General Mills ‘Consumer First’ Push Brings New Products and Focus


General Mills - EPIC Performance Bars

General Mills executives updated investors and analysts on its global growth priorities at the company’s annual Investor Day, including pushing e-commerce and leveraging the company’s $8bn Blue Buffalo pet food acquisition in February.

Already modernizing its portfolio of brands and products, the company this week unveiled new products that aim to “capture the moment” and reflect its ‘Consumer First’ commitment.

For instance, with people looking for ways to refuel after a workout, and its new EPIC Performance Bars are crafted with six simple ingredients, including cage-free egg whites.  Prefer yogurt to a bar? The new YQ by Yoplait line, which debuted in June, uses ultra-filtered milk to make a higher protein, lower carb solution.

The new brands enhance its flagship brands including Cheerios, Annie’s, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Häagen-Dazs, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Wanchai Ferry, Yoki, Blue and more.

“What people need out of their food moments varies from person-to-person,” stated Lanette Shaffer, a senior Innovation, Technology and Quality director at General Mills. “For some, convenience is key. For others, diet or allergy restrictions play a main role in food choices. And in some cases, the need is simply to fulfill the craving for a delectable treat. Our new product lineup fulfills each of these needs.” 

General Mills CEO Jeff HarmeningGeneral Mills Chairman and CEO Jeff Harmening (right) commented at the Investors Day event that the company remains committed to its ‘Consumer First’ strategy, which means deeply understanding what consumers are looking for, and responding quickly to give them what they want. Fiscal 2018 represented an important first step in returning General Mills to sustainable topline growth, including finishing the year with three consecutive quarters of organic net sales growth.

“In a world of high change, it’s clear to me that ‘Consumer First‘ is more relevant than ever. I firmly believe that when we serve our consumers and give them what they want, we win every time,” said Harmening. “And when we win, our employees win, our communities win and our shareholders win.”

Global Growth Priorities

Harmening highlighted three global growth priorities to generate consistent topline growth:

• Competing effectively everywhere: on all brands, across all geographies, through innovation, marketing, and in-store execution.
• Accelerating differential growth platforms, including Häagen-Dazs, Snack Bars, Old El Paso and the Natural & Organic portfolio of brands.
• Reshaping the portfolio for growth through acquisitions and divestitures.

Competing Effectively

The key to success is finding a healthy balance of topline and bottom line growth. Improvement on topline trends will continue, but it’s also necessary to drive efficiency and support for margins. Opportunities for efficiency include accelerated Holistic Margin Management savings and Strategic Revenue Management, which will generate positive price/mix benefits for all segments across the company.

Accelerating Growth

Innovation is ramping up globally, resulting with the afore-mentioned new products including YQ yogurt, EPIC performance bars, Betty Crocker mug treats and Häagen-Dazs stick bars and mini cups.

The company continues to broaden its approach to brand investment, leveraging a wider variety of vehicles beyond media advertising, including point of sale, packaging, and sponsorships. General Mills is investing in each of these areas in Fiscal 2019 to drive meaningful consumer engagement and accelerate growth.

General Mills’ E-commerce business grew 50% in Fiscal 2018, and that growth is expected to continue into Fiscal 2019. With the addition of Blue Buffalo pet products, the company expects to generate $1 billion dollars in net sales from E-commerce by Fiscal 2020.

Reshaping the Portfolio

The primary focus is maximizing Blue Buffalo’s growth opportunity within the General Mills portfolio. Divestitures is another important piece of the portfolio shaping strategy. The anticipated scope of the divestiture opportunity is roughly 5% of total company sales.

Fiscal 2019 Priorities

Building from the Global Growth Priorities, in Fiscal 2019 the Company will be focused on:

• Growing the core business by competing more effectively and accelerating differential growth platforms.
• Successfully transitioning Blue Buffalo Pet Products acquisition into the General Mills family and continuing its track record of double-digit growth.
• Delivering on its financial commitments by leveraging Holistic Margin Management and Strategic Revenue Management efforts to drive efficiency and maintaining a sharp focus on working capital and cash flow.

Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, General Mills generated fiscal 2018 consolidated net sales of US $15.7 billion, as well as another US $1.1 billion from its proportionate share of joint-venture net sales.