Who Moved My Raisin Nut Bran?

It’s time for a rant.

Some genius at General Mills has decided that the Raisin Nut Bran box needs an extreme makeover.

There is no change to the cereal itself, and no large advertising campaign to drive more consumers to sample the product, no in store merchandisers or big end cap displays. Not as far as I can tell, at least.

But in what can only be an act of sheer ego or stupidity, the brand manager has changed the box and abandoned the logo which makes it easy for regular buyers of Raisin Nut Bran to find the product and put it in their cart.

New and Improved?

Old box versus New box.

Now, you may wonder why I am worked up over this. Simply put, I am a huge believer in brands, identity systems, and making it easy for people to buy your product. It is hard to build a brand. It is hard to make your product stand for something. It is hard to build a following or loyal customer base and make them trust and even become passionate about your product or service. So any change in packaging, merchandising, logo design, look & feel must be well thought out and ADD VALUE either through the improvement in the design or by improving the product itself.

In this case, Raisin Nut Bran is a superior product which commands a premium price over other raisin bran cereals – about a $1.25 more per box. The cereal is better than any other raisin bran because the raisins are tender, plumped up and coated in a nut mixture, the bran flakes are slightly sweet but not frosted, and there are plenty of slivered almonds. It’s a great cereal that my entire family has loved since it came out in the 1980’s, and we gladly pay the premium price for really tasty cereal.

So let’s review what we know so far.

  • Raisin Nut Bran is a superior cereal which commands a premium price.
  • Raisin Nut Bran has a dynamic, unique logo which clearly identifies the product and jumps off of the box. It’s hard to miss it among all the other boxes of cereal.

So in redesigning the packaging and logo, General Mills (and specifically the brand manager responsible for this brand. Yes we can blame companies, but at the end of the day an individual makes a conscious decision and approves things like this) has:

  • Abandoned a unique logo for something generic. I’ve seen better logos on generic store brands.
  • Created packaging which does not clearly show the product. You cant make me hungry if you hide the cereal.
  • Removed the “Delicious, Soft Nut Covered Raisins” messaging that clearly differentiates the product. So if I don’t already love this cereal, how am I to know what makes it different than the store brand raisin bran, and why is it so expensive?
  • Introduced new packaging without any value add. Is the product “New and Improved!”? Have they added more of those delicious nut covered raisins to the mix? Is there 20% more in the new packaging? I guess that’s why there are no advertising dollars behind the new box – there’s nothing to say.
  • Made it harder to find. We literally were looking in the cereal aisle asking ourselves “Where the heck is the Raisin Nut Bran?”

So we will keep buying it because it tastes great, but even my kids said “ewewwww” when they saw the new box.

Proctor and Gamble did this to me a few years ago too – they thought that after many years of teaching me that Tide detergent comes in a red bottle, that they should change it to purple so it would look more like Downy fabric softener. Thanks a lot.   Maybe all these guys need to subscribe to Brand Packaging magazine…

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24 Responses to “Who Moved My Raisin Nut Bran?”

  1. Dave on November 22nd, 2008:

    I actually like the old box better.

  2. MrSarcastic on November 22nd, 2008:

    I gotta agree with Guru Rigotti here. The old brand had a look that distinguished it from the competition in the raisin and flake genre.

    This new box exudes “generic” in my eyes, which to the uninitiated would beg the question, “Why would I pay $1.25 more for a generic cereal?”

    And to agree with your point above, Stapper, you generally do a rebranding associated with “More nut-covered raisins” or “Now with whole grains” or “Now makes you more virile” (although I’m pretty sure Super Golden Crisp has cornered that market).

  3. Bryan Stapp on November 22nd, 2008:

    Thanks for the tip on the Super Golden Crisp…I need to pick some of that up today….

  4. Steiber on November 22nd, 2008:

    I agree with all your points regarding branding, Stapper, BUT, maybe we don’t know the whole nutty story here. How long have they had the old box design? How are their sales? Maybe they’ve seen steady sales decline and needed to refreash the brand. Personally, I think they could have done MUCH better on the new design but maybe they tested other options and this won. Or maybe this is a test market and they’re watching to see how this new package sells? Frankly, I doubt any of this is the case. I bet you’re correct and some brand manager wanted a “fun” project so she decided to redesign the box, but you never know.

  5. Bryan Stapp on November 22nd, 2008:

    You may be right, and it did cross my mind that I am reacting to a design decision without having the benefit of insight into the quantitative analysis (sales, market share, shelf space facings, etc). So maybe those numbers needed improvement, which led to the appointment of an internal study group. The Study group made a recommendation to the brand committee that a Blue Ribbon Panel be formed. The Blue Ribbon Panel met regularly for 16 months, and published a Memorandum of Findings. Those findings led to a recommendation for focus groups and a design/packaging review. After presenting design options to consumer focus group panels, the least offensive design was presented back to the brand committee (of which several members had died by this time in the process) and the new box was approved. Or perhaps there is a larger conspiracy at work here……

  6. Mark on November 22nd, 2008:

    Your description on the cereal makes me hungry.

  7. GRH on November 22nd, 2008:

    Raisin Nut Bran has its own Myspace page and a few blogs:
    myspace.com/raisin_nut_bran

  8. Bryan Stapp on November 22nd, 2008:

    Hi GRH – thanks for sharing that link to the Raisin Nut Bran site. Funny how it has the old box graphics for its wallpaper!

    BTW – check out the friend list – “Kaboom” and “Frankenberry” are on there. I wonder if someone has a page for “Quisp” and “Quake” too?

  9. Erica on November 22nd, 2008:

    at least you can still buy it! I can’t find it in our stores! it was my favorite cereal!

  10. Rose on November 22nd, 2008:

    I know.. I looked for 15 minutes trying to find this cereal.. saw the new packaging. and thought it was a generic brand .. until I saw GM logo.. why do companies change their packaging.. it sure makes it difficult to find your FAVORITE anything.. That. and also stores that QUIT carrying your favorite items..

  11. Where is the Tropicana Orange Juice? | Loud Amplifier Marketing on November 22nd, 2008:

    […] branding geniuses at Tropicana follow the lead of the hacks at General Mills who run branding for Raisin Nut Bran (read my thoughts here) by abandoning their distinctive logo and unique package design for a cold, […]

  12. Adrian on November 22nd, 2008:

    Every time I go to the grocery store i leave uncrossed off Raison Nut Bran. I finally had enough and looked online – what a find your site. (chuckle). I’ll look for the new age label tomorrow. thanks!

  13. Rena Cheskis-Gold on November 22nd, 2008:

    It may be a coincidence, but at least 2 major grocery stores on the east coast just stopped carrying Raisin Nut Bran this past week. Did the new box confuse the consumer and the product lose favor so very quickly?

  14. william hunt on November 22nd, 2008:

    Is it just me or do you not get enough raisins until about the third bowl. The raisins are the best part and I think they need to put more in or find a way to distribute them more evenly or how about another box with extra raisins.

  15. Eddie on November 22nd, 2008:

    They apparently went BACK to the OLD design!! Cause I in the store I saw all the boxes with the familiar logo again and it says (c) 2009 on them! General mills realized their stupid ways (They also changed honey nut clusters and basic 4 to this LAME design, hopefully those are back to the older ones as well!)

  16. Who Moved My Raisin Nut Bran? - Part Deux on November 22nd, 2008:

    […] of you agreed with me that the new packaging was boring, unappetizing, generic and just plain bad. (Original post here.) Original vs. […]

  17. Meme on November 22nd, 2008:

    I SENT MY HUSBAND TO THE GROCERY. Big Mistake!!!
    I had Raisin Nut Bran on the list, of course he comes home with a cereal that I do not like. He said they didn’t have Raisin Nut Bran. He had several ladies looking for it. I know it is there. They just didn’t see it. Now I am stuck with a box that I don’t like. Yuck!!!

  18. j on November 22nd, 2008:

    I just bought some and I see the “old” box.

  19. dissident on November 22nd, 2008:

    Raisin Bran Extra is better anyway.

  20. Derek on November 22nd, 2008:

    I loved raisin nut bran as a kid, but I haven’t had it for fifteen years because I sincerely thought it had been discontinued. I’ll have to take everyone’s word for it that it’s been with us all along. My point is, they changed the box, and I noticed it again. I believed that it had been taken out of retirement, but apparently I was just too stupid to notice it all these years. Maybe General Mills decided there were too many other stupid people in their twenties and wanted the demographic.

  21. Joy Maitland on November 22nd, 2008:

    I feel exactly the same way. I have Raisin Nut Bran for breakfast almost every day, so I’ll have to look for this new box. I worked in marketing for many years, and branding was always emphasized as very important. Ironically, the people who preached branding most loudly were always the ones messing with elements of our brand. I believe it was because they got bored after years of staring at and working with the same colors, fonts, and logo, but–grow up! A marketer’s personal boredom should never outweigh the value of the brand. I believe the same principle may be at work here. As a matter of fact, the new Raisin Nut Brand look is about as Playschool-kookie as some of the crap my former co-workers used to come up with.

  22. Holly on November 22nd, 2008:

    I LOVE this cereal…actually I love the raisins. I buy it and eat all the raisins out of the box…which really pisses off my family 🙁 I told my daughter all I want for Christmas is a pound of those raisins (she will have to pick them out for me). Does anyone know where I can purchase just the raisins? As for the box…ya, it looks really generic. I like the old one, plus if I hadn’t read this, I would not have noticed that other box and thought my store didn’t sell it anymore.

  23. Lalaland on November 22nd, 2008:

    I thought they discontinued the cereal! Although I dislike the new look, I am SUPER glad they are still making it and that I simply could not find it! Thanks!

  24. Bryan Stapp on November 22nd, 2008:

    They still make it, but Target just stopped carrying it (at least near where I live). 🙁

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