Retailers urged to know customers


Mercedes Grandin, SeafoodSource contributing editor

Published on
March 18, 2009

When it comes to helping retailers market their seafood products, Warren Thayer, editor of Refrigerated and Frozen Foods Retailer, has a few tips he's accumulated from his years of experience.
Thayer spoke at this week's International Boston Seafood Show, examining several recent reports on seafood that reveal key retail trends.
One 2008 study by Information Resources, a Chicago-based market research firm, examined seafood sales in U.S. retail outlets, excluding Wal-Mart. IRI numbers showed that unit sales were down for refrigerated seafood and frozen fish, but up 1.2 percent for frozen shrimp. Dollar sales were up 4.9 percent for frozen fish and 3.1 percent for frozen shrimp, but down 2.4 percent for refrigerated seafood.
Despite tough economic times, grocery shoppers continue to spend an average of USD 91 (EUR 67.50) per week on food, with half using coupons. Many shoppers are seeking out private label products, sale items and fewer luxury foods.
"In this economic climate, it's never been more important to know your shopper," Thayer said.  
According to a fourth-quarter 2008 Catalina Marketing study surveying 1,300 stores, 2.6 percent of shoppers accounted for 54.3 percent of all frozen breaded seafood sales, and 4.6 percent of shoppers accounted for 63.6 percent of all frozen non-breaded seafood sales. When looking at specific brands, Catalina reported that in the fourth quarter of 2008, 6.16 percent of shoppers made up 80 percent of Gloucester, Mass.-based Gorton's total sales.
The same 80 percent sales rule was true with only 1.9 percent Van De Kamp shoppers, 1.2 percent of SeaPak shoppers and 1.2 percent of Mrs. Paul's shoppers.
"Seafood consumers are a tightly focused group, and if you can identify them and [entice] them properly, you stand to make some serious gains in sales and profits," Thayer said.
Thayer offered some tips to create effective promotions:
• Drive multiple sales and target high frequency shoppers through cross-promotion and cross-merchandising
• Provide meal deals and promote price when you truly have a price story to tell• Promote health benefits and provide clear sourcing information
• Consider new species that can be sold at competitive prices
• Have a good value proposition for the products that matter the most to your best customers
"Your job as a retailer is to have the right product, right time, right place at the right price and right promotion. To do that, you must know your seafood shopper," Thayer said.

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