General Mills Readying for Elevated Demand as E-Com Grows to 9% of Sales

Lisa Johnston
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General Mills is working with its retail partners to ensure its e-commerce business is running at full speed as it prepares for elevated demand to continue throughout the year.

The company reported net sales of $5 billion in its fiscal fourth quarter, up 21% vs. the prior year, driven by increased consumer demand as a result of the coronavirus. Organic net sales grew 16% year over year.

Its e-commerce business grew 250% during the quarter, with the segment representing about 9% of the company’s total sales.

Nearly 50% of all U.S. households have purchased food and beverage products from General Mills over the last year, said Jon Nudi, group president of North America retail, in an earnings call, giving it a 7-point boost in penetration from last year.

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The biggest growth impediment on this front were retailers’ capacity to deliver to consumers’ homes, as well as click-and-collect the number of slots available, he said.  

“We’re working with our retail partners to make sure that we optimize our e-commerce business with them, increasingly really connecting into their data, and making sure that we take an omnichannel approach to making sure whether the customer wants to shop in the store or shop online, we’re seeing consistent campaigns,” said Nudi. He added that the company is also being mindful of its ability to deliver to consumers from its supply chain.

Among General Mills’ plans include investments in analytics to amplify strategic revenue management efforts to unlock price/mix opportunities, as well as leverage data to personalize its communication and offers to consumers, such as its now-digital Box Tops for Education campaign.

General Mills, like other consumer goods companies and retailers, streamlined its SKU count for certain categories during the health crisis as one way to manage the heightened demand. While some categories are starting to be phased back in, others, such as certain canned soup varieties, won’t return.

Separately, the company, which is No. 35 on the CGT Top 100 Consumer Goods Companies of 2019 list, announced it’s teamed with martech provider Zyper to help it connect with its superfans in Australia, the U.K. and the Middle East. General Mills will use Zyper’s software, which leverages computer vision and natural language processing, to identify the Betty Crocker and Fibre One brands’ top 1% of fans on social media, and then grow and manage these fan communities, providing them access to digital experiences, rewards and events.

Once the fans are identified, they’re invited to interest-based communities hosted on the Zypher platform; the communities then provide a stream of user-generated content that can be unlock product and purchase insights. Other consumer goods companies that also team with Zypher include Farfetch, LVMH, and L'Oréal.

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