Case | HBS Case Collection | December 2005 (Revised April 2011)

C.W. Post

by Nitin Nohria, Anthony Mayo and Mark Benson

Abstract

In 1906, C.W. Post had to move his latest breakfast product--corn flakes--from store shelves into cereal bowls nationwide. Post genuinely believed his corn flakes and other breakfast foods would make people well. Through sampling and other innovative sales and marketing techniques, Post convinced consumers and grocers to buy Postum and Grape-Nuts--which generated millions in profits for the Postum Cereal Co. But not Elijah's Manna--the brand name that Post put on his corn flakes boxes when his company introduced the product in 1904. Two years later, it was clearly not selling. To make matters worse, other cereal companies in the burgeoning Battle Creek area where Post's foods were manufactured were cornering the market, in particular, Kelloggs. How was Post going to convince consumers that his corn flakes were better than the rest?

Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Innovation and Invention; Brands and Branding; Product Marketing; Sales; Food and Beverage Industry; Battle Creek;

Citation:

Nohria, Nitin, Anthony Mayo, and Mark Benson. "C.W. Post." Harvard Business School Case 406-063, December 2005. (Revised April 2011.)