The Back-to-School season is a key moment for shoppers and brands alike.

This year, 47% of consumers will be participating in Back-to-School shopping. And finding great deals is more important to these shoppers than ever. In our annual Back-to-School survey, 98% of consumers said they’ll be looking for Back-to-School deals for at least one of the categories they plan on buying from, and 61% of them said they’d be seeking out deals on food specifically. It’s also important to note that when shoppers can’t find the deals they want on food items, nearly 70% say they’ll simply buy store brand or lower-priced name brands.

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For CPG brands, this means that both customer loyalty and dollars are up for grabs — if they’re willing to seize the moment. In 2023, that’s exactly what General Mills did.

General Mills has leveraged the Ibotta Performance Network (IPN) since August 2022 to dial in its marketing strategies. Over time, they’ve gained a deep understanding of seasonal consumer behavior and receptiveness to promotional activations. And with the ability to validate incremental sales, they’ve pinpointed the true effectiveness of their marketing investments.

Taking advantage of this experience and the power of the IPN, General Mills decided to bet big on Back to School. They partnered with Ibotta to launch a campaign that would grow offer redemptions across their brand portfolio and entice new brand purchasers with targeted promotions.

“We knew Back to School presented big opportunities for General Mills and our portfolio of brands,” said General Mills Senior Manager of Loyalty Rewards KC Glaser. “And we knew the IPN would drive the results we were looking for. By partnering with Ibotta, we were able to unlock customer engagement and loyalty and generate greater return on marketing spend.”

The IPN puts brands in front of 91% of American households through major retailers such as Walmart, Dollar General, Family Dollar, and 2,000 additional stores across 375 independent retailers. By leveraging Ibotta’s robust, first-party data from the largest panel of verified buyers, brands like General Mills can accurately and confidently measure shopper behavior, giving them a deeper understanding of consumers and their relationships with brands.

In this case study, we’ll take a look at General Mills’ biggest wins from the Back-to-School season and then zoom in to see how they’ve built on that momentum to gain crystal clear insights into their incrementality.


Activating cross-promotion between brands

General Mills’ Back-to-School campaign was all about maximizing reach for their entire portfolio. “With more than 45 brands in the General Mills family, it was important to us to shine a light on all of the great products we offer,” Glaser said. “Our goal was to not only motivate consumers to buy more of the General Mills products they love but to also try out items that they hadn’t purchased from us in the past.”

With this goal in mind, General Mills partnered with Ibotta to implement a strategy that promoted the entirety of their portfolio, driving awareness of the brands they offer by incentivizing shoppers to purchase multiple brands throughout the month.

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Over the 30 days this campaign ran, they were able to increase the number of unique General Mills products in redeemers’ baskets. At the same time, they saw fewer instances of redeemers only buying one of their products during a single shopping trip.

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General Mills’ strategy made a clear impact on the purchasing decisions of shoppers. By the end of the campaign, they saw a 25.5% increase in the number of GMI products in consumers’ baskets compared to the two months prior.

Enticing new brand purchasers with bonus incentives

In addition to growing their portfolio share, General Mills aimed to bring new shoppers to their brands, tapping into a pool of redeemers who hadn’t previously purchased items in multiple categories. They made a strategic decision to run more than 20 unique offers at the same time, giving shoppers a chance to save more than $15 —  with a bonus for buying 4 or more brands.

“We know it’s not easy to get consumers to switch to a new product — much less to continue purchasing that product long term,” Glaser said. “But armed with the right data, we were able to develop winning strategies, leveraging the IPN’s unique ability to influence consumer behavior in some really tangible ways.”

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Over the duration of the campaign, General Mills saw a dramatic increase in the percentage of redeemers who were new to the category. A whopping 92.9% of redeemers bought a General Mills product in a category they hadn’t previously purchased in prior to the campaign. 

The effects persisted in the weeks following the campaign, too. In the first half of September alone, 21.1% of redeemers continued to purchase General Mills products in a category that was new to them, demonstrating brand loyalty that lasted even after the promotions stopped running.

Increasing share of wallet across categories

Complementing their efforts to entice new brand purchasers, General Mills leveraged the IPN to increase wallet share across all their product categories. Across eight categories, General Mills’ total category purchases experienced a 24.4% average increase during the campaigns, with the most impressive gains seen in the yogurt, refrigerated dough, and frozen apps categories.

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Winning the Back-to-School moment

In partnering with the Ibotta Performance Network, General Mills successfully captured new brand purchasers, despite already being a household name. Most importantly, they were able to achieve their goal of increasing portfolio share, setting them up for greater success in generating brand loyalty and cross-portfolio product awareness.

“We’ve used the success of this Back-to-School campaign to build a playbook for future seasonal initiatives,” Glaser said. “By building on the lessons we’ve learned and partnering with Ibotta to gain deep insights into our customers’ behaviors, we’ve been able to replicate that success and continue winning during key seasonal moments — like our Return-to-School campaign this past January.”

Zooming in on incremental sales

Following the success of their Back-to-School campaign, General Mills partnered with the Ibotta Performance Network to activate a second, more targeted campaign. This time the spotlight was on Totino’s and driving incremental sales to the brand.

“Accurately measuring incremental sales has traditionally been a real challenge,” Glaser said. “By partnering with Ibotta, we were able to narrow in on one brand and easily prove the success of this campaign in driving incremental sales. This has given us valuable insights into how to develop future campaign strategies and make the most of our promotional offerings on the IPN.”

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In total, the Totino's campaign saw a 34% redemption rate and an 85% incremental sales lift — clear proof of the offer’s impact.

To measure incrementality, Ibotta leverages two different machine learning models that essentially estimate what would have happened without an offer. The models are fed data from Walmart linked account sales trends in the pre-campaign period and take into account seasonal trends, holidays, previous campaigns, and even similar product trends to create an accurate control group. Once the campaign is running, we’re able to measure the lift in incremental units sold compared to that modeled control. 

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Drilling down into the data, not only could General Mills see the direct impact of their campaign on incremental sales but they could also see that nearly half of those redeemers were new to the brand. Of that 47% of new redeemers, 29.2% had exclusively purchased from General Mills’ competitors in the two weeks prior to their Totino’s campaign. 

By tapping into incrementality with the IPN, General Mills was able to prove out the impact of their campaign and gain a better understanding of the types of marketing strategies that can build loyalty and successfully draw consumers away from the competition.


Joining the IPN has enabled General Mills to unlock near-immediate results with greater return on ad spend. And with a range of offerings that allow brands to activate on both the portfolio and brand levels, Ibotta can serve as a strategic partner for maximizing your marketing spend and achieving specific brand objectives.

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