General Mills is deepening its partnership with Nielsen to get more information on consumer needs, trends and the competitive landscape in the U.S. and in foreign markets through Nielsen's Global Connect platform, the data analytics company announced Thursday. Nielsen said in a release that the platform has been a strategic ally to the CPG company's business for more than 10 years.
Nielsen said its strength in technology and and understanding of fast-growing markets, as well as its broad consumer consumption insights, will support General Mills' growth plans as the CPG and retail landscape becomes more competitive, fragmented and digital.
Laura McCullough, executive vice-president of U.S. manufacturer client success for Nielsen, said in the release that Nielsen Connect will expand the CPG company's view into the consumer marketplace to enable deeper understanding of core consumer needs and faster data-driven decisions for a more nimble operating environment.
Nielsen has been working with General Mills for many years. A decade ago, this relationship expanded, with Nielsen providing integrated marketing and media services involving retail tracking, consumer purchasing behavior insights, advanced analytical tools and technology services.
Expanding the partnership now could prove to be an asset to General Mills. Big CPG firms need all the help they can get to better understand today's changing marketplace and respond to shifting consumer demands. The Minneapolis-based company has struggled with sales of its ready-to-eat cereals and its yogurt brands as other breakfast options and plant-based yogurts take market share. Having better access to the latest consumer insights could help close the gap.
Nielsen also noted in the release its analytics can provide a comprehensive view into the pet food category for General Mills, which the company entered last year with its $8 billion purchase of Blue Buffalo Pet Products. That move made General Mills the leader in the U.S. natural pet food category. The acquisition hiked net sales for its pet food segment by 38% on a pro-forma basis for the fourth quarter and 11% for the full fiscal 2019 year.
Data analysis can help manufacturers make solid business decisions, better understand consumer preferences and even embark on new product lines. Brown-Forman Corporation, the maker of Jack Daniel's, Old Forester and Woodford Reserve, utilized data analytics to help launch its Old Forester Kentucky Straight Rye Whisky in February. The company used consumer, production and sales data — combined with internal financial information — to determine the U.S. market was ready for another brand of rye.
It could take a while to see how this expanded partnership with Nielsen's Global Connect platform will pan out for General Mills, but the influence of data analysis is likely to become clearer if and when new products or new categories emerge from the company. Should this approach pan out in tangible ways, more CPG companies looking for a competitive edge will no doubt be partnering with data firms as time goes on.