General Mills invests to help c-stores maximise the healthier snacking opportunity

Karen Jenkins (pictured), sales director at General Mills, explains how the supplier is working with c-stores to maximise the healthier snacking opportunity.

General Mills announced recently that it has brought together 11 of the UK’s top convenience retailers to help raise awareness of the importance of the ‘Better for You’ snacking category. It has also invested in a field sales team.

The retailer panel was chosen by General Mills to ensure a broad range of sizes, symbol groups and locations across the UK. The retailers have had their fixtures relaid to trial the supplier’s advice.

Meanwhile, a new 30-strong field sales team aims to make thousands of calls to stores across the country to offer tailored merchandising, PoS, category advice and trend insight.

In the ‘Better for You’ snacking category, which is growing by 8.5% year on year (Nielsen), General Mills has three major brands: Nature Valley, Fibre One and Larabar. A £1.5 million campaign, ‘Get Out More’, is currently backing Nature Valley on TV. Further support includes video on demand, radio and Spotify advertising, social content and in-store marketing.

As a result of retailer feedback, the company recently released an optimised case size (11 count) for its Nature Valley single bars to ensure better fit on shelf. It also introduced Fibre One Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Fibre One Peanut Butter Popcorn bars in single format.

Cash & Carry Management spoke to sales director Karen Jenkins about the company’s investment:

How many people were in your field sales team previously? What is the financial investment in enhancing the team?

At General Mills, we have not supported this sector with a dedicated field sales team since 2012. Therefore, we are thrilled to be able to present a 30-strong team to further grow the ‘Better for You’ snacking category. We have invested a total of £350,000 into field sales this year. This includes van sales and PoS.

How often are you contacting/visiting the retailers on the panel and measuring the results of the snacking trials?

We aim to visit retailers on a monthly basis when implementing trials and measuring results. We also meet with them every quarter to discuss insights and trends. This gives us a great opportunity to receive genuine and constructive retailer feedback on our plans.

What insight and feedback have you already received from the panel and how have you acted on the issues raised?

Following the ‘Better for You’ snacking fixture relay with our panel, retailer Scott Graham of McLeish, Inverurie, saw a rise of over 30% in value sales.

When our team visited his store, they simply switched a couple of SKUs for the best sellers and tweaked the layout to ensure the shelves were clearly segmented into shopper needs.

The 5 x 1m bay already followed best practice advice to be located close to both food to go and confectionery lines in store. It is also now blocked into shopper needs – free from, functional health, kids, diet management, breakfast and regular – all marked up clearly on shelf strips. New aisle fins were also installed to attract shopper attention.

What core range are you recommending to convenience retailers to stock? Does this vary by geographic location and/or size of store?

We are recommending that retailers stock the top selling single snack bars for ‘Better for You’ snacking based on consumer need states and shopper missions. This recommendation may differ by size of store; however, these are currently the top sellers in the total UK market, so we strongly advise that retailers stock them if space allows.

Are your field sales reps providing PoS materials to all the retailers they visit?

Absolutely. Depending on requirements of the store, we have clip strips, countertop units, gutter trays and shelf-edge labels.

Is there a fixed period for the trials?

Not specifically – but we plan to move on to other key categories within the General Mills portfolio, including ice cream and world foods.

What are your own targets/expectations regarding increases in sales and profits from this initiative?

We are aiming to be the fastest growing manufacturer in single snacking across non-managed convenience over the next year.

 Tel: General Mills (01895) 201100


Published Date: October 17, 2019
Category: Meet the Manufacturer