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Ready or Not, Here They Come: Holger and Max Break New Ground.

Latest market segmentation pitch by Langnese Iglo in Germany targets gays. Aim is to attract "prosperous homosexuals" to new line of frozen meals and boost turnover.

The German market for frozen ready meals is so fiercely competitive that for the first time in the history of German TV a gay theme is being used to promote a food item.

In what is described as "the biggest advertising campaign ever for a deep frozen product," Langnese-Iglo has introduced Holger and Max to promote its new "Vier Sterne" range.

And Frosta has revamped its ready meals package. In both cases it's part of an effort to win back territory the traditional food stores and brand names have lost to the discounters and home delivery services.

Holger and Max, who live together, appear in spots in which Max deftly handles the cooking spoon with swinging hips and chirps "essen ist fertig!" (That, meaning "dinner is ready," is now the "Vier Sterne" slogan.) The fellows also appear in print media and give culinary tips on a website: www.holgerundmax.de. Holger is a dealer in art books, Max a dancing instructor, and both are well off and refined in their tastes. Singles are just the type, along with working women, who are responsible for Germany's ready meals boom.

"Vier Sterne" is the range under which Iglo of Hamburg (Fax: 49-40-35972445) last year consolidated most of its ready meals. (The company's "Vivactive" vegetables and fish meals remain separate items.) Frosta did likewise, bringing together most of its ready meals under the "Dinner International" range.

Iglo sees little risk in the Holger and Max campaign. Spokeswoman Ute Sievert, interviewed by the magazine w&v (werben und verkaufen), cited surveys showing little negative reaction in the German public to the idea of prosperous homosexuals.

Despite Iglo's considerable efforts, Frosta of Bremerhaven (Fax: 49-471-9736145) continues to be the leader in ready meals. It has revised the packages for its "Dinner International" and "Filet di mar" fish dishes and vegetable pans. In all cases the descriptive text is to the left and to the right, beyond a wavy line, is a picture of the product as it will look when served. Formerly the whole front of the package was taken up with the product picture and text mixed together.

Frosta has also introduced a new slogan: "Frosta. Das schmecht mir" (roughly translated, "Frosta. I like it"). And it has slightly revised its stylized fish logo. There used to be three balls and a vertical line, looking more or less like a clover, at the upper right. This has been replaced with a single ball.

Like Iglo, Frosta advertises its ready meals with TV spots, ones featuring a chef named Peter von Frosta. Peter, who also appears on the packages, formerly promoted only the "Dinner International" products, but now he has also been brought in to sell "Filet di Mar" items, along with his Italian friend Luigi.

So far this sort of effort has made Frosta the market leader, but Iglo is determined to win away some of the market share. It claims that its current campaign is not only the biggest in the company's history, but also four times as big as that of any competitor.

The reason for all this effort is plain to see. The sale of frozen ready meals and menu components continues to boom. The Deutsche Tiefkuhlinstitut (DTI) of Cologne reports that 1999 sales volume came to 347,435 tons for an increase of 5.9% over the previous year. The percentage increase in the household packages was even greater, showing a 9.3% jump in volume to 182,010 tons.

Despite the great tonnage increase, turnover is way down. Research from ACNielsen shows that the average price per kilogram of ready meals dropped from DM 10.82 in 1993 to only DM 7.90 in the most recent survey.

Thomas Bruneforth, Langnese-Iglo's marketing-manager for Bread Snacks and Meal Solutions, lays the blame for the tumbling prices on the huge Aldi chain of discount stores and the home delivery services. These, he said, have a disproportionate share of the ready meal market.

The traditional retailers, according to Nielsen, have a market share of 65.3% of the entire frozen food market, while deep discounter Aldi has 14.9% and the home services 19.7%. In frozen ready meals, however, Aldi holds a 21.9% share and the home delivedry services a whopping 33.6%. The producers of the big brands want to fight back.

Bruneforth explained the philosophy behind the "Vier Sterne" range to the magazine Tiefkuhl Report. The overriding problem with ready meals, he said, is that the customer doesn't feel they taste as though they were homemade. This gave rise to the four principles represented by the "four stars,:" namely selected ingredients, fine sauces, preparation in the frying pan if desired and short preparation time.

The sauces contain ingredients like Riesling wine, cream and mozarella cheese, while eschewing artificial taste enhancers. And they come in small pellets, which the customers find pleasing, and which avoid the lumpiness problem. Customers often like to prepare the product in a pan, which gives them the opportunity to individualize things with their own meat, vegetables and spices.

Other problems are a lack of variety, and a lack of trusted brands. The market, said Bruneforth, is seriously fragmented, with 95 brands and private label, and displays too much "me too-ism" in the product offered. He cited Nasi Goreng and Paella as examples of a frozen ready meal everybody seems to put out. Not Iglo. You won't find any "Vier Sterne" Nasi Goreng and Paella. Even Iglo's popular chicken fricassee has been discontinued in favor of a chicken ragout with a Riesling wine sauce.

Iglo seeks to have all "Vier Sterne" products displayed side by side in the cabinets, accompanied by point of sale advertising. The suggested retail price for all products is DM 5.99, with packages varying in size from 400 to 650 grams and meant to serve two persons.

Trends in the ready meal sector reflect current tastes; including a growing interest in foreign foods, the fitness movement and, of course, the BSE scandal and foot and mouth scare. They are heavy on vegetables, fish and poultry. Foreign foods concentrate on recipes from the Mediterranean and Asia. But the great success of Frosta's Sudstaatenpfanne (spareribs with vegetables) shows that the recipe, not geography, is the main factor. (Sudstaatenpfanne translates as "Southern States Pan," by which is meant the American South.)

Frosta's "Dinner International" products are portionable, and come in 750-gram bags. The house brands also lean to the 750-gram bag. Frosta's "Filet di mar," which comes in a smaller package, has also been getting some attention. In addition to the successful tomato-basil and mustard-onion varieties, it has recently added spinach-cheese and paprika-herb. The company is also promoting pasta dishes as ready meals.

Frosta claims to have improved the ingredients in its "Steakhouse Pfanne," a "Texas meat dish" of potatoes, ground meat and crisp vegetables. Other popular "Dinner International" dishes include Paella, Indian Chicken, Nasi Goreng and Gyros.

A new "Vier Sterne" product from Iglo is "Vegetable Chili" with potatoes, kidney beans, paprika and a fiery chili sauce. Other dishes in the line have included Asian Wok Vegetables, Risi Bisi, Potato Pan "Country Style" and "Grill Vegetables with Potatoes."

RELATED ARTICLE: Alli Logistik Delivers for Nestle Motta

Alli Logistik GmbH & Co., Hannover, has taken over transport management in Germany for Nestle Motta in Schwanewede. From a central warehouse in Hollenstedt, Nestle Motta serves central and regional warehouses of the German retail food industry along with large distributors and individual sales outlets. Some 5,500 deliveries a year involve more than 45,000 Euro-pallets that have to be processed physically and electronically.
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Title Annotation:Langnese Iglo markets frozen food line to homosexuals
Comment:Ready or Not, Here They Come: Holger and Max Break New Ground.(Langnese Iglo markets frozen food line to homosexuals)
Author:SHOEMAKER, TED
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Jul 1, 2001
Words:1294
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