Kat Jones Marketing Manager, General Mills

Kat Jones is General Mills’ Marketing Manager, Ice Cream & Snacking. She manages Häagen- Dazs, the number two global ice cream brand, Nature Valley, Britain’s leading cereal bar and Fibre One, worth £27million2 and growing exponentially. Kat spoke to Wholesale Manager.

How do you work with wholesalers?

Our wholesale team runs tower end displays in depot on many ambient brands, particularly Nature Valley. We also have strong visibility with branded bays to signpost categories and help order fulfilment. We recently ran some great Häagen-Dazs activity to kickstart the summer and we’re seeing sensational wholesaler support and strong sales.

Häagen-Dazs recently launched their first lower-calorie ice cream, Gelato. What’s the story?

The Gelato Collection is Häagen-Dazs’1 biggest launch this year. The Caramel Swirl and Chocolate Drizzle flavours are designed with traditional Italian Gelaterias in mind. The low air content makes it rich, creamy and extremely velvety. At 150 calories and 30% less sugar and 50% less fat than the original version/recipe, it’s the perfect permissible treat.

Tell us about the new coffee shopinspired collection, Barista. How big is Häagen-Dazs in out of home?

Barista Collection is our new coffeeinspired luxury ice cream, in two flavours, Caramel Chai Latte and Brownie Macchiato. Tapping into the huge coffee market, Barista offers an indulgent afterdinner treat. Out of Home is a growing channel for Häagen-Dazs, seeing good success in delivered foodservice with the likes of Deliveroo/UberEats and Theatres.

What’s trending in premium ice cream? How important is low calorie?

Luxury ice cream brands are still popular, and every share point Symbols gain is worth £4m a year.

For independent retailers, ice cream is a vital sales category, particularly in the warmer months. Tubs sell particularly well, with 91%1 of sales in this format.

Similarly, our sticks and minicups perform strongly with impulse shoppers looking for ice cream on-the-go.

Health is high on everyone’s agendas, however ice cream is still a treat that shoppers are willing to pay for. People are watching what they’re eating, but ice cream is still hugely popular when they want a little indulgence and lower calorie ice cream provides the best of both worlds. The new Gelato Collection opens up Häagen-Dazs to shoppers looking for a guilt-free treat.

Have you introduced any new Häagen- Dazs products or SKUs for the convenience sector?

Our sticks and minicups are ideal for impulse sales, but all our products are available to independent retailers and work well in this channel.

What above the line activity are you running for Häagen-Dazs?

Tennis is a consistent theme for the brand. We have been Wimbledon’s official Ice Cream partner for the past three years, and this partnership runs through our ATL activity every summer. This year’s campaign will be unveiled shortly but will continue to feature our brand ambassador Grigor Dimitrov as well as a brand-new Limited Edition pack.

On the snacking side, how are Nature Valley and Fibre One snack bars doing in convenience?

Nature Valley has always performed strongly in convenience, capturing impulse buyers looking for a convenient, yet permissible snack on the go, and is up 12% YoY in the channel.2 With our Fibre One performing really strongly, growing +141% in value sales3, we’ve also increased our focus on convenience. Coinciding with #FibreFebruary, we launched our bestselling Peanut Butter Popcorn and Chocolate Fudge Brownie bars in single serve format for the first time. These singles have grown over 1000% since launch.

What above-the-line marketing are Nature Valley and Fibre One doing?

Nature Valley is a long-term partner of the LTA and synonymous with British tennis.

We are title sponsors of three major tournaments, Eastbourne, Nottingham and Birmingham, as well as key sponsor of the Fever-Tree Championships at Queen’s Club. This year we became title sponsor of the ‘Nature Valley Big Tennis Weekends.’

The British Tennis grass roots series is a key period for Nature Valley as we continue inspiring people to get outdoors and experience the joy of nature. Last year was our largest summer campaign to date, including TV, VOD, digital display, paid social, experiential activation and PR as well as working with brand ambassadors Johanna Konta, the British women’s #1 and Leon Smith, GB Davis Cup Captain. We’re unveiling our 2019 campaign shortly, but will be investing £1.7million behind a full TTL media plan. Fibre One returned to TV earlier this year with a £1million campaign and is back on air this July.

Finally, have you any other Ice cream and Snacking products doing exciting things this summer?

Wimbledon is Häagen-Dazs’s biggest annual activity, and we’re celebrating with Limited Edition tubs and sticks. Being Wimbledon’s official ice cream confirms Häagen-Dazs as the most luxurious ice cream available. Lastly, we have more NPD coming on Nature Valley Protein and Fibre One Cake Bars… stay tuned!