BOSTON — It has been less than a year since Kellogg Co. acquired Chicago Bar Co., L.L.C., maker of RXBAR clean label protein bars, for $600 million. But during that time, the company has generated strong sales and given Kellogg insight into how to be successful while working quickly.
In a Sept. 5 presentation at the Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference in Boston, Steven A. Cahillane, president and chief executive officer of Kellogg, professed his belief that RXBAR is more likely to change Kellogg’s way of thinking than Kellogg is to change RXBAR’s.
Not only does RXBAR innovate, but they do so “quickly” and “smartly” and “with the consumer at the focus of everything,” Mr. Cahillane said in response to an analyst’s question about what the Battle Creek, Mich.-based company gets out of its ownership of RXBAR.
“I think they’ve already speeded up our innovation process because we’ve learned to do things faster, more consecutively based on the learnings that we got from RXBAR,” he said. “They are probably 80% faster than we are today. And if we can cut that in half, we’ll bring brands to market much, much faster.
"You have to strike the right balance ... when you're a big company." — Steven Cahillane, Kellogg
“And the other thing is you have to strike the right balance between when you’re a big company, you’ll often innovate more slowly than smaller companies. Because when you’re small and you have nothing, you have nothing to lose. You can get it out there. When you’re large, you tend to be conservative because you have to protect the brands along the way. And that can lead to overly conservative behavior.
“So I think on balance, we’ll innovate faster, we’ll innovate more creatively. And that’s not only in the product space, that’s also in the commercial and communications space.”
Mr. Cahillane called RXBAR “one of the really great companies at having dialogues with consumers rather than at consumers.” He said Kellogg is learning a lot about rapid response from the company.