Earlier this year at Expo West, PepsiCo's president of North America Nutrition Seth Kaufman said 2018 was set to be 'the most transformational year for Quaker in its history'. Quaker – a brand synonymous with traditional breakfast oats – recently rolled out its Morning Go-Kits across mass retail stores in US, marking its first move into the chiller.
And while this is a competitive section of the store, Robbert Rietbroek, general manager for Quaker, said the brand is ready to take it on.
This is a good strategy for us and the retailer
“Consumers don't expect us there, but since we have such a high penetration and because of the high brand recognition of Quaker, we actually learned that when consumers see us in the chilled section they very easily accept us there,” Rietbroek told FoodNavigator-USA.
Each kit contains three separately packaged components: a yogurt, Quaker flats and a trail mix to form a “nutritious on-the-go kit”, he said, that can be eaten in one go or stretched across the day.
“The good news is, the velocity of those SKUs is up-performing our estimates. It seems to be a big idea.
“...We know that on-the-go and convenience is a category that's in strong growth - this proposition fits right with that growth and is a good strategy for us as a company as well as for the retailer,” he said.
Asked who the target consumer was, Rietbroek said the 'nutrition-forward' category. “The nutrition-forward consumer is an interesting profile because it's approximately 45% of the US population but it spans across demographics and ethnicities. So, you'll find nutrition-forward consumers among boomers, Hispanics and among millennials.
“It's interesting because those nutrition-forward consumers have a higher involvement in food and nutrition in general, and they set higher standards compared to other consumers. For us, they're really a wonderful design target.”
In terms of brand communication, Quaker has shifted from decades of emotional messaging, he said, to “functional benefit-driven” advertising focused on heart health, gut health and long-lasting energy.
“What we've actually learned, particularly with all the millennials, is we have to continuously inform and continue to educate consumers about the benefits of oats.
'People are definitely consuming oats throughout the day'
Rietbroek said whilst traditional oats remained Quaker's core business and continued to gain momentum, it was important the brand broadened its offering to follow a clear “shift in form” around oat consumption.
“What we've realized is that people are definitely consuming oats throughout the day,” he said, and whether that be in smoothie or snack form, portability was clearly on the rise.
The Morning Go-Kits tapped into this, he said, and so too did Quaker's 'sandwich minis' or wholegrain biscuits set to launch later this year. The biscuits contain 8g protein and 12g wholegrains per 35g pouch.
“We're launching forms that deliver the benefits of oats but don't necessarily require you to cook it at home; heat up water; put it in the pan. Whilst that part of the business is still growing as well, we see shifts in behavior.”
Quaker had also recently launched Simple & Wholesome blended non-GMO and organic oats, as well as a gluten-free variant and muesli online.
“We usually don't make any predictive statements about the future, but essentially, the key choices we're making is to make sure that we are expanding our offerings into growing areas, so capitalizing on trends in the market like portability, single-serve, non-GMO, organic and gluten-free – those are some,” said Rietbroek.
“We've now expanded our portfolio to address all of those needs.”