ADDING ZIP TO STOP A DIP

While the ready-to-eat cereal category is huge -- at $7.5 billion, according to one industry spokeswoman -- the big cereal makers have seen slight dips in sales from year to year. Not surprisingly, they are using a number of new marketing strategies to promote cereal, including capitalizing on the health benefits of both old and new products. arlier this year we fortified 44% of our cereal line with

While the ready-to-eat cereal category is huge -- at $7.5 billion, according to one industry spokeswoman -- the big cereal makers have seen slight dips in sales from year to year. Not surprisingly, they are using a number of new marketing strategies to promote cereal, including capitalizing on the health benefits of both old and new products.

arlier this year we fortified 44% of our cereal line with calcium, and now it's up to 50%."

Kellogg, Battle Creek, Mich., also seems to be promoting the health message, although Meghan Parkhurst, senior manager for communications, would not confirm that it's a strategy. "Kellogg's, within the last year-and-a-half, has fortified its kids' cereals with vitamins and minerals and is introducing a whole-grain cereal," she said.

Some new Kellogg's products include Raisin Bran Crunch and Kellogg's Special K Plus, with 60% of the daily value for calcium, packaged in a carton that resembles a half-gallon of milk.

Meanwhile, Post Cereal Co., Rye Brook, N.Y., has introduced a line extension to Grape Nuts, called Grape Nuts O's, and is using a new branding strategy for its kids' cereals. The company has introduced Post Kids! as a new marketing platform for its sweetened, flavored cereals.

Oreo O's is doing very well for Post, according to spokeswoman Pat Riso, as are some of the more recent additions to the cereal line, like Cranberry Almond Crunch and Honey Nut Shredded Wheat.

According to scan data from ACNielsen, Schaumburg, Ill., dollar sales for RTE cereal in the food channel for the 52-week period ended Aug. 7, 1999 were $7.2 billion, down only 0.6% from last year. Nonetheless, dollar figures have been declining over the last four years. Unit sales were also down, 0.7%, at 2.6 billion.