General Mills Brand LoyaltyListening to your customers is always a perfect place to start for any marketer seeking to extend brand loyalty.

Just ask General Mills.

“Our primary strategy is to expand our Consumer First focus to generate sustainable topline growth,” General Mills CEO Ken Powell said during the July 1 fourth-quarter earnings conference call, according to Seeking Alpha. “We will do that by investing in significant core brand renovation across our portfolio and by introducing a strong slate of meaningful innovation, all geared toward meeting consumers evolving food preferences. As we enter fiscal 2016, General Mills is keenly aware of our consumers’ changing food preferences and the impact those changes are having on our industry. We remain deeply committed to following the consumer adapting to their evolving preferences and driving growth.”

When General Mills embraced Consumer First in fiscal 2015, it saw its business respond positively, whether it was protein cereals in U.S. retail, Yoplait Yogurt in U.S. retail and food-service channels, or Old El Paso dinner kits around the world.General Mills VoC

“We have four clear priorities for U.S. retail in 2016,” Powell explained. “They are, first and foremost, to grow our cereal business, second to accelerate our performance in better-for-you snacking, which includes both our yogurt and snacks operating units within U.S. retail, third to drive double-digit growth on our natural and organic portfolio by leveraging the combination of Annie’s and our heritage natural and organic brands, and finally to deliver Consumer First value on select brands in a way that generates positive returns for our business.”

“Consumer First renovation is at the heart of our plans to renew cereal growth,” Powell said. “Later this summer, we will begin marketing five of our largest Cheerios varieties which make up nearly 90% of franchise sales as gluten-free. We have developed a technology that separates our oats, which are naturally gluten-free, from other gluten containing grains that find their way into the oat supply. We know that 30% of U.S. consumers are interested in gluten-free foods and that a number of them have less the cereal aisle as a result. This news gives them five great reasons to come back. We will be taking another of our oat-based cereals, Lucky Charms, gluten-free later this year. Between Cheerios, Lucky Charms, and our Chex franchise, we are gluten-free news on product representing over half of our cereal sales and 17% of total category sales.”

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