NEW YORK: General Mills, the packaged-food group, believes tapping into the "convergence" between the millennial and multicultural audiences could become a powerful sweet spot for brands.

Ann Simonds, the firm's incoming CMO after Mark Addicks announced he would retire last year, discussed this topic at the Advertising Research Foundation's (ARF) Industry Leader Forum in New York.

There are many "differences and distinctions" currently reshaping the consumer marketplace, she argued, but the rise of millennials and shoppers from different cultural backgrounds is perhaps the most important.

"When you're trying to find and make markets, which is fundamentally my job," she said, "the reality is much of this millennial generation happens to be multicultural." (For more, including the firm's three-point recipe for success, read Warc's report: General Mills targets the millennial/multicultural mix.)

As a reflection of this fact, the goal for marketers should be to identify ways of taking youth-orientated and multicultural messaging out of any remaining silos.

"Inside any packaged-goods company," Simonds said, "the single biggest growth opportunity within your mainstream brands will be the convergence of these audiences – simply getting the same share of these households as you're getting from the households that grew up on these businesses."

One General Mills brand exemplifying such an idea is Cheerios, which caused an online stir by casting a multiracial family in a TV ad, and stood firm as a small – but vocal – minority criticised this decision.

Marketing with a clear purpose in mind, Simonds suggested, can help companies achieve similar results across the multicultural and millennial mix.

"Make no mistake: it's a point of competitive advantage for us to consciously choose to invest and nurture those communities," she said.

"That's the new competitive advantage for us in the same way we used to have the competitive advantage in Saturday-morning cartoon advertising for Lucky Charms.

"We just have a different version of it today."

Data sourced from Warc