Lucky Charms eyes millennials with a new lens

Cereal brand harnesses the power of nostalgia and social media for a St. Patrick’s Day promotion


Lucky Charms: They’re nostalgically delicious.

As part of ongoing efforts to connect with millennial consumers nostalgic for the breakfast cereal of their youth, the General Mills Canada brand has partnered with Snapchat on a St. Patrick’s Day promotion.

The promotion features a Lucky Charms-branded Snapchat lens that transforms users into the cereal brand’s iconic Lucky Leprechaun mascot. Users are invited to capture their image and send it out to their social media channels using the hashtag #MagicallyDelicious.

Snapchat boasts more than 100 million daily active users, nearly three quarters of them under 34. The company is also sending personalized boxes of Lucky Charms to 12 key influencers across the country, inviting them to use the Snapchat feature and promote it to their followers.

“We feel it’s going to get us a ton of impressions based on how popular Snapchat is with millennials, says Andrew Rapsey, marketing director, cereal for General Mills in Toronto. “We’re hoping to generate over 5 million impressions for a one-day execution.”

Rapsey says the time between when young adults graduate university and settle down to start a family is a “soft spot” for the cereal industry that General Mills hopes to exploit. “By being a relevant brand they can relate to, we hope to get a lot more millennials buying and eating cereal,” he says.

While acknowledging millennials tend to associate St. Patrick’s Day with alcohol more than breakfast cereal, Rapsey says Lucky Charms, by virtue of its Irish association, has a long history of activating against the holiday in North America – including introducing green packaging and extra four-leaf clovers in the cereal’s marshmallow shapes.

While Lucky Charms’ core target remains households with kids under 18, Rapsey says the company realized several years ago that people under 35 made up about 20% of its customers. “As we were thinking about driving growth on this brand, we thought ‘Why don’t we go after these consumers we’ve never talked to before?’” says Rapsey.

The brand’s initial efforts to reach millennial audiences saw it adapt U.S. advertising featuring an adult consumer as opposed to kids, which produced what Rapsey describes as “a nice bump” in market penetration.

“We were obviously very encouraged by those results, so we decided to get a little bit more serious about our millennial marketing, so we got to know these consumers more,” says Rapsey.

Lucky Charms has subsequently made millennials a key focus of its marketing efforts. In October, for example, the brand partnered with Vice Media’s food-related channel Munchies in an effort to build credibility with younger audiences.

A 10-minute video starring extravagantly tattooed Toronto chef Matty Matheson saw him using Lucky Charms to create a “Mega Cake.” The video generated close to two million views and seven million impressions.

The efforts to engage millennials is paying off. Rapsey says the brand has increased its household penetration in Canada by 3% over the past four years, including 10% growth in under-35 households.

According to figures provided by Euromonitor International, Lucky Charms controls an approximately 3.1% share of Canada’s US$855.6 million ready-to-eat cereal market, ranking 10th in the category.