WAYS FOR RETAILERS TO GET CONSUMERS TO FROZEN
MAKE NAVIGATION EASIER It’s not enough to stack freezer cases with products – no matter how attractive they may be — and hope that shoppers come down the aisle. Retailers should ensure the frozen section is easily navigable, and should keep end cap freezers stocked with a variety of teaser items as to what else is available down the aisles. If necessity is the mother of invention, there are other inventive ways to bring needed traffic and sales to the frozen section. Improved lighting and case design can help, but the big change that needs to be made is for the frozen case to be easier to shop – to make it even easier to browse, so shoppers can discover products that are new to them. Grocers can also bring frozen foods to other areas of the store, and some brands can help them do just that. It’s all about creating an immersive, engaging experience, coupled with a completely Instagrammable moment.
2 OFFER A BIGGER MIX AND A DIFFERENT
MIX OF PRODUCTS Frozen food companies should continue to roll out innovative products, invigorating the category. So, new product development is critical and companies need to get an idea of the upside potential of innovation. Retailers can look at some imported frozen products that are greattasting and can also be good profit generators for the retailer. As many innovations are happening in frozen foods, manufacturers can look at introducing a new line of products in natural and organic frozen offerings, which can ramp up the choices for consumers.
GO WITH A THEME As grocers seek to influence sales in frozen foods, they can use resources offered by manufacturers and industry organizations for addressing the perception of fresh versus frozen foods. Many of the major manufacturers are eager to promote their frozen food products and supermarkets can take advantage of this fact by making the frozen food aisle a focal point and featuring those items that are already being promoted by the manufacturers who can offer point-of-sale materials, artwork and consumer information to help retailers build their promotions.
4 ENGAGE CONSUMERS WITH OFFERS
AND MATERIALS Although special offers and point-of-sale materials aren’t new, grocers can use them in strategic and creative ways to entice shoppers to take a fresh look at frozen. Compared to other departments, coupons, promotions and the requests made by others in one’s household are all key triggers to entice frozen food purchases before consumers are even in the store. Conversely, product recommendations, advertising and digital influencers are less likely to have an impact in this category. Therefore, a combination of coupons and in-aisle placement/messaging could hone in on the pre- and in-store triggers that matter most to frozen food shoppers. From a merchandising perspective, grocers should improve on digital media to attract more Millennials. Consumers demand quick and easy meal solutions, and may not see how frozen foods can fit into last-minute meal planning. The solution lies in offering ideas for pairing frozen items with other foods and beverages in the store. In developing messages for offers and materials, grocers can take advantage of the tools at their disposal. One way to drive traffic to the frozen case is for retailers to use the purchase data from their loyalty programs to identify those households with a high likelihood to buy certain frozen products, and then team up with manufacturers of those products to offer very high-value coupons targeted just at those customers.
GIVE THEM A TASTE Sampling, too, can be taken to another level. Supermarkets could host tasting events that feature sampling across the frozen department, where shoppers can nosh on products and learn more about them. Sampling is an effective tool, especially with consumers that are not fully persuaded to buy something, even though it may be a food item they are familiar with, until they actually taste it. With a wellorchestrated demo and sampling area, a store can increase shopper knowledge, boost sales and increase traffic.
Our vision is to be the preferred first choice supplier for all our customers’ requirements and our mission is to attain market leadership in our business areas by creating customer delight through value, innovation, and service.
— Sulabh Jain Executive Director, Solitaire Drugs and Pharma Pvt. Ltd (Food and Beverage Division)
We have a 360 degree approach across mediums to engage consumers and will also offer various promotional and merchandizing material at the point of sale to create brand visibility and awareness.”
The better-for-you trend in frozen is also visible in a slew of gluten-free and free-from claims, which are delivering sizeable shares in frozen foods. Many new gluten-free and free-from products have been added to grocers’ cases in recent years – from gluten-free frozen appetizers and sandwiches to new gluten-free pizzas, among many others. “Vezlay food products are widely used by the health care industry and our products are popular among diet cafes and gym-going youngsters. Vezlay Foods is the first Indian company to introduce innovative food products such as gluten-free pure soya noodle, celli and soya vegget. We have launched soya celli and veg meat in the non-frozen segment. In the frozen segment, we have introduced marinated soya tikkas in different flavors. Our brand packaging is being appreciated by our clients and customers. To give our products a unique touch, we follow the international standards and parameters for packaging too,” says Laxman Dass Bajaj, Director, Vezlay Foods.
Some frozen food brands are helping grocers connect to their vegan or plant-eating consumers with innovative entrées and sides. For instance, Solitaire Drugs and Pharma Pvt. Ltd (Food and Beverage Division) has introduced new innovative products based on market study and demand. “We have introduced frozen manchurian balls, frozen broccoli, frozen onion rings, frozen veg momos, frozen veg seekh kebab, frozen veg mini samosa, frozen falafel and some other new products. We believe that packaging plays an important part in selling and it should be attractive and provide safety to the product. We have gone in for a three-layer packaging for our products comprising tray pack with top sealing, printed duplex sleeves and shrink wrap,” says Avnish Kumar Jain. On its part, to ensure product quality in the cold chain, Chevon, too, has taken to triple packing and vacuum method for its frozen products.
Carnivore, which sources its meat products from the industrial markets in Rai and Ghazipur, uses international quality instruments for running a more efficient temperature control system for its products. “After importing raw meat, we use a hygienic double wash treatment method to clean it. The first wash is done using a chemical solution of chlorine and the second wash is done using the water from our RO plant. Our company uses chemicals that are approved and recognized by an international standard. We maintain hygiene standards along every step of the production process and use methods that are approved for meat processing,” says Anil Sawhney who is looking to start a franchise down south. “About 4045% of my produce sells in the retail sector whereas the rest is sold via a distributor network. As most of meat trade that happens in south India is via modern trade, I am also looking to set up a franchise for the region.” Various studies in recent years have proved that the nutritional value of many frozen fruits and vegetables is generally equal to that of corresponding fresh items. Additionally, the amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C and folates in some frozen fruits and vegetables were discovered to be higher than those of fresh stored produce. “The growing acceptance of western food and the need for on-the-move freshly-cooked food are the key levers for creating a demand for this convenience category in Indian homes. The increasing penetration of frozen category, from the deep-freeze displays at retail shops to home refrigerators, is also an outcome of the proactive initiatives taken by brands to give a product tasting experience to ensure awareness about the product, and the usage of their products, which highly influences the consumer purchase decision,” says Nair of SPAR Hypermarkets. According to Chandrakant of Chevon, “The customer adoption of frozen products has begun its journey from the Sec A&B, category towards multiple categories and is already the norm in a few categories like French fries. etc (you don’t buy fresh French fries now). There is also a growing shift toward global brands
We are among the pioneers to introduce the frozen concept in seafood. We fly in Atlantic Salmon from Norway to ensure sushi quality fresh fish. We are the only ones in the industry doing Modified Atmospheric Packaging (MAP) for our products, which ensures freshness at the kitchen level. — Shivam Gupta Director-westcoast Group & Ceo-cambay Tiger
(due to the look and feel factor) across a majority of categories. However, when it comes to fresh and local delicacies, local brands enjoy a strong preference over global brands. Strictly speaking, there is no ‘perishable’ barrier impeding the growth of global brands in these categories but still local tastes play an important part in consumers’ preference for local or global brands.”
Hot promotions for cold products
There’s a plethora of new offerings in the frozen food aisle: ethnic flavors, organic, vegetarian, and unique fruit and vegetable varieties. So how do products merchandised in the frozen food section fit into customer-focused solutions, interstore connectivity and profitability? According to Nair of SPAR, “Innovation is the key to success in this category in India where every State has a diversified way of food consumption. So, brands have to be dynamic enough to regionally connect with the consumers according to their tastes and preferences and by engaging consumers through product tasting. In addition to this, brands should create awareness among consumers by educating them on usage and support retailers on infrastructure/assets as they are cost productive”. A survey done by Nielsen reveals that promotion planning for frozen products needs to be very purposeful to ensure that promotion support is used to drive incremental volume to benefit both manufacturers as well as retailers. This aspect of frozen foods’ promotion assumes added significance given the fact that there exist big differences in shopper types and consumption patterns across different regions of India. Even within population segments like Millennials, there are differences in age, income, health and family status that dictate the need to examine more granular segments to understand shopper demand and respond accordingly with the right offering, merchandising and messaging.
“Retailers must differentiate the commodity products in frozen and co-invest in building multi-x sales rather than expecting only higher margins from commodity frozen products. Investment in display freezers, making the category attractive for more consumer walk-ins coupled with consumer engagement activities on frozen v/s fresh are some ways to unleash the potential of the category. Technology has a critical role to play at levels including the supply chain, logistics, product management and finally the front-end distribution. We have recognized this and are investing heavily in multiple cohesive systems,” avers Chevon’s Chandrakant.
“India still has a long way to go in accepting frozen foods as the norm in certain categories. We like to partner with our retailers for campaigns and activities that increase the awareness of frozen foods. We need more shelf space allocation for frozen products and more support from retailers to educate the customers about frozen foods,” opines Shivam Gupta of Cambay Tiger. His views find ready acceptance with the manufacturers of frozen products. Most agree that there exists a wide gap in the need for educating consumers on using frozen food. Most consumers are only comfortable using frozen peas yet. But this attitude can be overcome by educating the consumer on fresh and packaged seafood and assuring them that it works in a similar way like frozen peas and tastes as great as fresh fish or any other sea food which they buy from the market. Creating awareness through education will help to change long held attitudes and lead consumers to believe in the product.
While retailers need to increase shelf space for the frozen products, it is also imperative to maintain an optimum temperature for frozen foods and to give the right information while selling or handing over the product to the first time user. Thankfully, in recent years, the shelf space for the category is certainly increasing with the education and exposure of the consumer but it needs to be pushed further. “In the frozen food category, the major problem arises when it comes to temperature control during transportation and maintaining a hygienic environment around the product. Other than that, we see a stubborn market trend wherein customers are more price-fixated. Regardless of a person’s economic class, he/she almost always chooses to buy loose meat instead of something packed and processed due to the price factor. This disregard for quality and hygiene is alarming and detrimental to the frozen food business,” observes Anil Sawhney of Carnivore.
Frozen food players agree that it is important to keep introducing new and exciting products in the market to ensure that the category stays vibrant. “Our company has an in-house R&D team tasked
We make authentic quality products at an affordable price besides also supplying to the markets in the European Union and North America. With our base in Leicester, UK, investing in India seems to have happened at the right time for my food exporting company. — Nainesh Patel Owner, Farsan Foods
with introducing new products and finding consumer demand gaps in the market. We do a lot of BTL activities and wet sampling to improve the awareness of our products and to grow the market. But when it comes to achieving a pan-india scale for our products, a significant investment is required to invest in ATL and BTL activities and to push the product further. We have kept our options open to raise the investment. We are also inviting investors or partners to grow this industry,” says Sulabh Jain of Solitaire Drugs and Pharma (Food and Beverage Division).
Considering how India is growing in terms of its purchasing power, unlimited exposure and increasing curiosity about food among people, especially the younger generations, the growth and development of the frozen foods category is not in doubt. But frozen food brands should not just focus on innovation and offering good quality products to the consumers although both play a crucial role in garnering the end user’s attention. However, innovation should not be happening in terms of product only but also figuring out new ways to reach the end consumer rather than relying on the traditional approach. “We collaborate with the retailers through our B2B plan. We have one-on-one meetings with them. Also, we participate in various events like AAHAAR and many other trade events to expand our products’ consumer base. As we are more into the HORECA segment, there is a huge possibility for improving the cold chain. I believe technology can help us reach our customers much faster through adoption of SEOS, apps, mass media targeting through e-marketing and other ways. We are using these methods, which have definitely helped us to increase our sales volume significantly,” says Yogesh Grover of Empire Foods.
“We participate enthusiastically in retailer events, often as the seafood sponsor. The on-ground festivals are many a times replicated online. Besides, we engage with customers with widespread sampling activity and promotions in stores. Online, we constantly engage with the customers and use dialogue to better our offerings and services. Seafood is very nascent in India as compared to other food categories and understanding its nuances is going to take a lot of conversation between the customers and ourselves,” says Shivam Gupta of Cambay Tiger.
Those in the industry say they understand the challenges as they seek to bolster sales of frozen entrées, snacks, breakfasts, produce, desserts, meat, seafood and other frozen foods. In recent years, generating some heat in the frozen food section has been the goal and focus of many frozen food manufacturers, retailers and industry groups. As consumers are becoming increasingly well informed and aware of frozen products, they know what they want and companies will have to build their portfolio around their needs. While products will have to stand out on taste profiles, the companies will also have to ensure that the products suit the consumer’s modern lifestyle and food habits. On the other hand, frozen ingredients can be great time savers, because the cleaning and chopping are already done. Retailers can marry the benefits of frozen foods with those that are better for the planet. Frozen foods can also be more easily portioned and stored for later use, which reduces spoilage and food waste, further increasing its value.
Vezlay Foods is the first Indian company to introduce innovative food products such as gluten-free pure soya noodle, celli and soya vegget. We have launched soya celli and veg meat in the nonfrozen segment. In the frozen segment, we have introduced marinated soya tikkas in different flavors. — Laxman Dass Bajaj Director, Vezlay Foods