Frozen Meals: Innovation Is Vital

frozen meals

Nicola Ball, Shopper Insight Manager at IGD, explores why businesses should continue innovating in frozen meals.

The frozen food category has taken a back seat recently, with retailers focusing on expanding their range of fresh and chilled products. However, shoppers of frozen food are more likely than the average grocery shopper to be open to purchasing new and different products (47% vs 39%), so continued innovation is vital to drive category growth and prevent shoppers from leaving the category.

Frozen meals, in particular, is a category where shoppers are looking for variety. Some 23% of frozen meal shoppers claim that on their last trip, the range was too small for their needs. To effectively fulfil frozen meal shoppers’ needs, we need to understand what is important to them.

Many shoppers are cautious about the future economic outlook and anticipate food price increases, so as we would expect, price remains the most important purchase driver across most categories, including frozen meals.  However, to prevent value decline and to effectively meet shopper needs within this category, you can’t rely solely on price.

Delivering on quality expectations

Value to shoppers does not just mean cheap prices; you must also consistently deliver great quality.  Currently 25% of frozen meal shoppers find it difficult to find high quality products, versus a grocery average of 21%. A shopper-led segmentation and clear price tiering will help make it easier for frozen meal shoppers to find more premium products.

You should also consider how your product range can help to improve quality perceptions. Clearly communicating quality credentials on pack, premium packaging, or using new ingredients and flavors, could all help to convey quality. Taste/smell is the joint second most important attribute to frozen meal shoppers, so use of language and imagery that appeals to shoppers’ senses will be effective in any communication. Recent IGD ShopperVista research revealed that for 38% of grocery shoppers, better flavor helps them identify a product as being higher quality. Do you understand exactly what quality means to frozen meal shoppers? 

The role of brands

The brand is more important to frozen meal shoppers than the average grocery shopper (33% claim it was important on their last trip against an average of 25%). Innovation under a well-known master brand is likely to resonate with shoppers, especially if you can provide a point of difference from other products in the market. Clear brand blocking will ensure that those shoppers looking to get in and out quickly – which is 52% of frozen meal shoppers – can easily find the product they are looking for and therefore optimize category conversion in-store.

Shopper demand for healthy products

Health remains on the agenda for many grocery shoppers; of the 49 categories that we capture in our ShopperVista research, frozen meals rank 11th for shoppers feeling it is important to have a healthy option.  As awareness and knowledge of health increases, shoppers are likely to continue to demand a choice of healthy options within the frozen meal category.

There are several different ways that you can help shoppers follow heathier diets, with many shoppers looking for visibility around what is in the food they are eating and where the ingredients come from. IGD ShopperVista research found that 72% of shoppers believe that too many foods have added ingredients, making them unhealthy.  Iceland is addressing this concern in its new-look Clapham store. There are multiple opportunities for innovation in the frozen food category, if you can effectively meet shopper needs.

For further information on frozen food shoppers, or to keep up to date with the latest shopper trends, visit