General Mills ups marketing investment after crediting brand building for five-year growth streak

The Häagen-Dazs owner has praised the power of brand building and committed to increasing marketing spend next year.

General Mills is committed to stepping up its investment in brand building campaigns, calling it a “critical” move to keep its brands, which include Betty Crocker, Cheerios and Häagen-Dazs, “relevant”.

Posting its full-year financial results, Jeff Harmening, CEO of the business credited its brand building and innovation efforts for “five consecutive years of strong market share performance”.

The business’s “ability to adapt” has also been a key differentiator in recent years, he said, talking on an investor call yesterday (28 June). “We like our chances to continue to respond more quickly and successfully than our competition to whatever changes come our way in the year ahead,” he added.

For the year, General Mills reported sales growth of 6% with net sales reaching $20.1bn (£15.8bn). The business had a operating profit of $3.4bn (£2.7bn) for the year, down 1% on last year. Adjusted operating profit was $3.46bn (£2.7bn) – up 8%.

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In terms of the last quarter, net sales reached $5bn (£3.9bn), a 3% increase. Operating profit was however down 19% to $818m, with adjusted operating profit being $889m (£702m), “effectively” matching last year, the business said.

“Over the past few years, our marketing is actually up 35% versus pre-pandemic levels,” said Harmening. He said this will benefit the business in the year ahead because “consumers in this environment [are] looking for new ideas and… ways to grow.” The business also increased its media investment by 17% in the last year.

He added the business feels “good” about its marketing spend in the next financial year. “We feel great about the year that was, and we feel confident about the year that’s going to come up.”

Harmening’s confidence is thanks to the business’s ability to be “agile” in the last few years, he said. “It’s not an accident we’ve grown share in the majority of our categories [in the last five years],” he added. “It’s been hard work and good marketing.”