General Mills extends open innovation concept to digital marketing

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

In a series of briefs recently posted on its open innovation platform G-WIN, General Mills said it was looking for solutions enabling it to develop new products that boost satiety, enhance cognitive functions and lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease
In a series of briefs recently posted on its open innovation platform G-WIN, General Mills said it was looking for solutions enabling it to develop new products that boost satiety, enhance cognitive functions and lower risk factors for cardiovascular disease

Related tags: General mills

General Mills has expanded its open innovation platform to encompass marketing new products as well as creating them.

Minneapolis-based General Mills wants to connect with partners that have developed digital marketing technologies focusing on "video, social, mobile and gaming​" that could help bosses market brands from Betty Crocker to Yoplait more creatively.

“If you have a technology, process or platform that is unique, we’d like to hear about it,” ​said the firm.

“The ideal scope of work is a small pilot project to prove the technology or idea. An example of an ideal project would be a new advertising integration method for social games.”

Prospective partners with emerging digital technologies can contact General Mills online by visiting GWINDigital.com

Submissions will then be evaluated according to several criteria, including application for General Mills brands, uniqueness and proof of concept. Media plan proposals, original content ideas and media kits will not be accepted.

GWINDigital.com

Digital marketing is becoming an increasingly important tool for branded food companies, who are looking for new ways to engage shoppers via smart phones, iPads and other devices inside and outside the home, said chief marketing officer Mark Addicks.

“Today, digital marketing innovation is essential for us to connect and engage with consumers when and where they seek inspiration.”

Open innovation: Tools of the trade

General Mills has a central team working on connected innovation tools and processes and a group of full-time ‘innovation entrepreneurs’ based within its business divisions that are focused on the needs of their particular categories.

While posting ‘innovation briefs’ on the firm's G-WIN website​ had attracted a lot of publicity, it was only one strand of General Mills’ open innovation program, senior director of connected innovation Jeff Bellairs told FoodNavigator-USA.com earlier this year.

There is also an "internal version of Facebook"​ where General Mills’ employees can collaborate with each other, and annual conferences in which staff from across all of its business units are invited to share ideas, he said.

“We also run events for key suppliers - in fact we’ve just held a two-day conference in Minneapolis – where we share what we are looking at with them.

“Although sometimes direct competitors will be sitting in the same room, we’ve found that just getting our suppliers talking together has led to some great collaborations.

“We also do town-hall meetings all over the world where we invite in start-ups, entrepreneurs, academics to engage with us.”

Key learnings

While open innovation was billed as a means of engaging with external partners, General Mills had also learned a great deal from sharing expertise within its own four walls, said Bellairs.

Indeed, some of the company’s most exciting new products had been developed through breaking down the barriers within its own organization and employing technology from one part of the business in a completely different area, he said.

Click here ​to find out more about G-WIN Digital.

Related topics: Markets, Food labeling and marketing

Related news

Show more

Follow us

Products

View more

Webinars