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What is the Future of Cross-Merchandising Refrigerated and Frozen Foods?

The Future of Cross-Merchandising Refrigerated and Frozen Foods
New Seasons Market features shelf-stable cheese crackers atop the refrigerated olive bar

Grocers are already providing simple, complete meal solutions and bundling complementary items from across the store to sell more refrigerated and frozen foods, but what’s next in cross-merchandising such products? Discounts and holiday-themed programs promise to be popular strategies.

“Cross-promotions for prepared meals and/or sides will be big,” predicts Jeff Nelson, VP of client development at Boise, Idaho-based Impact Group, a national sales and marketing agency that works with 700-plus CPG brands, who is also a member of the board of the Harrisburg, Pa.-based National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association. “According to Mintel, 38 percent of consumers bought frozen side dishes, and 42 percent of consumers bought refrigerated side dishes in the past six months. And 27 percent of consumers use prepared entrées with home-cooked side dishes, and 33 percent of consumers use prepared side dishes with home-cooked entrées.” Offering savings on the various components of a meal – frozen, refrigerated and shelf-stable – should spur even more shoppers to buy them.

Additionally, Nelson believes that “cross-promoting for events, such as the Super Bowl, barbecues and holidays, will win big.” The reason for this, he explains, is that “[c]onsumers are already busy and stressed during the holidays. If retailers can offer them easy solutions to fulfill their needs to satisfy their guests, they will buy! An example for a Super Bowl promotion would be chips, dips, chicken wings, ranch or blue cheese, crackers, meat-and-cheese platters, and veggie trays all bundled together and on display.”

Beyond that, what’s needed is a whole new approach, according to Cindy Sorensen, founder and CEO of The Grocery Group, in Minneapolis.

“With the increased interest in frozen foods, I believe we will see more features and displays throughout the store,” notes Sorensen, who goes on to caution that “displaying them throughout the store isn’t enough for today’s consumer if a solution for using them isn’t provided. This will require a 360-degree approach which includes pre-shopping, in-store and post-shopping experiences to create awareness, trial and repeat. It will require retailers and manufacturers to provide engagement with consumers through social media and website messaging in the pre-shop experience. This messaging will showcase how to use frozen products in recipes and meals. In-store communication will include sampling and recipe ideas to promote incremental sales at point of purchase. The post-shopping experience will be important to promote repeat of the products and can be done through a retailer’s website, app, e-newsletters and social media.”

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