- General Mills is introducing a virtual "homegate" platform as part of its Tailgate Nation program centered on college football, according to a press release.
- The packaged foods giant partnered with Michigan-based retailer Meijer and e-commerce firm Obsess to build the experience that is open through Oct. 16. The online portal features recipes, videos and gameday quizzes, as well as the ability to shop General Mills brands like Totino's, Old El Paso and Honey Nut Cheerios.
- Tailgate Nation will also be active in physical Meijer stores in several markets, while consumers who purchase four participating General Mills products can submit their receipt to receive a $50 discount code to Fanatics.com. The blend of physical and digital components shows General Mills adjusting its experiential strategy to recognize changing fan habits during the pandemic.
General Mills and partners Meijer and Obsess are trying to accommodate fans excited about the return of football who may be looking to host smaller gatherings at home rather than brave packed stadiums amid the pandemic. The homegate portal at the same time recognizes that many consumers — particularly desirable groups like Gen Z and millennials — are more comfortable conducting their shopping and brand interactions in virtual spaces. In a press statement, Neha Singh, founder and CEO of Obsess, noted young cohorts even prefer such features due to their familiarity with video games and esports.
The homegate experience itself places visitors in a simulated house where they can explore a kitchen and backyard that are decked out for game day and loaded with interactive touchpoints. Clicking on General Mills goods opens a pop-up window where users can choose to place the real-life version of the item in their cart for checkout. There are also several computer screens and devices scattered around the space that link to content themed around General Mills products and football. One located in the kitchen displays a YouTube video of a Betty Crocker recipe for chocolate chip cookies.
Additionally, General Mills is running physical shopper marketing activations at Meijer and an actual tailgate outside of The Big House, the football stadium for the University of Michigan. The mix of in-person and virtual elements in the latest iteration of the Tailgate Nation program underpins how hybrid strategies are becoming more common as marketers try to reach consumers who have different levels of comfort navigating the COVID-19 crisis.
Sports marketing this year has broadly put a brighter spotlight on home-viewing occasions. Pepsi, an NFL sponsor, is continuing a "Made For Football Watching" platform rolled out last season that caters to people who enjoy games from the comfort of their couch. Its latest ads star "Billions" actor David Costabile as he gives a rousing locker room-style speech about the necessity of staying in to binge football, even as other opportunities call. Miller Lite created a line of luxury rings that are targeted at game day friend groups who are finally getting back together after a year apart. Each is built with a chip that detects when another ring is nearby, and uniting all six unlocks free beer for life.
General Mills ramping up its sports marketing with a bigger focus on e-commerce comes on the tails of a strong performance period. The company beat analyst estimates in the first quarter, with net sales up 4.1% year-on-year to $4.54 billion. However, it also recently warned about rising inflation, supply chain issues and labor shortages — increasingly common problems across the category that may impact marketing as businesses look to cut costs.