Jun 06, 2011 • By

3 things we learned from Groupon

Cereal, canned vegetables, cookie mix and a Chinese meal.

Sound like a Groupon deal to you?

Those items were just part of General Mills’ first-time partnership with the online deal-of-the-day coupon giant, Groupon, in April.

Our deal certainly made headlines. The $20 deal offered free home delivery of 12 full-sized General Mills products valued at $40 and a bonus gift of $15 worth of in-store coupons.

The partnership was notable for being Groupon’s first consumer package goods offering – and for the 5,000 sample packs that sold out in a matter of hours.

Groupon is widely known for its discounts on services and experiences such as rounds of golf, fine dining and spa visits. But no one was quite sure how a grocery product would be received.

The experiment was the brainchild of Joe Trimble, a promotions marketing manager at General Mills. We asked him what he learned from it:

Consumers loved it

“Turns out, consumers really liked the concept,” says Joe. “We found there’s significant consumer interest in this type of program. Frankly, we weren’t sure if we’d move five or 5,000 cases. But given the sales and consumer feedback from online comments, we found that consumers really liked the offer, with nearly 90 percent of the comments being positive.”

It’s a cost-effective way to sample products

Given all the media attention, it looked like the deal was a calculated PR move. But Joe says it was first and foremost an experiment with a new kind of sampling technique.

“The primary objective was to experiment,” he says. “With the deep discounts on products plus the coupon book included in the offer, this clearly wasn’t a money-making venture for us, nor was it an e-commence play. But it seems to be a promising new way to sample our products.”

Mobile marketing is here to stay

“Given the popularity and quick sell-out of the offer, we know that offering deals to mobile users allows us to reach consumers almost instantly with a device that is always close-by,” Joe says.

General Mills is working on various initiatives as a way to extend current campaigns and reach new consumers via mobile sites like BettyCrocker.com and Pillsbury.com.