Kellogg’s is a purpose-driven organization, with a core vision of “Nourishing families so they can flourish and thrive.” The growth of snacking in emerging markets represents a key opportunity to continue living out this purpose through introducing healthy, wholesome snacks that deliver on the promise of delivering sustained energy throughout the day.
A vision for understanding culture
Snacking is big business, with 2017 category growth estimated at $3.4 billion globally (according to Nielsen estimates). Much of this growth is strongest in emerging markets, where consumers with even slightly positive income earnings are willing to spend in this non-essential category. With an eye towards building out a snacking innovation pipeline, Kellogg’s asked Maru/Matchbox to help uncover snacking needs, attitudes, and behaviors of emerging middle class consumers in developing markets.
Kellogg’s and Maru/Matchbox share a common belief that cultural values and cultural norms play a significant role in affecting consumer behaviors. We also believe that insights initiatives that don’t intentionally account for culture risk giving us an incomplete or incorrect understanding of consumer dynamics. Without accounting for cultural forces, we are at risk of having a detrimental effect on business decisions, marketing programs, and R&D programs. We also risk having a harmful effect on the very consumers we hope to reach with our products.
Cultural influences on snacking
A multi-step insights program was designed which included such activities as semiotic decoding of the snacking category, a cultural analysis of snacking attitudes, expectations, and occasions, and qualitative research to bring snacking to life for this crucial segment. Each phase of work was designed to uncover the cultural variables at play in snacking. By contextualizing qualitative results within a cultural framework, we were able to better understand the deeper meaning of snacks, the culturally-determined historical precedents that set expectations of the experience, and the common cues that must be present to deliver on expectations.
This research had a profound impact on the ways that the Kellogg’s innovation and insights teams approached subsequent ideation and co-creation phases. Fundamentally, the cultural understanding changed the language, the frame of reference for the product, and considerations for go-to-market strategies.
- Cultural Framing caused Kellogg’s to shift priorities of consideration for product development. Prior to research, the starting point for discussion was price point, followed by package size that could be delivered for that price. Recognizing the importance of demonstrating abundance in these markets, the new starting point became package size.
- The research introduced new key words into Kellogg’s lexicon as they began ideation and co-creation. Prior to research, the focus was on “satiation” and “healthy snacking.” After better understanding cultural values, the team began focusing more specifically on words like “generous” and “abundance” as guiding principles for the new product.
- Cultural Framing also introduced the crucial importance of culturally-appropriate ways of visually demonstrating these concepts. Research clearly demonstrated the need to communicate abundance at shelf. Kellogg’s began thinking of ways to create color blocks and to leverage established semiotic codes to demonstrate abundance through package design.
Cultural Framing has been a helpful way to complement traditional research and deepen our understanding the reasons behind the consumer behavior, attitudes, and beliefs so evident through research. By virtue of this approach, Kellogg’s made valuable shifts in process and perspective that helped create a more targeted, grounded product development process.
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