Cereal, is it as healthy as they say it is?

In the Natural Cereals case study, Sally an upcoming Marketing professional along with her Product Manager, Joe and their group manager, Tom were tasked with improving the market share of an adult cereal through advertising and labeling strategies. Currently, the marketing trend is using various health-related phrases referencing the nutritional value of cereal. Sally’s two managers at Breakfast Foods, Inc. decided she should also push towards a health-campaign by advertising the health benefits of eating bran and fiber which aid in preventing cancer. The FDA had been proposing regulations regarding this type of advertising. The FDA wants to ensure advertising is truthful and not misleading. It should be based on reliable scientific evidence and that good nutrition is a function of total diet over time, not specific foods- like cereal.

Sally is hesitant on the aggressive marketing strategy because though what their marketing message is truthful, she feels it does not deliver the complete message. They implement the agreed upon marketing campaign and the press gives Breakfast Foods, Inc. negative publicity stating they have jumped on the health bandwagon of making misleading or incomplete health claims due to the fact that the cereal label does not state how much fiber one should consume to aid in the prevention of cancer.

Now, the three Marketing professionals have to decide what to do next.

Question:

 

1.   Does Breakfast Foods, Inc. have a responsibility to educate its consumers about nutrition?

  1. How should the three Marketing professionals address the negative publicity about their alleged misleading advertising campaign.

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5 Responses to Cereal, is it as healthy as they say it is?

  1. Marc D. says:

    1. Breakfast Foods, Inc. has no formal responsibility to educate its consumers about nutrition. Regardless, the company would be well served by being open with the customer and giving them the nutrition information they want.

    2. Its tough to overcome negative publicity–one shot can tear your company down fast despite all the good work. There is only one way to recover–do the right thing and give it time. In this case the right thing is not to overstate the health claims. They might say “cereal high in fiber is part of a healthy diet along with exercise and MAY prevent certain types of cancer.” To support this, invite the consumer to visit the company website where they can obtain further information about health, nutrition, and cancer. Invite open feedback; start a discussion.

  2. greenmba2008 says:

    I agree with the previous comment, I don’t think that Breeakfast Foods Inc has a responsibility to educate it’s customers, but it may have a responsibility to itself to educate its customers. I think it is possible that the company may be able to recover from the negative publicity by acknowledging their negligence and then pledging to educate themselves and use this education to serve their consumers better in the future. They were looking for an aggressive ad campaign at the beginning but they actually weren’t aggressive enough. They undermined themselves by making claims without the accompanying facts. Sally’s initial concern was that though the campaign was truthful, it did not deliver the complete message. I think that Sally let her company down at that moment, she saw the potential for trouble but did not act on her concerns. If the product is sound the company may be able to turn the tables by taking charge of the situation. By doing some homework and revising their claims they can begin to position themselves as a company that learns from its mistakes and takes consumer opinion seriously.

  3. greenmba2008 says:

    I do not believe that the company has a responsibility to educate it’s customers on the health benefits of their products. However, I do believe that there is a customer loyalty benefit in doing so. I believe that people want to trust the products that they buy and the companies that stand behind them and an open, honest dialogue could begin to build trust and subsequent loyalty. I also believe that the negative publicity has created an opportunity that the company can leverage to gain brand perception. They should use the beginnings of this public dialogue to reach out to consumers and educate them while at the same time pursue product developments thats would enhance the health benefits. This approach would drive their marketing efforts and their corporate values back into alignment.

  4. greenmba2008 says:

    The people who came up with this campaign should be fired. Due to the negative results of their deception, sales of cereal are down. Perhaps these three can be arrested as Cereal (sales) killers?

  5. my site says:

    my site…

    [...]Cereal, is it as healthy as they say it is? « Green MBA @ Antioch University New England[...]…

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