Ain’t That Sweet: Kids, Millennials, and Gen Z Consumers Favor Cereal With More Sugar

Ain’t That Sweet: Kids, Millennials, and Gen Z Consumers Favor Cereal With More Sugar

Many of the largest food categories are treats that people want to indulge in. Sweetness is expected and the sweeter the better, especially for kids and younger consumers under age 40, notes Packaged Facts in the report U.S. Food Market Outlook 2020: Home Cooking, Grocery Shopping, & Food Trends in the Age of Coronavirus.

Food indulgence and decadence are desired by many Americans, and despite health concerns, some don’t care if they come from sugar. This has been especially evident during recent unsettling global events. Due to the impact of the coronavirus, as consumers stockpiled food to feed people stuck at home, many turned to familiar—and often sweet—comforting foods that brought joy and pleasure.

Cereal was among the favored sugary comforts for many Americans while quarantined. In recent months, media outlets including USA Today, CNN, and  The Miami Herald, closely documented America’s rising cereal consumption during the pandemic. But make no mistake, cereal remains popular even in less stressful times.

For example, households with kids consistently remain more likely than average to use cold cereal. This provides the impetus for industry players to continue developing new products that have strong kid-appeal despite criticism for marketing sugary cereals to kids. In the last couple of years, sugary kids cereals have come to market including Lucky Charms with unicorn marshmallows and Kellogg’s Unicorn with a “magic cupcake” flavor.

Sugary cereals don’t just appeal to young kids. They appeal to Gen Z and Millennial consumers who eat them frequently for snacks, dinner, and dessert. Most young folks snacking on cereal aren’t looking for health and nutrition. Mainly, they want a cereal that is sweet. For some, cereal is like candy, a treat you don’t feel guilty about since you’re eating other healthy foods. Marketers have been delivering to them as well with:

  • Kellogg’s Chocolate Frosted Flakes and Kellogg’s Donut Shop
  • Cookie-inspired cereals flavored with Oreo, Nutter Butter, and Chips Ahoy from Post
  • Cereals, also from Post, based on Hostess’ sweet snacks—Donettes, Honey Bunt, and Twinkies
  • General Mills’ Hershey's Kisses and REESE’S Puffs Big Puffs cereals