Consumer Analytics

General Mills Sees ‘Incredible Returns’ From First-Party Data Investments

Lisa Johnston
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General Mills’s investments in acquiring first-party data continue to pay off as the consumer goods company builds out its connected commerce strategy. 

General Mills has increased its investments in digital and technology by more than $100 million over the past few years, company leaders said in an earnings call today, and it expects to grow these investments by double digits in 2023. 

More of the company’s marketing is evolving to digital and performance-based marketing, said Jon Nudi, group president of North America retail. As a result, they’ve invested heavily to acquire first-party data so they can strengthen their marketing engagement platform to serve relevant messaging at scale that’s customized for consumers. 

“We're seeing really incredible returns from that,” said Nudi. 

One example of how the No. 28 publicly owned consumer goods company leverages this data and connected commerce capabilities: General Mills targeted its Pillsbury “make homemade” messaging to consumers who had recently purchased an air fryer, in turn driving lower cost-per-click and converting a higher share of its new Pillsbury consumers. 

General Mills launched its first consumer loyalty program earlier this year in partnership with Fetch. The program, which spans across all of its brands, not only helps the company raise brand awareness but also provides a steady source of that valuable first-party data.  

The company’s numerous websites collecting consumer registrations further provide insight into the different types of consumers and pets are eating, Cheriti Swigart, director, digital and technology solutions at General Mills, recently told CGT, enabling General Mills to connect for a full shopping experience. 

“You can have recipes, and you can have shopping opportunities that don't confine you to just one type of food,” she noted. “So it's that connection that I think is going to bring [first-party data] alive."

To modernize the digital capabilities across the enterprise, General Mills has developed a number of digital tools to better understand the digital shelf, according to Nudi, including dashboards for its executives.  

"We grew up in … a bricks-and-mortar world [where] we understand Nielsen and the drivers of our business,” he said. “Digital is different, right? So, we had to develop the dashboards for our teams to really look at the metrics that matter, make sure the digital shelf is correct, make sure that our search metrics are where they needed to be. And a lot of that is now digitized. It's on our leaders’ computers every day in a dashboard form, and they're making real-time adjustments to the business.”  

Watch: How General Mills Defines Personalization

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