Lynn Dornblaser
Lynn is the Director of Innovation & Insight at Mintel. Lynn applies her unique perspective on the market and new product development to tailored client research.

In a previous entry, I talked about Heinz’s baked beans in individual tubs sold in the UK, and commented on how that’s a concept that really does not translate all that well to the US market. But often, products present ideas that can be easily adapted to a new marketplace. And that’s what has struck me this week.McVitie

Anyone living in the UK or shopping in its grocery stores has come across digestive biscuits. These wholegrain sweet biscuits have a very long history, dating back to the mid-1800s. They are a thick, crispy biscuit, very well suited to having with tea. Of course, as we see with so many mainstay products like this, we have seen significant line extensions, with milk- and dark-chocolate coated digestives, ones with caramel and chocolate, and the like.

In the US, however, digestives are relatively unknown. Yes, you can buy McVitie’s (the biggest brand) in many US grocery stores, but at about a 5x premium to what they may cost in the UK. What takes the place of digestives in the US market is the graham cracker. Now, the graham cracker is formulated with many of the same ingredients, but it is very thin and has a completely different taste and experience. Plus, although you can buy chocolate-covered graham crackers, those are even further away from a digestive biscuit.Nature Valley Granola Thins

Enter the Nature Valley Granola Thin from General Mills in the US. What’s surprising about this product is that it is not formulated at all like a digestive biscuit (its first ingredient is oats, not wheat). That’s surprising, because it tastes like an Americanized version of a digestive. Yes, it’s thinner, and the texture is a bit different. But it is coated with chocolate (or peanut butter) on one side only, and it has that crispy yet particulate texture common in a digestive. The Granola Thins also are individually wrapped and much more premium priced than digestives would be in the UK market (even the chocolate ones).

Although the products are quite different, they taste surprisingly similar, and seem to me to be an interesting translation of a product popular in one market to a concept that could work in another.