How to Compete in a Revived Frozen Food Aisle

Don’t call it a comeback, but recently frozen foods are having a big moment in the retail spotlight. That’s because CPG companies have started to offer more nutritious selections and interesting varieties beyond the typical processed frozen entrees and snacks. As CPG Matters points out, Nielsen has found that “U.S. sales from the freezer case advanced by 2.1 percent for the year ended in November… while unit sales were also up, by 1.2 percent.” This seems to be due to the influx of new items including plant-based alternatives to pasta and rice, meatless and organic products, and more exciting entree options. This also means that brands need to be even more diligent about how they take these new concepts to market. As frozen foods categories become more diverse, they also are becoming more competitive. Packaging and placement are even more important than ever when it comes to catching shoppers’ attention.

As frozen foods manufacturers innovate their products, so should they innovate the ways they test and make decisions on how those products will look in stores. Leveraging technology, such as 3D store simulations, can make this process faster and easier than ever before, while actually saving on costs. 

Get a read on new packaging concepts

Thinking of reworking the look and feel of a product to stand out more among the competition? While the concept might be great, you’ll need to make sure it will get noticed by shoppers first, or risk spending unnecessary dollars. For example, using our virtual store software at InContext, we had one frozen foods manufacturer looking to do a package redesign to see if it could save them money while still maintaining or increasing sales.

  • They quickly were able to test three different virtual scenarios with real shoppers, while mining both attitudinal and behavioral data through simulated shopping exercises and online surveys afterward.
  • After finding that sales would drop with the changes, the company was able to save over $500,000 in redesign and production costs, as well as the risk of a significant loss in revenue. 

Test new center-aisle marketing strategies

There’s a lot going on in the freezer section, and shoppers can get easily get frustrated and overwhelmed if they can’t find what they’re looking for. On the flip side, there’s also a huge potential for impulse purchases within frozen foods, with the right kind of shopper marketing concepts. 

In a recent article from FMI, American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) CEO Alison Boder put it this way:  “If we can connect all shoppers with in and out-of-store triggers, we can optimize the frozen food purchase – for example, through recipe ideation, coupons and shopper education. Shoppers in our research also asked for improved organization and signage, which will help with impulse and planned purchases.”

Signage and displays will play a large part of driving the growing frozen section. So it only makes sense to leverage VR store simulations to develop new marketing initiatives in a risk-free space. For example, a manufacturer decided to create a range of signage concepts by modeling them in 3D and placing them in store aisles with the virtual store platform, ShopperMX™. Each version was presented to retail executives through virtual store walk-throughs for feedback, and visual attention analysis (VAA) was applied to store images to explain which concepts best captured the shopper’s eye.

  • Leading concepts were selected for validation based on executive feedback and VAA analysis. These concepts were tested with a ShopperMX™ Signage Indicator.
  • Referencing the sales and shopper impact data collected from ShopperMX™ Indicators, the executive team made a speedy decision about which signage strategy would meet their goals.
  • Units per buyer and sales for key center of store categories increased within the first 12 weeks following the signage campaign implementation. 

Stepping outside the box and using innovative technology to turn heads and make a splash in the burgeoning frozen food section should be a no-brainer. ShopperMX makes it easy to do just that. 

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