Market Analysis: The Frozen Category

We love our jobs here at Marketing Sciences and can often be found wandering round supermarket aisles lost in our thoughts about products, packaging and shopping! We thought we’d share some of these recent musings regarding the Frozen category as we believe it is a really exciting time for Frozen with a huge opportunity for growth and NPD.

Frozen has traditionally been seen as the poor relation, situated (necessarily) at the end of the shopping journey, when you’re tired and ‘shopped out’, full of low cost produce, not necessarily the highest quality. But we think this isn’t true any more, there are so many exciting new products in Frozen that deserve to be seen…

So what do we think are the golden opportunities for the frozen category?




Laura Ablett

Laura Ablett – NPD Specialist, @laurajablett


A key ambition for many brands in the frozen sector, should be to continue steering the consumer mind set towards frozen being ‘acceptable’, in terms of both quality and health (perhaps excluding desserts!).  Being such a heavily promotionally driven category probably doesn’t help consumer impressions of frozen, as it in a sense devalues it. On a more positive note, the recent endorsement of ‘frozen’ by various celebrity chefs has been a great way to improve impressions and consumer belief that it really can be ‘as good as fresh’, however, manufacturers need to keep re-playing this message. At the moment, many consumers may rationally respond to say Frozen is as good as fresh, but do they truly believe it?


Chris Peach – Head of Packaging & Design, @packagingChris


Within the frozen aisle, packaging faces even more challenges than normal. The need to store product in freezers presents difficulties from a shelf impact perspective. Upright freezers most likely mean glass doors which will mist up obscuring your pack, while chest freezers mean you have to approach it and look down into it to see the pack, making it even harder for a pack to disrupt a shopper’s auto-pilot.

We eat with our eyes (so to speak) and experience shows a tasty looking visual works a treat at encouraging a shopper to buy. This is useful in frozen since the actual (frozen) product isn’t especially appetising looking, unless of course it’s ice-cream! But in some cases we do want to see the product itself. In categories like frozen meat and frozen fish it’s important to gauge the size of individual portions – if I’m buying 4 individual fish fillets I want them to be a fairly consistent size, not 3 above-average sized fillets and one tiny one.

In frozen, packaging designers also need to reflect on where their consumer will store it and with freezer space at home often at a premium, any packaging needs to make efficient use of space. Most freezers are square, so boxes or square tubs minimise wastage space, but round tubs might not be so efficient. Many frozen products are multi-serve (peas, chicken portions, fish fingers etc), so a pack which will reduce in size as the product is gradually consumed can be appealing since, not only do they take up less and less space, but they also easily communicate when it’s time to add it again to your shopping list.

Deborah_Hall  Deborah Hall – Shopper Expert


From a shopper perspective, the Frozen category faces a number of challenges and has different requirements to many other categories in store. It is a “colder” category, not only from a temperature point of view, but in terms of the low proportion of shoppers who visit the frozen aisles during their shopping trip.

This low footfall can partly be explained by the fact that shoppers are not being lured down the aisle by the products themselves as they are hidden behind closed doors or buried in deep freezers. In addition to this, many of the sub-categories have such a bewildering number of SKUs (many of which are seen as the same and interchangeable), that shoppers often buy off promotional ends (where they assume they are getting the best deal) to avoid going down the aisle completely.

For Frozen, POS and signage therefore have a huge role to play in terms of flagging the aisle, tempting shoppers to venture down it and aiding navigation. For those who do make it into the aisle, it is essential to get the range offered right (by delisting SKUs deemed unnecessary), in order to reduce confusion and make their shopping experience as easy as possible.



In summary, there are exciting times ahead for Frozen, with lots of creative ideas and suggestions for new products, improved packs and changes in-store to create a much more inviting environment. Should Frozen be interspersed throughout the store? Where are the opportunities for new products? How can we entice shoppers down the Frozen aisle? What is the best packaging for my new Frozen product? We really understand Frozen and would love to chat about how we can help you!

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Becki Arnold
01962 842211
Article date - 20/04/2015
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