General Mills plans new product drive

21 December 2012

NEW YORK: General Mills, the food group, is planning to introduce around 100 new products in the US, as it seeks to meet emerging shopper needs and drive up revenues.

"Across all of US retail, we will launch 100 new products in our fiscal 2013," Ian Friendly, General Mills' chief operating officer of US Retail, said, a period the company is already half way in to.

General Mills will try to leverage "on trend flavours", and increasing demand in the "better-for-you" snacking category, as customers seek out particular ingredients and to "regulate energy levels".

"We have terrific product innovation in market, and we're supporting our brands with strong levels of in-store merchandising, advertising and other consumer-directed marketing," Friendly told analysts on a conference call.

More specifically, the company will push existing ranges into untapped categories, such as with the launch of Green Giant Veggie Chips, moving this line outside the vegetable segment.

Various brand extensions will also be launched, from Totino's Pizzeria Rolls to GoGurt Twisted yoghurt. New cereal flavours, such as Honey Nut Cheerios Medley and Peanut Butter Toast Crunch, will supplement this activity.

A further source of innovation will be attaching new consumer benefits to a well-known brand, such as Fiber One Protein bars.

General Mills has set the goal of its new products delivering 4% to 5% of total sales in their first year, rising to between 11% and 12% over three years.

"Another metric for us is incrementality. So we want to make sure that we're launching products that are bringing new consumers into the franchise," said Kendall Powell, CEO of General Mills. "We've steadily improved that number.

"Margin is another key metric for us, and we want to make sure that the business model is sound for all the new products that we're launching. And so we have very good metrics and discipline about the quality of the new products that we launched."

The firm has cut its advertising spend over the last six months. However, it believes effectiveness in this area is more important than budget.

"We do a lot of upfront research. We do a lot of in-market experimentation and analysis, and we try and put our money behind our best ideas," said Friendly. "And when we have them, we do put the pedal to the metal without a doubt."

Data sourced from Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff