Food Forum: Scooping up customers

While Frozen Food Month offers an opportunity to kick start ice cream sales, the category needs year-round promotion.

By Penny Baker

Ice cream suppliers, like those in any grocery category, need to drive retail sales up by creating consumer interest and one of the most effective ways to do that is to use Frozen Food Month. However, the category deserves year-round promotion from retailers, including flyers, coupons, point-of-sale collateral and recipe contests.

Frozen Food Month offers both retailers and ice cream suppliers the opportunity to jumpstart consumer excitement for the category. When they partner to take full advantage of the promotional opportunities available, for instance, by including pricing promotions and creating special displays and merchandising on end caps, they can inspire consumers to make purchases or to try new products.

The most successful promotions are ones which have a benefit for the consumer or which reward the consumer for a specific action. Here are a few suggestions for ways retailers and suppliers can use promotions to best effect: 

Point-of-sale material

Tear pads, door hangers, freezer clings, and other point-of-sale (POS) promotions can boost attention to your overall promotional campaign. Use tear pads to distribute recipes that utilize the products being featured in the promotional campaign. Consumers will then be inspired to try a new product or to purchase a favorite flavor to use in a new way. Offer the consumers meal solutions to make their choices easier.

Displays, merchandising and placement

During a big national promotion such as Frozen Food Month, many brands and categories will be vying for attention, so it’s especially important to catch the consumer’s eye with attractive displays, signage, and carefully chosen merchandising on end caps. Thoughtful groupings of products that might provide serving suggestions, go together in recipes, or offer convenient preparation will help the consumer make decisions.

Secondary placement can definitely benefit a promotional campaign. Naturally, the more often consumers see your products and your supporting materials, the more likely they will be to purchase. But securing secondary placement for frozen foods such as ice cream can be challenging. If possible, place a small freezer in a prime location.

Reward your customers

Partner with your supplier(s) in offering turnkey mini sweepstakes that provide prizes and rewards for customers. Give away a year’s supply of ice cream using a free-standing display in the frozen food section. A simple “enter-to-win” drawing is easy to manage and convenient for your customers to enter. Feature the promotion in store ads and circulars as well.

Speaking of store ads and circulars, make sure those categories are prominently featured regardless of a contest or sweepstakes. Many shoppers are making their purchase decision prior to entering the store. So it’s important to reach those who are pre-planning their shopping trips from home and are making lists.

Store flyers and coupons are key tools for list-making. Offering store coupons, where permitted, is also popular with consumers, since it has an immediate impact on their grocery receipt. Work closely with your suppliers on when they will be scheduling special offers or circulating ads with coupons in free-standing inserts.

Keep the shelves stocked

One of the most basic but often overlooked elements for a successful promotion is to keep the product on the shelf and in stock at all times. Shoppers are squeezed for time and money. They don’t want to be disappointed to find an out-of-stock situation after all the excitement that has been generated by the promotion.

Whatever promotional vehicle you choose to boost ice cream sales, it’s important to assess how effective your tactics are. Begin by looking at per-unit sales two weeks prior to the campaign’s beginning, then sales during the campaign, and finally, sales for two weeks afterward. If you have sustained sales in the post-promotion period and you see an uptick, you have a great Frozen Food Month. When retailers and suppliers work together on seasonal or special promotions, successful results can easily be obtained.

Penny Baker is director of marketing at Smith Dairy Products Co., the Orrville, Ohio-based manufacturer of a full line of dairy, beverage, ice cream, and foodservice products. She can be reached at 330-683-8710 or

This entry was posted in 2010 03 Article Archives, Columns. Bookmark the permalink.