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There is an opportunity for the brands owned by General Mills to become more mindful and responsible, according to Arjoon Bose, the FMCG giant’s marketing head for the Europe and Australasia regions.

In an interview with The Drum’s executive editor Sonoo Singh as part of our ongoing Digital Transformation festival, Bose was asked if FMCG firms were well placed to play a meaningful role in consumers’ lives during the coronavirus pandemic.

He replied: “In our industry of food, there’s never been a greater time to be more responsible in how you interact with your consumers. We need to be there [more].

“The brands in our portfolio can deepen the relationship with a consumer by acting more responsibly and mindfully. Our brands need to be having meaningful one-to-one conversations. We need to take a stand, where possible, and serve as a beacon of inspiration. There’s a lot of opportunities.”

Looking forward, he admitted that as a marketer he was nervous about sponsoring or putting money into live events due to the ongoing pandemic, and suggested General Mills would invest its marketing budget primarily in the digital space over the coming years.

“During these unprecedented times, where trade advertising might prove to be challenging, we have no choice but to review our plans,” he said. 

“We are mindful of where consumers are spending most of their time so there will be an increased shift at looking what we can do in the digital social influencer space. Sad as it maybe is, there will be an increased focus on social, digital and e-commerce. Embracing the right tech is going to be important.”

On how embedding responsibility into General Mills' brands might look like in reality, Bose explained: “We are in the midst of making these changes, so I can’t say too much.

"But let’s say one of our brands like Old El Paso, which is a Mexican cooking brand all about recipes and bringing people together, well, people are going to have more time at home [because of coronavirus]. So recipes could be a strong way to bring more happiness and variation into people’s lives.

“Or if you look at Lärabar, which is a gluten-free, vegan energy bar, we can embrace the more mindful tribe. We can connect with its fans through content that touches on wellness and mindfulness; there’s a chance to bring that community together.”

Bose also explained how General Mills recently altered its home baking brand Betty Crocker so it was less female-centric, taking note of the fact that just about everyone right now is baking.

You can watch the full interview here and view more content from The Drum's Digital Transformation Festival here.