Cheerios, not Wheaties has the best Sales Value Proposition

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Fri, Mar 07, 2014

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, there was an interesting marketing article on Wheaties.   Most of us grew up with the marketing tag line of "The Breakfast of Champions" ringing in our head along with pictures of Michael Jordan, Dorothy Hamil, Michael Phelps and similar top level athletes featured in full color on the outside of the box.  Wheaties actually taste pretty good! The problem is that although they are an iconic 91 year old brand, they no longer sell very well. 

  • They've fallen to #17 in the ranking of cereal brands
  • They now have only 1% share of the market
  • They've lost their value proposition for the buyer, who is Mom

Cheerios, on the other hand...

  • is the dominant #1
  • has 12% market share
  • has created a powerful value proposition for Mom

While Wheaties is defined by its age and the pictures of 474 athletes over the years, there is no clear cut value proposition.  If my kid eats Wheaties will they go to the Olympics?  Will they grow up to be like Shaun White or Tiger Woods?  The messaging is as unsure as is the ability of the star athletes to maintain their healthy image.  Think about Pete Rose and OJ-both Wheaties cover holders, both convicted felons.


value proposition of cheerios

Cheerios on the other hand is all about being healthy.  
And when you bring "being healthy" down to its most specific answer in all of the questions of "So What?", the Cheerios Value Proposition blows away whatever it means to be "The Breakfast of Champions".  
Q: What's good about Cheerios?
A: It's healthy
Q: So What?
A: It has oats
Q: So What?
A: Oats lower cholesterol
Q: So What?
A: Lower cholesterol is good for your heart
Q: So What?
A: Eating Cheerios makes you to live longer
Ok, now I get !

Simply stated, Wheaties has (or had) a tag line. Cheerios has a value proposition.  Wheaties leaves Mom guessing.  Cheerios connects all the dots for Mom-no guessing.  The messaging is clear. There is a singular focus-live longer.  Every image, every color, every commercial and every YouTube reflects one simple thing: Eat Cheerios and live longer!  

And that's our job as sales and marketing people. Deliver a clear, simple message defining VALUE.  It's not that complicated to focus on a powerful message.  What is complicated is getting everyone in the sales and marketing ecosystem of most companies to deliver the same message time after time after time and never to go off track by trying to create their own messaging. The Cheerios team does it superbly by connecting all of the dots from Product Management to Marketing to Sales and finally to Merchandising.  Wheaties? Not so much.  Actually, not at all!

sales value propositions















Recent data from Sirius Decisions points out that most salespeople also fail at delivering effective value propositions.  Marketing people may deliver cute branding and effective lead gen tactics.  Salespeople certainly can talk about their product specs.(Think the ingrediants on the side of the cereal box).  But in our 25 years of consulting to hundreds of sales management teams, supported now by this data from Sirius, in general, salespeople suck at connecting the dots from company products and services to being able to translate effective value to the person on the other side of the table.   

So, as we wind down another busy week of near-Arctic conditions here in the Northeast, I would ask you to think about taking your sales and marketing teams on Monday morning to begin the journey to arrive at your perfect Value Proposition.  It's not easy, and it will take you some time to get there, but it is The #1 Most Effective Sales Tool you will ever use! Click HERE for a video presentation on what goes into creating the best Value Propositions.  

In the meantime, eat Cheerios.  It'll make you live longer!

 Jack Derby 

No better way to learn about how to create, train and deliver effective Value Propositions while improving your own sales management skills than from speakers such as Greg Flynn, the President of Brainshark , Mike Volpe, the SVP of Marketing from HubSpot and Zorian Rotenberg, VP of Sales & Marketing from Insight Squared who will be part of our upcoming Sales Management Boot Camp.  To learn more...

  1. Click on the icon below for an outline of what takes place.  
  2. You can also click HERE for a more detailed agenda
  3. Or just email me at, for a 10 minute call

Sales Management Boot Camp



Tags: sales productivity, Sales Best Practices, sales, sales enablement, sales effictiveness, sales boot camp