Behind the Surge in Lucky Charms Sales? Grownups

Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg

General Mills has found success with its breakfast products for adults, particularly grownup-worthy foods such as Yoplait Greek 100-calorie yogurt and Nature Valley Protein Bars, both among the company’s fastest-growing sellers over the last year. Another breakfast product that adults are eating with fervor: Lucky Charms. Earlier this week, General Mills said the colorful, marshmallow-heavy cereal has been one of the strongest contributors to U.S. sales growth.

It’s not easy to spur interest in a brand that dates back to 1964. But Maerenn Jepsen, a spokeswoman for General Mills, pointed to the success of an advertising and marketing campaign for Lucky Charms that targets adults. The campaign began in January, she said in an e-mail, and baseline sales for Lucky Charms “were up double digits through the remainder of the fiscal year.” The company claims more than 40 percent of Lucky Charms eaters are adults. IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm, estimates that Lucky Charms sales this year are up 14.5 percent to $145.9 million so far. By contrast, the company’s overall U.S. sales were up just 2 percent in the latest quarter and 1 percent in fiscal 2013.

“We know that adults have always loved Lucky Charms and by reconnecting them with the brand, we have reignited their love of one of their favorite things from childhood,” says Carla Vernon, General Mills’ marketing director for Lucky Charms. To make the most of this enthusiasm, General Mills is promoting lesser-known chocolate Lucky Charms, which first debuted in 2005, and will add three new rainbow marshmallows for a limited time to its already dizzying signature array: “Hearts, Stars, and Horseshoes. Clovers and Blue Moons. Hourglasses, Rainbows, and Tasty Red Balloons.”

Lucky Charms is now the 10th-best-selling cereal brand in the U.S., according to Euromonitor data. Here’s the full list:

10 Best Selling Cereals In The U.S.
1. Cheerios (General Mills)
2. Post (Ralcorp Holdings)
3. Kellogg’s Special K (Kellogg)
4. Kashi (Kellogg)
5. Quaker Instant Oatmeal (PepsiCo)
6. Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes (Kellogg)
7. Cinnamon Toast Crunch (General Mills)
8. Quaker Oats (PepsiCo)
9. Kellogg’s Mini Wheats (Kellogg)
10. Lucky Charms (General Mills)

Source: Euromonitor