being able to swap and change,"​ Wenzil told

"Another trend we have picked up on is that the younger population prefers sugary cereals, whereas the older a consumer gets, the less sugar they want, trending instead towards products that offer nutritional components such as wholegrain or bran."

Last year, General Mills was the first leading cereal maker to convert all its US cereal to wholegrain in anticipation of the nation's new dietary guidelines, published in January this year, which recommend the consumption of three portions of wholegrains per day.

General Mills claims to have always had consumer health at the core of its product development.

"In the 1960's we were the first company to fortify our Total cereal brand with 100 per cent essential vitamins and minerals,"​ said a company spokeperson.

The Kellogg Company is also focusing on the growing health and nutrition trend, highlighting the benefits of fibre and wholegrains in its cereals in order to promote its product appeal to health conscious consumers.

General Mills' Cheerios cereal came second after Raisin Bran, chosen by 13 per cent of consumers. Kellogg's Special K and Frosted Flakes also ranked high on the list of preference.

According to market researcher Mintel, the cereal market in the US is currently valued at $8.9bn (€7.4bn), which marks a 7 per cent decline since 2000, with the effects of inflation taken into account.

The decreasing child population and an increase in competition from alternative breakfast products as consumers opt for more portable and convenient foods have contributed to the decline in cereal sales, said Mintel.

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