Wafer bars get a Nature Valley makeover
What happens when Nature Valley decides to reimagine the traditional wafer bar?
You get the new Crispy Creamy Wafer Bar, which comes in two flavors: peanut butter and peanut butter chocolate.
It’s one of the newest innovations from Nature Valley, which we included in our recent round-up of our new products for 2019.
The big idea
The insight that sparked this idea – a Nature Valley twist on a wafer bar – started by looking at white space in the bars category. According to Carly Anderson, marketing manager for Nature Valley, the category seemed to lack in products that had both real food and sweet indulgence. And the traditional wafer had never really been a part of the grain aisle before.
“The brand over time has stood for food for the whole family, and an affordable price point with amazing taste, and something that you feel good about,” says Anderson. “So we really feel like this is the brand to unlock these new ideas and bring things forward as the bars leader of the category.”
They learned early on that consumers loved the crispiness of wafers and the sense of nostalgia they invoked, but that the current products on shelves fell short in a few ways. The bars fully covered in chocolate were too high in sugar and lacked health credentials, and the layered sandwich wafers were lacking the taste appeal that consumers were looking for.
Finding the right blend of taste and health – that would be key.
From idea to launch
Once the team landed on a direction, figuring out how to bring the concept to reality wasn’t easy.
The technical team for Nature Valley didn’t have previous experience in wafer bars. And General Mills didn’t have existing technology for wafers, so they really had to start from the ground up.
Danielle Waite, a recipe developer in our Snacks Operating Unit, says they had to start by building foundational knowledge, and then actually push that technology beyond what had been done before.
“To really make a Nature Valley wafer bar, we had to change what a wafer bar is,” says Waite.
And another critical piece to get right – according to consumers – was that creamy peanut butter.
“A lot of peanut butter executions in the marketplace fall short, they’re too dry and pasty. We heard from consumers that we had to hit the right balance of creamy peanut butter and crispy wafers,” added Waite.
Karmin Bryant, an engineer who worked on the wafer bars, is proud of how the finished product came together.
“My family, my friends, they love Nature Valley. And bringing a product to them and to our consumers that provides this crispy, creamy, delicious experience makes me very proud,” says Bryant.
Consumers have reacted positively to the wafer bars, and the Nature Valley team is encouraged by the results so far.
“As the leader of the bars category, Nature Valley continues to keep pace and push forward doing new consumer jobs and meeting new consumer needs,” says Anderson. “It was about bringing that differentiated texture to the aisle in a way that only our brand could do it, with the intersection of all-family appeal, affordability, amazing taste and something consumers feel good about. This is just another step in our journey.”
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