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Customer engagement, especially for a massive company like General Mills, can come in many forms. Creating, implementing, and marketing such customer engagement opportunities can boost a company’s bottom line in the process.
That is the case, hopefully, for General Mills, as it embarks on its gluten-free campaign within its Cheerios franchise.
“By now you have probably heard of the exciting news that nearly 90% of our Cheerios franchise is going gluten free,” Shawn P. O’Grady, SVP; President, Sales and Channel Development for General Mills, said during the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call on Sept. 22, according to Seeking Alpha. “Our cereal operating unit has developed a strong marketing plan to reach consumers with this news and we’ll build on that plan by making it an unmissable event in stores. This quarter, we’ll place 35,000 full pallets on display across all retailers. To put that in context, our Back-to-School merchandising event, the largest annual event across our entire cereal range, is about this size. That means gluten-free Cheerios will be one of the largest merchandising event in our cereal business’s history.”
What’s more, the company has created custom gluten-free point-of-sale materials and will leverage digital tie-ins with several key customers.
“Retailers are incredibly excited about this news and the interest that it will bring to Cheerios and to the cereal category more broadly,” O’Grady added. “In addition to supporting renovation, like gluten-free Cheerios, we work to build in-store excitement for innovation like our new Yoplait Plenti Greek yogurts and Nature Valley Simple Nut Bars. Our first job is building distribution, leveraging our category management capabilities to secure a visible block on the shelf for these new items. While it’s still early, customer acceptance and initial distribution built on these items are trending higher than our original expectations. Once we have new items in distribution, we execute introductory merchandising and in-store sampling to drive trial. And increasingly we’re partnering with customers on digital marketing to build consumer awareness.”
The recent decline in effectiveness of merchandising across the store has been driven by too many displays, containing too many items and, worse, too many small items, O’Grady explained.
“We are working with retailers to improve merchandising effectiveness by refocusing on big categories, big brands, and fewer, but larger items,” he said. “That should mean more merchandising support for cereal, which is by far the most productive merchandise category in the center store, and more support for Honey Nut and Yellow Box cheerios, the largest items in the category’s leading franchise.”
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