Building a LÄRABAR legacy
A decade has passed since LÄRABAR joined General Mills and founder Lara Merriken says the brand has grown far beyond her original vision.
“Ten years later, I’m thrilled to say that LÄRABAR continues to delight and enliven our consumers,” says Merriken, who remains with the brand as creative director. “While LÄRABAR has grown and continues to produce new and innovative products, it also remains true to its core values and roots, offering a delicious, yet simple, whole food option for people to enjoy.”
Michele Meyer, now president of our Snacks operating unit, was the president of our Small Planet Foods group, when it bought LÄRABAR in 2008.
“LÄRABAR was at the forefront of the real food movement. Lara had a passion that she turned into a business. She literally created the first bars in her blender and sampled them at the local Whole Foods store in Denver, Colorado. Her story is incredibly inspiring, and her intuition helped create what today is an entire movement into real food for consumers,” says Meyer.
“Our goal is to lead in real food and own the space of simplicity – two to nine ingredients that you can see and recognize. We have built the business over the past decade from the ground game, making personal connections with our consumers who have become our ambassadors and advocates over time,” says Courtney Hamacher, business unit director for LÄRABAR.
The brand hasn’t changed the product formulation or the packaging except for minor tweaks over time.
Hamacher adds that growth has exceeded expectations, especially these last few years, as consumers have continued to seek more real food, and LÄRABAR is able to deliver it in a simple, portable package.
General Mills had just entered the natural and organic industry with Muir Glen and Cascadian Farms when Merriken went seeking a buyer for LÄRABAR.
Merriken was authentic, passionate and had a really well-run business and General Mills wanted to learn from her and her team.
“Lara and her colleagues truly accelerated our entry into the natural and organic industry, and how to speak to consumers there. They taught us how market to unique consumer groups, and how to truly understand what it was to have a passion for a lifestyle and a set of beliefs about food,” Meyer adds.
LÄRABAR’s unique, one-to-one direct marketing was applied across Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, and later with Food Should Taste Good.
“Not only has LÄRABAR been a success, but it’s created a huge, huge legacy that’s far bigger than its actual size,” says Meyer.