Category Captain: Ethnic Foods: General Mills

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Category Captain: Ethnic Foods: General Mills


Old El Paso, with the second-largest dollar share in the $3 billion Mexican meal category, is driving growth of this on-trend segment through a variety of efforts -- including research, new products, packaging, advertising and promotional support -- that positions retailers to meet rising consumer demand in this dynamic category.

Old El Paso’s aggressive growth strategy is based on four key opportunity areas: one consistent category definition, improved shopability, understanding regional demographics and growing usage. The brand recognizes that the economy-driven trend toward eating more Mexican meals at home represents a significant incremental opportunity for retailers.

Having invested significant resources during the past year -- which marks the highest such level of category research investment in the past decade -- to better understand these opportunities via shopper segmentation studies, assortment, in-home immersion, consumer intercepts, shop-along interviews and category audits, General Mills expects that leveraging this learning will drive an additional $1 billion in category sales for retailers.

Mexican meals is a highly regional category, and General Mills’ research is helping retailers better understand regional differences so they can more nimbly customize their distribution and merchandising. Old El Paso is also the only Mexican meal brand investing in national TV advertising. National advertising drives frequency, but General Mills brings meal solutions to customers that also drive results at retail.

In March, Old El Paso began shipping its newest heat-and-serve product, Tortilla Stuffers. As the only new products from any manufacturer in the category to hit the shelf this year, Mesquite Chicken, Carne Asada and Garlic Chili Chicken Tortilla Stuffers deliver convenience in the Mexican aisle. The new products are highly incremental, since they bring new consumers to the category while also catering to “convenience seekers” on the go who want easy-to-prepare meals to enjoy between other activities. General Mills reports these three SKUs already driving significant growth in the category.