As a poor grad student, I tend to try to find the cheapest way to get what I want/need. When it comes to cereal, that means purchasing the store’s knock-off brand. While I was trying to figure out if the brand name Post Honey Bunches of Oats on sale was cheaper than A&P’s Krispy Honey-Oats and Flakes, I was struck by the incredible difference between their box fronts (and, consequently, their advertising strategies):

The clear difference between these two boxes is what they are trying to sell. Post is clearly counting on the fact that their customers know exactly what to expect from the brand alone. The words Honey Bunches of Oats and the honey wand/dipper are the most prominent elements of the box. Next, my eye naturally travels to the “Perfect Start Getaway Sweepstakes” advertised at the top. Because the clouds are blue, they pop out against the primarily orange features of the box. Also, the clouds and plane take up more real estate on the box than the cereal itself does. If you’re looking for a visual to show you what product you are about to buy, you are going to have to be content with a spoonful thrown into the corner. And if you want a description, you’ll have to squint to see the comparatively tiny print below the Honey Bunches of Oats logo. Post is clearly selling the brand, not the cereal.

America’s Choice, on the other hand, is all about the cereal. The most prominent element of this box is a nice big bowl of cereal.The square, white bowl gives me the impression of a modern, crisp, healthy cereal. America’s Choice is quite a bit more subtle in their promotion of the honey aspect of the cereal. The word “honey” appears second in the cereal name, and the background of the box shows a faint outline of a honeycomb. Within the honeycombs we also see a wheat image. The description of the cereal is much larger than on Post’s box, which demonstrates America’s Choice’s reliance more on customer’s knowledge of this kind of cereal than the brand itself.

I should have taken a picture of the whole shelf of Honey Bunches of Oats products, because you would be able to see America’s Choice’s most important advertising trick: their proximity to the real thing. You can see a bit of a Honey Bunches of Oats box in the America’s Choice picture. America’s Choice has multiple flavors of their Krispy Oats, all nestled snuggly among Post’s much more expensive brand-name cereals. If you want the same cereal at a cheaper price, the A&P has made it pretty easy for you.

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This entry was written by Emily and published on March 22, 2012 at 11:52 pm. It’s filed under Cereal Boxes, Semiotics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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