Birds Eye has joined forces with UK supermarket chain Safeway. The alliance marks a continuing effort to overcome consumers’ negative perceptions of both frozen food products and the frozen food buying experience. If they are able to shift perceptions it may lead to renewed scope for premium frozen products.

Birds Eye Walls will devote £1m (US$1.6m) of its marketing budget and draw upon Unilever customer research in its attempts to improve the image of frozen food in supermarkets. The trial will take place at Safeway’s St Albans, Welwyn Garden City and Clacton stores.

The activity can be seen as complementary to Birds Eye Walls’ £18.3m ‘Fresh Look at Frozen’ campaign announced in March this year. The campaign has already produced new launches as well as a detailed focus upon creating appealing packaging for consumers.

Birds Eye has outlined the aim of the trial as creating “a warmer shopping experience”. This is an important aspect to address. The frozen section of a supermarket can be an unappealing part of the shopping occasion. Freezer doors can become unclear and frosted, hands get cold and consumers face problems getting the products home and storing them.

Whilst this latest alliance is crucial for addressing the frozen food shopping experience, the bigger challenge is to overcome negative consumer perceptions of frozen food.

The greater interest in higher quality and more adventurous foods made available through fresh convenience meals is hampering the growth of frozen foods. Consequently, the category has been littered with product failures and price cuts, particularly from those seeking a premium positioning.

It is likely that there will be numerous promotional messages in the coming months attempting to re-educate consumers about the benefits of frozen food.

Core frozen food consumers are responsive to the cheap and cheerful image, so there is an argument for frozen food companies to channel marketing efforts towards these consumers. However, if this new concentrated marketing campaign proves successful then both Birds Eye Walls and the frozen food category stand to significantly benefit. The move could also herald a new trend of manufacturer and retailer alliances.

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