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Kellogg Testing The Brand Barriers for Special K

Posted by: David Kiley on November 7, 2006


Kellogg has enjoyed nice success expanding the Special K brand. Among other things, its become almost a default product to buy for baby boomers when they get a bad cholesterol report from the doctor.

But as the food company readies a rollout of breakfast bars (good idea), and protein water (call the brand police), I think Kellogg will run up against what every ambitious consumer marketer eventually faces: a case of brand extension greed.

I’ve seen this movie before. Starbuck’s Jo magazine and CD burning stations, the $90,000 Volkswagen Phaeton, Everlast cologne, Coke Blak, Dell consumer electronics.

I can’t know that Special K water will flop. I haven’t even seen the advertising yet. And there have been some brand extensions, whose failure I would have bet the mortgage would fail, that have succeeded. Did anyone predict the success of Dannon bottled water?

But there is a mystique around vitamin and fortified water. And the big red Special K logo doesn’t quite cut it in my boomer circles. Now, if Kellogg undercuts the price of the hipper more happenin brands and products in this segment, they might just get somewhere. I can only imagine the mark-up on “vitamin” or “protein” water.

Good luck Kellogg’s. I think you’ll need it.

Reader Comments

David Taylor (from Where'sTheSausage)

November 8, 2006 6:23 AM

David, Think you are spot on here. This is what I call "brand ego tripping" in my book, "Brand Stretch: Why 1 in 2 extensions fail and how to beat the odds". Brand ego trips are when brands forget what made them famous, and where they have real competence, and stretch into markets where they have no added value. Why would you switch from a trusted water brand to this?

Breakfast bars are smart, and a huge market here in Europe. And Special K has worked well: balancing taste with "permissibility". But I agree with you on Special K water: it will end up in the over-crowded extension graveyard where it belongs!

BTW. Danon water worked mainly, I think, becuase of Danone's distribution power, leveraging links with its other water brands like Evian and Volvic?


November 19, 2006 2:27 PM

When I saw that Special K had a protein water in a sales paper I honestly was intrigued. I cant find any information on nutrition though, not even on the Special K site. I think it will work out for them hopefully it tastes good and isnt filled with sugar.


December 30, 2006 8:57 AM

Kellogg's has great products, I seen the K2O in my local supermarket and thought wow let me try this as I pretty much only drink water. It was packaged with four 16 ounce bottles of their new Special K2O Protein Water..Then I seen the price $5.99 for four bottles, I said ok I will try anything once, I have to say it has a great taste, but it is way over priced, unless the price drops I will not buy it again. They should make it a six pack for the same price, then I would probaly buy it again.

Laurel Stark

January 7, 2007 6:10 PM

As an MFA student in advertising, this brand extension amused me...but none-the-less, I gave it a shot (thanks in part to the 10/$10 deal at Safeway and my New Years resolution to work out more and eat healthier).

Shocker: this product actually tastes good...all three flavors, amazingly, and I'm actually enjoying it. With all the tasty flavors, it's a nice way to encourage getting the reccommended 8-10 8 oz servings of water a day, and the protein is a nice boost after workouts and a decent "filler" before meals. At 50 calories a bottle (yes, a serving size is the whole 16oz, not 8 like other bottled beverages), its a lighter alternative to juices and comperable to the Vitamin Water that Glaceau has out right now.

Regardless of the fact that I like it, I am kinda doubtful that this product will be a huge hit. The truth is, Special K really is a boomer brand, and it is the younger generation who is really into the flavored/vitamin-enriched waters. It seems to be a good product, but using a brand that doesn't appeal to the market that would actually be interested in this product doesn't speak well for this extension.

Wendy Hendrickson

August 21, 2007 4:00 PM

I am a Registered Nurse, have extensive knowledge of nutrition and wrote a published essay on dieting. Did I mention that I am fat? As a fad diet enthusiast, of course I tried H2O water and guess what, I like it. It tastes good, staves off my 10am, 2pm and 4pm hunger panges and has kept me on a sensible eating program for 30 days (a miracle).

Shower Water Filter

September 29, 2007 5:39 PM

It is great to see the Special K brand expanding, I just hope their new drinks are not too expensive, because I love their cereals, and I know it is a very healthy brand.


October 9, 2007 9:38 PM

When my friend came up from Georgia and had to get her Kellogg Protein water it was very hard to find and since im a water drinker and now i also love the taste of the k2o water BUT like i said its hard to find and the one store close by that has it charges $1.99 for a 16fl. oz (ouch)


December 26, 2007 6:48 PM

I always laugh (or cringe) when brand extension goes too far. sometimes they come out with new products particularly in supermarkets that are just puzzling. this almost reaches that level. I always wonder when new, untested ideas like this come out "what proven product did they take off the shelf to make room for THAT?!". it also seems quite expensive to me and the packaging is bad, it looks like one of those 8oz or 16oz "milk jugs". personally I never would even buy vitamin water, let alone any product that looked like that (it's water, why hide it with a huge gaudy label?) or is so overpriced. for shame, I'm surprised it's still around but with a marketing budget of these huge like Kellogg's, Coke, and Pepsi, maybe not that surprised.


March 15, 2008 2:13 PM

The bottles are too expensive--have you tried the powder? I love the powder, and I stretch it to at least 32 oz. Unfortunately, stores are discontinuing it--it's getting harder and harder to find. Walmart recently had it marked down to 20 cents a box, but the shelves were bare when I found the discontinued price. Publix still carries it, for now, anyway.

kathy greth

July 20, 2008 7:52 PM

l like the bottle water but can only find it in walmart and only sometimes.where else can we buy it?


February 14, 2009 1:55 AM

I like the water were can i buy it in a case? I tried casco & sam's club no luck. Help!

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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