Urban, young office workers in Asia could energize cereal bar category

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

Asia is brimming with promise for cereal bars but markets are very different. Soy Joy is China's leading brand, for example but in Japan and South Korea the leading cereal bars are classic muesli and granola bars
Asia is brimming with promise for cereal bars but markets are very different. Soy Joy is China's leading brand, for example but in Japan and South Korea the leading cereal bars are classic muesli and granola bars

Related tags: Asia, India

The cereal bar category in Asia is on the cusp of a boom with young urbanites a ripe target, particularly in India, says an analyst.

In India, cereal bars is the fastest growing category within the entire bakery and snacks market, Canadean data shows, and in Japan it’s the second fastest growing segment.

“They are two very different markets, but cereal bars are coming out on top,”​ said Ronan Stafford, research analyst at Canadean.

“There’s a very strong demand for convenience from an increasingly urbanized consumer. In places like India, urban consumers represent around 90% of cereal bar consumption,” ​he told BakeryandSnacks.com.

Within Asia, India is a particular promising target market for cereal bar makers given the pace of growth in the category, speed of urbanization and rapidly growing modern retail sector, he said.

The pan-Asian urbanite boom

“For markets like India and China, it’s very well documented that there’s a shift from rural to urban. There are a very, very high number of urban consumers that are just ripe to target by cereal bar companies,”​ Stafford said.

In 2000, China’s urban population represented 35% of the country’s total population but this is set to soar to 53% by 2020, Canadean research indicates. But opportunities do exist beyond these two countries, he added.

Japan and Korea are also set to add four million urban consumers to their market in each country by 2020, he said.

“There are a lot of consumers who are looking to graze on something in the office – as a mid-morning or afternoon snack, or as an energy pick-up. It’s a very flexible category.”

Capturing the target

Asia cannot be considered one market, Stafford said, as taste preferences and consumption drivers differ from country to country. For example, in China the leading cereal bar brand is Soy Joy – made from soy beans – but in Japan and South Korea the leading cereal bars are classic granola and muesli bars, he said.

However, he added that while cuisine from one country to the next can be very different, the eating occasions are not.

“The office worker is going to look for a snack, and a healthy snack at that. Cereal bars are perfectly matched to target on the go, quick, office snacking and there are global opportunities.”

To best do this, he said companies need to be “on the ground”​ in each market, to really work out what the taste preferences are and what product positioning will attract consumers.

“It’s very useful to take an individual approach. From a marketing point of view, in China there is a strong history of food scares, so you may want to play up the safety or quality of the product and specify that it is not made in China. In India, there is a very young population, so you could position it as a good snack for kids or young office workers,”​ he said.

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