Over the past year, General Mills has tested the concept of connected commerce, “which is about building brands across both physical and digital worlds,” by using “data, digital capabilities, measurement and execution to enable General Mills to be part of the consumer journey” as shoppers move fluidly between channels, CEO Jeff Harmening told investors yesterday during the company’s first quarter earnings call.
He explained that by combining the consumer data that General Mills has with that of the retailer – “with appropriate consumer privacy safeguards” – the company is better able to “spot patterns, experiment, scale up winning tests and launch new capabilities,” including more personalized marketing.
“We can better meet consumer demands and we can give them things that are more specifically interesting to them, and the more specific things you can give to consumers, the better off you’re going to be in attracting their sales,” Harmening added.
Box Tops for Education first 'significant' connected commerce initiative
General Mills executed its first “significant” connected commerce initiative this summer and fall with the digitization of its Box Tops for Education program.
“By moving Box Tops to a mobile app platform, we’ve saved schools the time and hassle of collecting and shipping physical clips, increased the number of participating schools and made it easier for consumers to find and support schools in need, and create a unique one-to-one relationships with our consumers,” Harmening said.
“For the back to school season this year, we’ve launched a new Box Tops campaign entitled Unlock Brighter Futures, focused on unlocking the door to more opportunities for families and school communities to get what is needed to every child to achieve their potential,” he said. “This campaign is building awareness of the Box Tops mobile app while strengthening our role as a force for good in our communities.”
[Editor's Note: Interested in how children's food is marketed and what parent's are looking for when selecting products? Tune into FoodNavigator-USA's fourth Food For Kids virtual summit this fall, where big names from Gerber to Sabra will share industry insights: https://www.foodnavigatorusasummit.com/live/en/page/home.]
General Mills is also using its connected commerce platform to “contemporize the consumer experience” with its Haagen-Daz business in China.
“The Haagen-Daz Smart Shop creates and ecosystem and provides consumers with a connected, digital experience, both in-store and virtually, via a mobile app and integration with WeChat. The entire consumer experience, from finding a store, browsing the digital menu, placing an order, payment and signing up for a loyalty program can now take place on a mobile phone,” Harmening explained.
This in turn is helping the company engage with new, younger consumers and the data generated allows General Mills to optimize personalized marketing and refine promotions, he added.
Finally, General Mills is using connected commerce to consolidate information about pet product sales through a new mobile platform, Buddies, which Harmening says “is not just an app, it’s a relationship centered on the moments that matter to pet parents.”
Harmening said these examples show that General Mill’s connected commerce platform is more than a “buzzword. It’s something we are taking an active approach to,” and which will help the company “boldly build our brand in the future.”