WHEAT, BARLEY, AND NUCLEAR FUSION: The WSJ explores the psychographics of Grape Nuts devotees, a waning group:
Since people haven't been eating nearly as much of it as they used to, the latest Grape Nuts ad campaign, running now on MSN's Web site, is trying a new tonic: It consists of skits in which male milquetoasts get droll advice on "looking cool while driving a minivan," or "letting your in-laws move into your house." The slogan -- "That takes Grape Nuts" -- implies that the stuff enhances virility. C.W Post might have written it himself...
"We need to bring it back to life in a relevant way," says Kelley Peters, the "insights" director who charts Grape Nuts psychographics for Ralcorp's $5 million resuscitation attempt. Her target: men 45 years old and up. "Men aspire to it," she says. "It's strong and stern, the father figure of cereals." Her marketing chief, Jennifer Marchant, points out: "It tends to break your teeth sometimes."
True, but Grape Nuts loyalists don't all welcome the focus on maleness. Sylvie Dale, 38, an editor in New Jersey, and a woman, says: "The rhythmic crunching that reverberates around your skull could be ambient sound meditation. To have the patience to get through a bowl, you have to practice mindfulness." Ms. Dale adds: "I have a special place in my heart for this cereal."
David Smith does, too, though he says, "I don't want Grape Nuts and testosterone in the same sentence, ever." As a teenager, he biked cross-country, eating the stuff out of a saddle bag. At 52, he sells flooring an hour's drive from Battle Creek. His devotion to Grape Nuts remains constant. "It's a cereal that doesn't require much from me," he says. "I guess it isn't a real relationship."