Gorton’s leans into air-frying fad with new products, marketing campaign
Gorton’s has started off 2023 by launching new products and initiating a major marketing campaign.
The Gloucester, Massachusetts, U.S.A.-based seafood firm is seeking to capitalize on changing U.S. seafood-consumption trends by positioning its frozen products as versatile, value protein options, according to Gorton’s Vice President of Marketing Jake Holbrook, who was recently named Gorton’s vice president of marketing, following the retirement of Chris Hussey.
To do that, Gorton’s is looking to the increasingly popular air-fryer – which cooks food with hot air instead of oil, resulting in 50 percent less fat content – as a vehicle for customers preparing its products in a healthier but still tasty way. After first announcing the products in 2021, Gorton’s began selling its new Air Fried Fish Fillets and Air Fried Butterfly Shrimp in retailers nationwide in early January 2023. The products feature Alaska pollock fillets and responsibly-sourced 100 percent whole tail-on butterfly shrimp lightly seasoned with panko breadcrumbs
“Over the last few years, interest in air-fried food has skyrocketed, so we wanted to develop products that deliver the taste and crunch that today’s consumers are craving – all while maintaining the quality that people expect from our brand,” Holbrook told SeafoodSource. “We’ve seen air-fried products in other adjacent categories drive incrementality for both the brand and category, and as the frozen prepared seafood leader, we wanted to bring this benefit to our consumers.”
Consumers are also always looking for new ways to mix up their mealtime routines, and Holbrook said the new products provide “endless” meal options. Gorton’s research found that air-fryers are consumers’ second most-popular method to cook frozen prepared seafood, but to accommodate all customers, the products come with cooking instructions for both air-fryers and ovens.
“We’re excited to deliver a way for all consumers – even those who don’t own an air-fryer – to enjoy the benefits of light, super-crispy breaded seafood via our new Air Fried Fish Fillets and Butterfly Shrimp,” Holbrook said.
The Air Fried Fillets are available in a 15.2-ounce bag for a suggested retail price of USD 8.99 (EUR 8.38), while the Air Fried Butterfly Shrimp is sold in a 9-ounce bag, also priced at USD 8.99.
Coinciding with the Air Fried products’ launch, Gorton’s and its agency Connelly Partners began a new integrated marketing campaign on 6 February. The ad campaign is supported in part through Gorton’s longstanding partnership with Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP).Gorton’s is unveiling the new products via social, influencer, paid social, and shopper channels, as well as through connected TV and online video, according to Holbrook. The campaign’s YouTube video touts the new products as being “light as air,” super-crispy, and never greasy.
While declining to reveal the company’s recent sales results, Holbrook said the supplier’s outlook for this year remains positive despite economic headwinds.
“We’ve seen consumers react positively to the great taste, versatility, and meal-time variety that seafood provides,” he said. “Seafood stacks up well in comparison to other protein options and ‘checks the box’ on what consumers are looking for today.”Still, consumers’ inflationary concerns are “real,” Holbrook acknowledged, so the company will “remain focused on delivering the best possible value through our product and channel strategies.”
“Our core breaded and battered business has proven to be resilient to inflationary pressures, in part because of our unmatched assortment. We offer larger pack sizes at a great value for consumers who want to stock up, along with other retail items for smaller households,” Holbrook said. “Combined with distribution across club, retail/mass, and value channels, this gives Gorton’s a unique ability to allow more consumers to enjoy the benefits of seafood.”
Gorton’s ‘It’s Seafood Time’ consumer education program touting seafood’s nutritional benefits and recipe suggestions, launched in 2021, has helped the supplier maintain annual category and brand growth, Holbrook said.
“We remain committed to driving the category within the broader easy-prep meal space,” Holbrook said.
It’s Seafood Time was designed to “ensure that each new consumer had a positive experience and understood how seafood could, and should, become part of their weekly meal plans moving forward,” Gorton’s President and CEO Kurt Hogan told SeafoodSource in March 2021.
“We pivoted quickly to focus more on recipe inspiration and showing consumers how they could easily use our products in their favorite dishes, right out of their freezers. We felt it was important to provide consumers with the confidence and inspiration to cook seafood in the comfort of their own homes,” Hogan said.
Photo courtesy of Gorton’s