This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

May 30, 2001

Have It Your Way for Breakfast

Late last year, we received an intriguing offer in the mail from General Mills, the food manufacturer. The postcard invited us to customize a breakfast cereal to our chosen taste and nutrition, providing a week's worth of free samples to try. When we went to the website,, we discovered that it was not quite as free form as advertised. You could make some decisions about what would be in the cereal, but you had to start with certain basic combinations.

After going for the highest protein and the lowest fat content, we ordered an interesting mixture of oat and soy rings, honey roasted soy nuts, sliced almonds and bits of freeze-dried strawberries. When eaten with skim milk, it delivered a nutritious, low-calorie, and tasty breakfast for about 89 cents per serving, plus the cost of the milk.

Now, we receive periodic advertising messages by e-mail from General Mills - too frequent for our taste. The most recent focuses on their auto-reorder system. Like newspaper delivery in the United States, you can now arrange for your favorite cereal concoction to be delivered to your doorstep on a periodic basis. . . so you will virtually never run out.

The General Mills service is designed to make customized cereals for individual consumers with over 1,000,000 possible combinations, versus the 250-plus varieties currently available in grocery stores. The products arrive in single-serve pouches, with a personalized nutrition profile developed by licensed nutritionists for each mixture.

We expect this concept of customizing to taste to catch on and be duplicated by other food and soft drink companies. The idea of customizing beer, wine, coffee, or cola to your taste is one that we expect to see very soon. Of course, you will have to buy in quantity, but to get exactly what you want, it will be worth it. High maintenance people: our time has arrived!

And food is only one category. Watch for made-to-measure clothing, besides Levis jeans to be here soon, too. The age of customization is here . . . for anyone who is willing to pay the extra cost.

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