The nutraceutical market is full of potential, yet it is mostly unrealized so far. Specifically targeting distinct groups of aware consumers remains key. General Mills' latest launch is an attempt to crack this tough market by targeting women. However, it is far from certain that Harmony will make the grade as a successful 'food-plus' product.
Successful nutraceutical products must provide specific benefits to specific groups, rather than being all things to all people. Harmony has been specifically formulated with women's unique dietary concerns in mind, by offering calcium, anti-oxidants, iron and folic acid - important nutrients for women, but typically lacking in the modern diet.
But are women sufficiently concerned about their diet? Certainly, nutritional deficiencies in women's diets have received media attention, but it is by no means clear that many women are highly concerned enough to replace their normal breakfast with this particular variety. It is just as easy to supplement with multi-vitamin/mineral tablets that are non-intrusive to the daily diet.
'Food-plus' products such as Harmony that replace part of the diet need to be able to compete not only with other nutraceuticals but also with what they are replacing - in this case, other breakfast cereals. Unlike Novartis, whose Aviva range has experienced difficulties including withdrawal from the UK, General Mills has the brand name and the experience to compete in the cutthroat breakfast category. Yet even if Harmony is available in countless varieties, to obtain the necessary benefits of the cereal you have to stick with it, which means sacrificing the freedom to choose your daily breakfast.
A more significant issue is whether Harmony is necessarily differentiated from all the other fortified cereals on the market. Although apparently tailored to women, the composition of added nutrients is not that different to what is found in almost any cereal. Even Cheerios and Frosties claim to provide a whole spectrum of nutritional goodies, yet these are successful breakfast products rather than successful nutraceuticals. It has become the industry standard to fortify your morning flakes. Harmony will only reap the potential rewards of cracking the nutraceutical market if it can justify its existence as an innovative product. The proof of this breakfast will definitely be in the eating.