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When it became clear in 2009 that category momentum had slowed, Progresso invested in significant research to determine the causes behind this trend, as well as develop solutions for its retail partners. Because ready-to-serve (RTS) is the largest soup segment and a major driver of category trends, General Mills opted to focus first on righting RTS before turning its attention to a more holistic category approach.
Progresso provided clear strategies to solve mix, messaging and value perception issues that were causing RTS, and therefore the category, to decline. The brand asked retailers to focus on three key tactics: adding variety to RTS, contracting microwave and expanding taste distribution. In addition, Progresso aligned its innovation with such taste-focused new items as World Recipes and a new Mexican-inspired subline. And because the Rich & Hearty line is taste-focused, highly productive and incremental to the category, Progresso invested heavily in relaunching it this past summer.
A wide variety of taste-focused messaging strategies were employed to drive consumers back to the category. Additionally, Progresso invested in significant trade support to secure meaningful and effective quality merchandising. While support was robust throughout soup season, October and January were key windows for teams to join forces with retailers to leverage lower price points. The strategy worked, as RTS quality merchandising was 11 percent more effective this soup season and overall incremental dollars were up 8 percent.
Progresso is now working with retail partners to implement a next-generation solution that incorporates a usage-based shelf set segmenting meal and ingredient soups, taste RTS SKUs blocked at eye level, and signage to warm up the aisle.