Sexcereal: In the mood for breakfast?
October 17, 2013 | Alicia Androich | Comments
The female formula of a cereal created to boost libido outsells the male version
Peter Ehrlich touts Sexcereal as “the first gender-based breakfast cereal ever invented.” When he came up with the idea for the product, Ehrlich says he knew it had to have different ingredients for women and men. “If it was one formula, they would say it’s bullshit because if men and women are biologically different, how can you create something for sexual health in one cereal?” he says.
The ingredients in the male version of Sexcereal fuel testosterone support, while those in the cereal for women are geared towards estrogen and hormonal balance. While he won’t share sales figures for Sexcereal – which sells in roughly 600 health food stores as well as in larger chains such as Sobeys, Safeway and Whole Foods in the Greater Toronto Area – he confirms the female cereal outsells the male cereal 52% to 48%. Those results surprised him. “When it comes to muscle powders, weightlifting or testosterone support, men buy that stuff in flocks,” he says. “Now we know women care about their sexual health.”
Ehrlich believes that in addition to buying the product for themselves, a portion of heterosexual female purchasers are picking it up for their partners. He says 70% of shoppers in grocery and health food stores are women, and they “know they’ll make their husband or boyfriend smile or laugh with the male cereal.”
On the flip side, he’s noticed that occasionally men who buy the cereal online will only purchase the female-targeted kind. “I guess they’re counting on the Viagra [for themselves],” he says. But mostly, men buy the cereal for men online and women buy the cereal geared towards women.
Ehrlich got praise from often-critical Kevin O’Leary when he pitched Sexcereal on Dragons’ Den for creating two distinct formulas under one brand. It’s a unique approach compared to the hundreds of other cereals pitched on the show, said O’Leary. “The two SKUs in is brilliant because you’re forcing the retailer to take two SKUs as opposed to one,” he said.
Ehrlich was also mindful of ensuring his cereal wasn’t yet another earnest health food offering. The inspiration for Sexcereal struck him a couple of years ago when he spotted a gluten-free product called Girlnola with pink packaging. It was the first time he had seen femininity and sensuality attached to health food.
Ehrlich thought Girlnola’s founder had a great brand, but said to himself, ‘She’s only missing one thing: If you can connect the ingredients to what being a woman is in terms of her health, then you’ve got something—right now it’s just pink packaging.”
The idea for Sexcereal hit him on the spot like “a Star Trek laser:” take something people eat consistently and make it for sexual health. “That’s new and different,” he says. And rather than go the predictable pink-equals-women packaging route or simply incorporate a male or female gender symbol on the bags, he used images of people. “It’s always a human being that sells a human being—not a logo,” he says.
And while Ehrlich doesn’t feel the models – a Marilyn Monroe look-a-like and a buff dude in a white T-shirt – are overtly sexual, they certainly hold some sex appeal.
The male model’s biceps resemble those of a Harlequin cover model and the spoon in his hand is, umm, standing at attention. “I felt that holding the spoon down was the wrong message,” he says.
Who is Ehrlich trying to attract with his message? Folks that have started to get a sense of their own mortality and pay attention to their sexual wellbeing. “You don’t care about your sexual health up to the age of 35; you know you’re healthy sexually,” he says.
After that, though, people start to think of ways to keep themselves in good shape, from working out to eating foods that help fuel their bodies in every way. Sexcereal’s target is the 33 to 55-year-old set, says Ehrlich.
While he hasn’t launched an official marketing campaign around the product yet, mentions on shows like Late Show with David Letterman, Good Morning America and Conan have definitely helped raise awareness. Then there was the entire segment Live with Kelly and Michael did on Sexcereal in March: the hosts spent roughly seven minutes eating, then feeling the exaggerated effects of the cereal. At one point, Ripa jokingly referred to it as “Pornios” and said of the packaging “You can tell it works because look at his great big spoon.”
This story originally appeared in Marketing‘s Oct. 21 Gender Issue, on newsstands now.