General Mills targets deal-seekers with digital savings effort

Consumers are always on the hunt for a great deal, and that’s even truer because of the pandemic—especially as the prospect of a serious recession looms large. Knowing that value is top of mind for many, General Mills recently launched a national rebates program that lets shoppers receive cash back to their PayPal account when they submit an itemized receipt via the app.

We recently spoke with KC Glaser, senior manager of brand experience at General Mills, and Steven Boal, founder and CEO of Quotient, a digital marketing and analytics company that’s powering this initiative. They shared more about the program, how it works, and how both companies have pivoted their strategies to meet consumers’ changing needs.

Tell us about the new national rebates program and the strategy behind it.

Glaser: We have seen a shift recently toward digital incentives. The shift’s been happening over the past several years, but as you can imagine, the pandemic helped accelerate the desire for digital incentives on all sides of the equation. And rebates, from a strategic perspective, allow us to continue to meet our consumers where they are, which is on their devices. It makes saving easy when value, quite frankly, is needed most for many people.

How will the program work?

Boal: On the surface, the way it works is really quite simple, which is very important when you work with shoppers. A shopper downloads the app, and if it’s their first time using the app, they register by putting in their phone number. We confirm it, and they go shop—or they can check the offers they want first. They get a physical receipt, they take a picture of it, they upload the picture, and we pay them.

What are you hoping to get out of it?

Glaser: First and foremost, we know that our consumers are income-constrained, and we know that this is a tough time for a lot of people. Providing that choice allows for a more frictionless experience. It allows us to understand more about how people like to shop and how they like to save.

This program is still relatively new. Are you going to revisit it to see what’s worked and what hasn’t, and possibly have conversations with customers about other features they might want?

Glaser: Yes, of course. With any incentives program we run, we want to make sure that we are measuring it and that it is living up to our expectations, as well as to the consumer’s expectations. As for talking to consumers specifically about, we will likely work in partnership with Quotient to gather some of those learnings. We have an opportunity to learn what rebates mean for our incentives plan and for the consumer in general.

What have the past few months been like for General Mills?

Glaser: It’s been an unprecedented time not only for General Mills, but for everybody else. And we’ve been working to shift our strategies to help consumers get through this challenging time. Speaking specifically from an incentives lens, that includes expanding where our offers can be found. We have replanned our incentives strategy to offer more value and differential value, highlighting offers across our portfolio to help consumers save.

And for Quotient?

Boal: Shoppers are under pressure and we want to make sure that we continue to get value to shoppers, but CPG [consumer packaged goods] brands are under pressure, too, because the supply chains got really tight. And in some cases, CPGs stopped giving promotions to shoppers. We worked hard with our CPG partners and retail partners to try to find the right balance, to keep CPGs competitive with each other.

What’s next on your road map?

Glaser: There’s a lot of things we probably can’t dive into in much detail. But if the recession of 2008 taught us anything, it’s that we can expect this need for value to stick around for several years.

Boal: We’re really expanding our retail footprint. And for the first time, we’re going to be announcing partnerships with retailers that are not in our core vertical. So, not really grocery, but think categories like DIY.