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2012 Power 50: No. 36 John Bryant

Faced with challenges in the U.S. and Europe and growth in Latin America, Kellogg Co. is relying on innovation and new product launches to continue its gradual growth and restore its global business.

“We’ve ramped up our innovation plans — paying attention to what consumers say they want — resulting in more than three dozen new products in the U.S. alone this year,” said John Bryant, president and chief executive officer of the Battle Creek, Mich., manufacturer.

Last year, Bryant wanted Kellogg’s to reach $800 million in new product sales, a number met in part to the introduction of gluten-free Rice Krispies. This year, Bryant expects a moderate 2% to 3% growth in sales. Sales expectations were lowered after an underperforming first quarter due to tough economic conditions in the U.S. and Europe.

Europe, Kellogg’s hardest hit region in terms of sales, will see many new products. “We’re confident that we can get our business back on track in this region. And we continue investing in our brands,” Bryant said. Launches include All-Bran Golden Crunch, Special K cereals and Nutri-Grain Breakfast Biscuits.

Emerging markets offer the most room for Kellogg’s growth. Though the seller of the top cereal in Mexico, Zucaritas, Bryant isn’t satisfied with No. 1 and is expanding cereal sales with All-Bran and new Special K varieties.

“We’ve already seen great growth in places like India, South Africa and Brazil by focusing on meeting consumer needs,” Bryant said. “In India, for example, all our cereals for the family are fortified with iron to meet nutritional needs for consumers in that country.”

This year, Kellogg purchased Pringles from Procter & Gamble, a sale that included four manufacturing sites. Although Bryant couldn’t comment on the company’s plans for Pringles, the chips would bring Kellogg’s snack division to almost the size of its cereal business. “It will also expand our global footprint — nearly tripling the size of our international snacks business.”

And in a February statement to investors, Bryant said, “Savory snacks such as Pringles are relatively easy to tailor to the tastes of individual regions, and the brand has had success with this in the past. Again, though, we think there’s more that can be done in this area, and we’re excited by the possibilities.”

For all brands Bryant is looking to connect with the consumer through more digital and social marketing, from formatting sites for mobile platforms to creating apps like the one for Special K, which lets users create menus and shopping lists.

“Engaging our customers — whether it’s through our websites, social sites, smartphones or other channels — will continue to be a key part of our brand-building efforts.”

Whether by new brands or new digital marketing strategies, Bryant is growing Kellogg through global innovation. 

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