General Mills 'renewing, renovating' growth strategies

by Eric Schroeder
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NEW YORK — Investing in key growth demographics, communicating via new media, responding to health opportunities and relating to retail partners are essential parts of General Mills, Inc.’s efforts to spark business performance, according to the Minneapolis-based company.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Consumer Products Conference held May 14 in New York, Ken Powell, president and chief executive officer at General Mills, said despite a challenging environment the company continues to do well and remains committed to its growth model, including low single-digit sales growth. With that in mind, he said the company is making headway on its plans to "renew and renovate" many of its approaches in its U.S. retail business in order to drive consistent strong performance across all categories.

One approach includes a "very high focus on multicultural consumers," Mr. Powell said.

"African-American and Hispanic moms are 40% of the mothers that we are talking to now," he said. "We are spending significantly more money against those consumers, and that demographic is outpacing our average growth right now."

Mr. Powell also noted General Mills’ strategy of becoming a leader in digital marketing is playing out well.

"We’ve made major investments in our own direct-to-consumer lists," he said. "We have many millions of people that we are communicating with now as well as things like and This whole avenue of using the Internet and direct-to-consumer lists to reach consumers is very high returning marketing activity for us and we are on the leading edge of that right now."

General Mills also continues to improve the health profile of its brands, Mr. Powell said, and is "reinventing" the way it relates to its retail partners.

"It’s great that we have leading brands and great brands," he said. "In this world, that is no longer enough. It’s not just about products. It’s about offering products and services." He said this includes helping retail partners understand their aisle, category or the way they organize the store, as well as helping with their supply chain, logistics, marketing and consumer insight.

"We are offering a full range of capabilities to our partners now in order to help them win and grow in the marketplace," he said.

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