Innovative marketing program is spiking frozen seafood sales

By teaching consumers how easy it can be to cook frozen fish at home, some United States retailers are seeing a significant lift in sales.

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) “Cook it Frozen!” initiative, originally launched in 2001, has recently fueled new sales of frozen seafood, a category that, overall, is only growing slightly in U.S. grocery chains.

“Consumers can keep frozen Alaska seafood products on hand in their freezer and have healthy, delicious meals anytime in as little as 15 minutes,” Linda Driscoll, retail marketing manager for ASMI, told SeafoodSource.

For National Seafood Month in October, ASMI’s Cook it Frozen demos promoting cod and salmon from Alaska are taking place in around 12 retail chains across the Southeast, Northwest, the Rockies, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest states.

The October demos follow on the heels of a profitable series of Cook it Frozen demonstrations at more than 5,000 in retail locations across the U.S. during the 2016 Lent and summer seasons. The in-store demos and promotional materials generated an average 40 percent sales lift of the featured frozen Alaska fish portions for all stores.

“ASMI has worked with almost every one of the 20 largest retailers in the U.S. to promote the Cook it Frozen techniques. We have a network of personal chefs we use to execute the in-store demos for many retail partners; other retailers have their own demo staff [or] teams,” Driscoll said.

The comprehensive marketing program is more than demos, though. ASMI trains retailers on everything they need to educate customers about the Cook it Frozen! techniques and provides recipes, point-of-sale (POS) materials, cooking videos and other information. ASMI also helps retailers create their own ads by providing logos, recipes, attractive food photography and copy assistance via its online digital asset library.

In addition, ASMI recently enlisted help promoting the Cook it Frozen program from a YouTube star popular with millennials: iJustine. She teaches viewers how to make baked Alaskan cod from frozen in this video.
“Seafood buyers at retail are busy. Any programs that help make their job easier – and are easy to execute – are welcome,” Driscoll said. “Frozen seafood is one of the fastest-growing retail seafood categories, and with high-quality, portion-controlled frozen seafood from Alaska, there’s no waste, no shrink, and no need to slack product in order to sell it.”

ASMI started the Cook it Frozen initiative in 2001 when frozen Alaska seafood portions – many of them private label – were gaining traction at retail.

“The Cook it Frozen techniques were developed not only to support frozen Alaska seafood products but to provide convenient, healthy meal options to today’s time-starved consumers,” Driscoll said. “There’s no need to thaw – so no preplanning is required – and the Cook it Frozen techniques provide easy-to-follow instructions and lots of great recipes.”

Since 2001, the organization has conducted thousands of in-store demonstrations with retailers across the country, often with a co-op partner (such as a wine or spice company) in order to extend the budget for these in-store sampling programs, Driscoll said.

“There has also been a sustained consumer advertising and public relations effort behind Cook it Frozen techniques,” she said.


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