Better Oats. Better innovation.

Our inaugural SagePoint Innovations blog features a product introduced this year that we are especially fond of—Better Oats.  In the spirit of full disclosure, this was a SagePoint project and Malt-O-Meal is one of our clients.  But we’re not brown-nosing or self-promoting here—this is oatmeal served with some sweet innovation.

Let’s start with the packaging.  Yes, the thin, vertical design is cute and contemporary—I’ve seen women ooh and ahh over it in focus groups.  But the real genius here are the Trade benefits—three SKU’s of Better Oats require the same linear inches on the shelf as a single package of Quaker Instant.  Just one of the reasons the brand is now in over 17,000 stores.

A five-pack is also a nice consumer benefit.  Easier to store in the pantry.  Nice to mix and match flavors.  (Consumers reported being frustrated by Quaker’s Variety Pack—there are always one or two flavors that nobody wants and don’t get eaten!)

A second packaging innovation is also quite clever.  Each single-serving envelope serves as a built-in measuring pouch.  Just fill to the dotted line with water and you avoid digging around for a measuring cup.  Simple, but extremely thoughtful and convenient.

The flavors are also worth noting.  Sure there are the usual suspects—Maple Brown Sugar, Apples & Cinnamon, etc.  But also Chai Spiced, Cinnamon Plum Spiced and Dark Chocolate, among others, making breakfast a little more interesting.   And Better Oats has gotten great reviews for taste, partly by using a thicker, chewier cut of oats and adding nice touches such as genuine fruit.  (Funny aside—Quaker has been getting by for years by using reconstituted apples for all of their fruit—add a little food coloring and artificial flavor and voila—they become strawberries, peaches, whatever!)

Finally, and this is subtle, but we also like the brand architecture.  Better Oats as the umbrella brand.  Eight sub-brands underneath it, each aimed at a specific target and benefit set, and various flavors under each of them.  Yet the unique packaging ties them all together as clearly one brand family.

But the proof is in the marketplace: Despite launching without advertising, Better Oats has taken on the Quaker behemoth and vaulted to #2 in the oatmeal category in less than a year.  And they have had a lot of fun doing it, as this video demonstrates!  watch?v=rX7JSaYgp_U

If Malt-O-Meal would have asked a thousand experts if they should enter the oatmeal category and challenge Quaker, 999 would have said no.  Fortunately, they didn’t listen to the experts.  Now they’re reaping the rewards of faith, effort and innovation.

About Bill Aho

Bill Aho is a partner with The SagePoint Group, hands-on consultants that develop innovative products, services and marketing concepts. Bill has worked in marketing, strategic planning, general management and innovation in Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Darden Restaurants and ClearPlay. He has appeared and been quoted in multiple TV, magazines and newspapers, including Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Business Week, MSNBC, BBC, PBS and others.
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One Response to Better Oats. Better innovation.

  1. Rebecca says:

    The dark chocolate lavish is simply divine with a tablespoon of peanut butter stirred in right after cooking in the microwave!

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