April 29, 2011, 3:23 PM

General Mills gives Groupon a try

The offer quickly sold out by 11 a.m.

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General Mills last week launched its first foray in the daily-deal space by offering packages containing 12 General Mills products, such as Fiber One bars and Fruit Roll-Ups, along with a $15 coupon book for General Mills products, for $20 on Groupon.

The deals sold out by 11 a.m. after reaching a preset cap of 5,000 packages.

General Mills says the deal, which it offered consumers in Minneapolis and San Francisco, represented the first Groupon offer by a major consumer packaged goods manufacturer. Groupon typically offers discounts to local merchants such as restaurants, car washes and salons.

“This really shows Groupon’s utility,” says a spokesman for Experian Hitwise, a web measurement firm. “When a consumer packaged goods manufacturers finds a way to sell in the space, the possibilities are endless. They could even use Groupon to launch new products.”

A General Mills spokesman says that it is evaluating its initial test and exploring potential opportunities for future offers.

On the day of the deal, Groupon’s traffic rose 18% compared to the same day in the previous week. While that traffic is not limited to Minneapolis and San Francisco, the spokesman says that consumer interest in a single prominent deal in one or a few markets, like the General Mills offer, often has a significant  effect on daily-deal sites’ overall traffic.

Moreover, Groupon’s share of traffic in Experian Hitwise’s rewards and directories category—which includes daily-deal sites, coupon sites, directories and retailer loyalty program sites, had a 20% bump in comparison to the previous week.

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