NFFA, ALCOTT GROUP TEAM UP FOR CONSUMER STUDY

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The National Frozen Food Association's retail council here is conducting a consumer study to determine why the frozen food department is growing at a slower pace than the rest of the grocery store."We want to understand consumer shopping patterns and do some consumer intercepts to learn why they shop frozen foods, how they perceive them, and what we can do to capture more sales,"

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The National Frozen Food Association's retail council here is conducting a consumer study to determine why the frozen food department is growing at a slower pace than the rest of the grocery store.

"We want to understand consumer shopping patterns and do some consumer intercepts to learn why they shop frozen foods, how they perceive them, and what we can do to capture more sales," said Pat Brooks, frozen- food/dairy/deli director at Save Mart Supermarkets, Modesto, Calif., and NFFA retail council chairman.

Called "Understanding the Frozen Food Consumer," the study, coordinated by NFFA in cooperation with the Alcott Group, a Chicago-based consulting firm, will examine the frozen-food consumer in depth.

In-store and home interviews will be conducted, along with a central test, which will ask consumers from eight to 10 markets to complete several tasks and a questionnaire.

Participants will be observed and interviewed in-store and at home, where researchers will also inventory participants' freezers, according to Skip Shaw, president of NFFA here.

"As a trade association, we want to come up with a unified platform from which the industry can act," said Shaw. "We need to find out what the consumer likes and doesn't like, and what we can do in areas that need improvement."

Some of the objectives of the study include gathering consumers' perceptions, shopping behaviors, and preferences; identifying strengths and weaknesses of frozen versus nonfrozen categories; quantifying behaviors and attitudes that can lead to potential new food messages; and determining how frozen foods can play a role in meal-solutions merchandising.

Some of the results from the study may be released at the NFFA and American Frozen Food Institute's annual show, to be held in October in Orlando.

The study is being sponsored by several manufacturers and retailers, including Harris Teeter, Publix Super Markets, Save Mart Supermarkets, Spartan Stores, Wegmans Food Markets and Winn-Dixie Stores.