Case Study

Frozen Food Manufacturer Seeks to Increase Share in Key Growth Channels or in Club/Dollar Stores


Frozen food sales surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, and retailers took note. One frozen foods manufacturer in particular saw the surge as an opportunity to grow its business in key growth channels, like club and dollar stores.

Before approaching club and dollar retailers with category opportunities, the company needed to first understand what drives purchases of frozen products at these particular channels, as well as barriers to buying. The manufacturer hoped that understanding shoppers’ needs and pain points would allow them to optimize their product offerings and enhance key retailer partnerships.

C+R developed a robust research approach to help our clients generate new opportunities in this channel.


An Unexpected Growth Opportunity

As frozen food sales surged, a large frozen food manufacturer saw an opportunity to expand its business in key growth channels like club and dollar stores. From the outset, the company understood that “value” is a key reason why shoppers opt to shop club and dollar channels but needed to understand value dimension beyond price.

The manufacturer also recognized that bulk sizing is important to club shoppers but suspected that larger packages have downsides as well. To optimize their product assortment, the company wanted to better understand specific motivators, trade-offs, and pain points related to bulk sizing.

Additionally, given the explosive category growth that took place in the height of the pandemic, the manufacturer (and its retail partners) wanted to understand how to retain new category buyers and sustain heightened category sales beyond the pandemic.


Understanding Club and Dollar Store Shoppers

C+R designed a multi-phase research approach to gain a deep understanding of the frozen category in club and dollar channels. 

First, the team conducted qualitative research to understand the drivers and barriers to shopping key categories in club and dollar stores vs. other channels.

Webcam interviews explored a range of topics, including:

  • How shoppers “do the math” when shopping for frozen foods at club and dollar stores
  • What on-pack communications signal value-related benefits
  • Drivers and barriers of shopping for key categories in each channel 
  • Nuances around specific shopping dynamics such as seasonality and “treasure hunting”

Subsequently, researchers conducted a quantitative survey to confirm and dimensionalize the behaviors observed in the qualitative research – profiling consumers’ channel behaviors, clarifying elements that attract shoppers to the category at club and dollar stores, and identifying opportunities to influence shopping.

The online quantitative survey enabled us to capture shoppers’ last purchase occasions of a frozen product across three different frozen food categories at different key retailers to understand:

  • Pre-shop planning and triggers
  • Drivers of retailer choice
  • Perceptions and performance of club/dollar channels
  • In-store influencers and browsing behaviors
  • Post-purchase consumption and usage patterns
  • The impact of the pandemic on shopping habits

The result

Mutually Beneficial Opportunities

Our research covered a lot of ground. A few of the key learnings and associated action steps included an understanding of:

  • The many ways in which shoppers assess value. Findings included which promotions and value-oriented messaging shoppers find most compelling.
  • Common drivers and barriers to category conversion in these channels, which allowed the manufacturer to align their messaging strategy – focusing on the outcomes that consumers value most and connecting with shoppers in a deep and motivating way.
  • Opportunities to drive retention of new category buyers through assortment optimization, merchandising refinement, and category innovation.

The ways in which bulk packages of frozen foods in the club channel both delight and frustrate shoppers. This information helped the manufacturer strategize targeted solutions to alleviate consumer pain points and thereby motivate brand choice.

  • How to drive both planned and impulse purchasing through an enhanced understanding of the shopping process- including triggers, motivations, decision-making, and points of inflection.

All these elements helped the manufacturer craft compelling sell-in stories by aligning shopper insights with retailer challenges to identify mutually beneficial opportunities and drive results.

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