MIAMI — Several grocery chains are experimenting with a new way to promote their refrigerated and frozen products: via streaming videos on their websites.
Through a free service for members of the National Frozen and Refrigerated Foods Association, Bashas', United Supermarkets, Ingles Markets and other chains have been running a series of recipe videos on their sites.
In the “Cool Chef” series of 12 two-minute videos, a woman instructs consumers how to prepare quick meals from refrigerated and frozen foods. Then, consumers can click on the video to print the recipe and print out a list of ingredients to take into the store.
“The videos take consumers from browsing to buying,” said Julie Henderson, vice president of communications for NFRA, Harrisburg, Pa.
“What better way to promote refrigerated and frozen foods than accessing it through your computer? You can print a recipe out while you're watching [the chef on the video],” said Gary Spinazze, vice president of vendor relations for Nash Finch Co., Edina, Minn., which is running the videos on all of its banners' websites.
Ten of the videos provide instruction on preparing dishes, another video promoted Frozen Food Month in March, and one promotes National Dairy Month during June.
While some retailers only added the video series to their websites in late March, there have already been 6,000 click-throughs across 24 different websites.
“We're very happy with the number of people using it. It was so new, we didn't know what to expect,” Henderson said.
More consumers are going online to figure out what to make for dinner, Henderson explained.
In fact, 92% of Baby Boomers are using the Web to get information, and 73% shop online, according to the Center for Media Research, New York.
However, many retailers are still not using their websites and email marketing programs to build shopper loyalty, said Kerry Brix, executive vice president and partner, MarketMetric, Austin, Texas, which produced the videos and technology for NFRA. He spoke at the recent FMI Advertising/Marketing Executive Forum here.
Typically, the recipes section of supermarket chains' websites are the top one or two most visited sections of the site, Brix said. “You can tie that in to a lot of different product offers. There are a lot of things you can do.”
Manufacturers can support advertising on websites and in emails, just like they do for in-store promotions.
“Why aren't you asking manufacturers for money for this?” Brix said. In addition, grocers should ask manufacturers to provide content for their websites, such as streaming video that educates consumers on how to prepare foods from recipes.
Grocers can also be more progressive with their email marketing programs, taking cues from other supermarket companies and manufacturers.
Purina's Kittenwise email program, for example, tracks the age of the member's cat and sends reminders, health tips and other information monthly. “This is the kind of thing people share,” Brix said.
H.E. Butt Grocery Co. has been so successful with its Central Market Foodie e-newsletter that the chain has now crossed over into travel offers in this newsletter, Brix said.
A Martha Stewart Living e-newsletter integrates interactive advertising. “You click on a Scotch-Brite ad, and you get a [Scotch-Brite] landing page. Click on an offer, and it takes you to a registration page to build a database,” Brix said.
“Don't look at email as spam. Look at it as a way to dialog with your customers, and include ‘forward to a friend,’ weekly specials, recipes, and wellness and nutrition information,” Brix said.
Email is also a “great way” to promote community events and tickets, because people buy tickets online, Brix said. “Replace costly direct mail with permission-based email,” he advised.