ORLANDO, FL: General Mills has enhanced its insights operations by carefully consolidating its roster of vendors while also seeking out prospective new sources of data and inspiration.

Laura Engstrom, General Mills’ Global Consumer Insights Manager, discussed this subject at The Market Research Event (TMRE), a conference held by KNect365.

And as part of a broader effort to ensure the company’s insights team is primed to meet evolving needs around the world, she reported that a refreshed playbook includes “cheat sheets” covering the capabilities and strengths of numerous vendors.

Compiling this information has been essential as the owner of Cheerios, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury aims to identify a more cohesive group of international service providers, mixed with certain local specialists as required.

“We need to develop global scale. As much as possible, they needed to match our global footprint,” said Engstrom. (For more details, read WARC’s in-depth report: Real-life best practices: How General Mills fixed a broken insights process.)

Drilling down into its strategy, Engstrom explained that a review of three years of insights spending helped weigh value as well as investment, as many teams had been “voting with their dollars” in individual markets.

“We also looked at the breadth of capabilities that each vendor offered and how they spanned across our toolkit. We also had vendors with truly unique and differentiated capabilities that we couldn’t get anywhere else,” she said.

And that exercise revealed the possibility of making savings without damaging overall performance. “We were able to streamline our vendor roster by more than two-thirds,” said Engstrom.

In addition to looking at past expenditure and experiences to delineate best practices, her team is looking ahead. “Our job was to identify different emergent technologies, beyond mobile, to enhance research,” said Engstrom.

One illustrative example involves the data input yielded by smart refrigerators, which track food usage and automatically re-order products when supplies run low.

“A lot of [that] isn’t mainstream yet. But a lot of the companies we talked to were mainly tech companies, not research companies. So there’s huge value,” Engstrom said.

To that end, she added, “there’s so much opportunity to do more emotional research that really gets into that automatic processing of the brain. So we’re also looking for partners there.”

Sourced from WARC