MINNEAPOLIS — As the consumption of mini meals grows each year, food and beverages serving all day-parts are beginning to appeal more to time-starved consumers seeking smaller portions that cater best to on-the-go eating.
Side dishes and appetizers have jumped from a menu’s “left side” to the center of the plate, and so have mini-style breakfast items.
Having shipped nationally in April, Pillsbury Minis—a packaged bakery item made available exclusively at convenience stores for the packaged bakery aisle—is noted as one of the fastest rollouts of a new product within the Pillsbury Minis brand’s portfolio, according to General Mills Convenience.
The Minneapolis-based company added Apple and Raspberry flavors to its lineup of Pillsbury Minis, joining Mini Cinnamon Rolls, Mini Blueberry Muffins with Streusel, Mini Cinnamon Crumb Cake and Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins.
Most c-store bakery merchandisers have traditionally held full-size items that are harder for consumers to eat on the go, the company said. These new items cater to that need.
As of April, more than 90% of all 7-Eleven stores carried at least one of the Pillsbury Mini SKUs. 7-Eleven reports that the majority of the volume from the Pillsbury Minis is incremental to the category, according to General Mills Convenience.
Convenience Store Products caught up recently with Steve Gokey, national account manager, General Mills Convenience and Foodservice, to talk about the motivators for the new product line customized for c-store merchandising.
Convenience Store Products: This product was noted as one of the fastest rollouts of a new product within franchise. Can you go into detail on the speed to market—namely to 7-Eleven stores—compared to other past initiatives?
Gokey: The rollout of Pillsbury Minis has been one of General Mills Convenience’s most successful product launches with 7-Eleven to date. Within six weeks, more than 90% of 7-Eleven stores had ordered Pillsbury Minis. The quick “take rate” was due to the fact there was an opportunity in the packaged bakery category and with potential for a high-quality, bakery-style product from [the Pillsbury brand]. Thus, the franchise made the most of the product launch and ensured all of its stores had information early on along with detailed planograms.
Q: What observations had you made about c-store breakfast opportunities and what was lacking across the channel in general?
A: The packaged bakery segment in c-stores hasn’t seen a lot of innovation in recent years; however, we know that consumers’ preferences are evolving and there is a major opportunity to freshen up the bakery aisle. Particularly at breakfast, we know consumers are looking for convenience as well as items that satisfy a sweet craving. They want food that not only tastes great but is in a format they can eat in the car or on the go. Further, it is interesting to note that breakfast items represent a large portion of this large category (64% of the nearly $2 billion category), demonstrating the opportunity at hand for c-stores that want to enhance their bakery offerings.
Q: Do you see Minis as being intended for the retailers who lack an ambitious breakfast program and need an easy entrance to drive this day-part segment?
A: The Pillsbury Minis are a great way for any retailer to freshen up their packaged bakery aisle and can particularly help those retailers who don’t have a robust breakfast program. The new item helps retailers capture those morning customers, offering them a bakery-style product with homemade taste in clear, resealable packaging that lets the product quality shine.
Q: How did the relationship with 7-Eleven come about?
A:We had some conversations with distributors early on about the state of packaged bakery and it evolved into a space we decided to explore. We did some initial testing with 7-Eleven that went very well and saw the opportunity come to life.
Q: Can you reveal what other chains are on the short list to incorporate the program?
A:In addition to 7-Eleven stores, the Pillsbury Minis are now widely available at a number of retailers nationwide including Kum & Go, Circle K and more.
Q: How have 7-Eleven stores fared thus far from a weekly/monthly breakfast volume standpoint since April? (7-Eleven was not available to shed light on the maturation of this program.)
A: We cannot comment specifically about the performance of the Pillsbury Minis at 7-Eleven; however, according to Nielsen, all items are in the top third in the packaged bakery category for sales. The highest ranked item is the Pillsbury Mini Cinnamon Roll, which is ranked 17th. All four items have a weighted ACV above 30%. The four [original] SKUs represent 5% dollar share of top 125 selling items within category.
Q: How are the Pillsbury items merchandised in the stores to build awareness and drive trial?
A: Pillsbury Minis are placed in-line with shelf talkers and also have secondary placement on racks on the coffee counter. Retailers can also customize header cards to promote their coffee programs.
Q: Looking to the future, can you go into detail on the portfolio expansion beyond Minis?
A: We are thrilled with the excitement and early growth around the Pillsbury Minis and look forward to introducing new flavors and formats down the road.