General Mills UK has cemented its status as a major player within the World Foods category with a portfolio that boasts Old El Paso, the UK’s No 1 Mexican brand*, and the company’s latest product innovation – a new range of Chinese recipe kits under the Wanchai Ferry brand.
The launch represents another exciting chapter in the development of the World Foods category as General Mills UK bids to accelerate Chinese growth to the levels of the Mexican category.
Driving the Mexican Wave
General Mills UK has an excellent track record of driving growth through NPD and education in the Mexican category with Old El Paso. The brand has been instrumental in Mexican’s meteoric rise to £127.8 million (+11.7% annually)*.
“Old El Paso is the brand that made Mexican food accessible and appealing to UK consumers,” according to Andy Foweather, Sales Director, General Mills UK.
“It opened up Mexican to the masses with a unique product offering – dinner kits – providing shoppers with all the essential ingredients to cook Fajitas, Enchiladas, Tacos and Burritos. We then invested heavily in advertising to educate consumers on the product range.
“The Mexican brand, which was launched with just two lines, is today worth £69.1 million*. Old El Paso is currently growing at 19.5% and if growth rates continue then it will become a top 100 grocery brand in the near future*.”
This retail performance is no recent phenomenon and retailers are benefiting from a sustained period of growth for Old El Paso. In fact, in the last three years Old El Paso has added more than £18 million to the category*.
One of the major drivers of this growth has been above-the-line support, which has delivered uplifts as high as +155% week on week**. For this reason, the company is backing Old El Paso with a £5.5 million marketing programme again this year.
Spearheading that investment this summer are two television adverts, on air now and running until the end of August.
Drawing on the success of Old El Paso, General Mills UK has used its World Foods expertise to launch Wanchai Ferry – a brand with over 30 years of history in China – in the UK.
Launched in March the Wanchai Ferry range consists of a trio of authentic flavours from three Chinese provinces:
Xiang Gu Chicken Recipe Kit (Zhejiang Province), Kung Pao Chicken Recipe Kit (Szechuan Province) and Bo Luo Pork Recipe Kit (Guangdong Province).
Wanchai Ferry was developed to enable Chinese food enthusiasts to raise the quality bar when cooking at home, bridging the gap in the category between quick and easy sauces, and cooking meals from scratch, which can be a little daunting for many UK consumers.
Ed Culf, Marketing Director, General Mills UK, says: “Wanchai Ferry has been brought to the UK to move consumers on a culinary journey; taking them from low involvement functional Chinese meals to more pleasurable, highly creative solutions. People aspire to have the same food at home that they enjoy in restaurants. And, In these uncertain times, consumers are opting to stay at home at weekends, treating themselves to high quality food at home rather than going out to a restaurant.”
Having secured strong support for Wanchai Ferry among UK retailers, General Mills UK is investing £4 million in a heavyweight consumer advertising campaign to raise awareness, enhance understanding and create demand for Wanchai Ferry.
The eye-catching, innovative media campaign, which runs from June to August takes on the theme of Tai Chi and is being spearheaded by television advertising. Other activity includes press and a major online campaign, which will drive traffic to the brand’s new website – www.wanchaiferry.co.uk. All creative features the strap-line ‘MASTER THE ART OF CHINESE CUISINE’, ensuring an impactful, joined up campaign.
There is a host of promotional activity, running alongside the awareness raising media campaign which will provide consumers with the incentive to purchase.
Foweather says: “This is sure to be the start of something big for the Chinese category. Great television creative and NPD that is genuine innovative are the two key ingredients for category growth. We did it with Mexican and a specialist Mexican brand (Old El Paso) over a decade ago and we’ll do it again with Chinese through Wanchai Ferry.”
* Source: IRI Grocery Outlets 52 w/e 16 May 2009
** Source: IRI Grocery Outlets 52 w/e 1 Nov 2008
general mills uk tel: 01895 201100 www.generalmills.co.uk