My Childhood with Frozen Meals
Growing up I was constantly told, “Don’t stare at the microwave…it’ll make you go blind.” My mother hated cooking and developed a heavy reliance on ready-to-eat frozen meals to feed my sisters and I when we were younger. Therefore, I spent a lot of time next to the microwave waiting for dinners to cook.
The older I got, the less I could tolerate the frozen dinners I had been raised on. The flavors were bland, the meats were chewy and the noodles were soggy. Nothing about dinner was exciting anymore. I promised myself I would never buy frozen food for myself in adulthood.
Flash forward to my mid-twenties and I largely kept my promise. I put myself through a crash course in cooking – thank you, Pinterest – and only visited the produce and fresh meat sections of my local grocery store. I managed to avoid the frozen food aisle for years until I went shopping with a friend. After weaving through my typical aisles, I followed them into the freezer section so they could pick up Halo Top and suddenly I no longer recognized the food around me.
Innovation in the Freezer Section
I stopped to take in my surroundings. No longer was the frozen aisle the same meat and potato meals separated only by their varying levels of gravy and sodium – the aisle I swore off transformed into an assortment of global flavors and all-natural alternatives. Newer brands like Evol now offer international spice blends in their meals
(Chicken Tikka Masala and Korean BBQ Chicken to name just two.) Established brands like Healthy Choice and Lean Cuisine are also serving up more interesting meals – often with natural ingredients and less sodium.
This might go without saying, but I’m shopping in the frozen aisle again. I’m no longer embarrassed to toss a frozen dinner into my cart. I don’t fear that my friends will think I’m unhealthy for eating frozen. I don’t have to forgo flavor because I don’t have the energy to cook dinner. Innovation has brought me back to being a frozen meal consumer.
I’m not alone in this – according to Mintel, prepared food shoppers are seeking both improved health and more exciting flavors than the frozen food shoppers of the past. And thankfully, food manufacturers have listened: by keeping the consumer at the heart of a brand’s innovation strategy, companies can learn to delight their customers and grow their businesses.
Here at Ipsos, we pride ourselves on being experts at bringing innovation to every aisle in the supermarket. We partner with brands large and small through the entire stage gate process. Beginning with ideation, our expertise can help to preheat your innovation pipeline, enabling you to cook up the tastiest propositions to bring to market. By keeping the consumer at the center of your strategy, you can prevent your aisle from freezing over.