“Our new campaign is about getting back to who we are in terms of creating an authentic experience with food and people you love,” and Mrs. T’s is doing that with a new tagline and focus on “this notion of ‘Stuffed with the stuff you love,’” LeeAnn Smulligan, director of marketing for Mrs. T’s, told FoodNavigator-USA.
“Often times when you talk to people about pierogis, it comes along with an experience that they already had – whether that was being introduced from a friend who grew up on them” or trying them for the first time at an event, she said.
“So, we are trying to play on that emotional connection with this notion of ‘Stuffed with the stuff you love’ to mean not just the food and fill of the pierogis, which is very popular among our consumers, but also stuffed with the stuff you love means the people you are enjoying them with. So creating that experience that consumers are looking for,” she said.
One way the brand has done this in the past is by sponsoring the events, such as a concert series at Hershey Park, or the hometown team the Pittsburg Pirates.
“We haven’t laid out our plans for 2019 yet, but we do anticipate some more of those experiential events where consumers can enjoy pierogis as part of the event,” which in turn might prompt them to consider the potato-filled pockets for another event or meal at home, Smulligan said.
In addition to events, the new campaign will focus on both conventional and new media as a way to reach younger consumers without alienating older loyal shoppers, she said.
“We are looking at this campaign as more of an evolution and trying to balance between the traditional tactics, such as FSI, and still have coverage there because we know that we do have consumers for whom those tactics are important, traditional radio, FM stations, but we also are balancing that with an investment for new, younger adults with digital partnerships, such as on Pandora radio or social media,” she said.
“We really are just trying to insert ourselves in consumers’ daily lives whether it is through conventional media or by making sure we show up in their digital search when they are searching online for ideas to make dinner that evening,” she said. “We want to be everywhere the consumer is so that they say, ‘how about pierogis? Or why not pierogis?”
The brand also is the process of overhauling its website to be a better resource for consumers to find product news, ideas about recipes and the versatility of pierogis, Smulligan said. “We have updated the website to include the look and feel of the current campaign, but it is an evolution for us. So weare going to look at the website a little harder and really dive in and understand how consumers are shopping recipes, what is important to them and then incorporate some of those changes with another relaunch of the website later this year.”
Frozen is emerging from a slumber
The campaign is launching at a time when the once flat frozen category is starting to re-awaken.
“While frozen was relatively flat for two to three years, in the last six to eight months we have seen frozen start to take off a little bit,” with a 1-2% lift in total US growth, “which is pretty big considering the size of the category,” Smullligan said.
Part of this growth is coming from a changing consumer perception of the segment.
“In frozen, we have worked really hard as an entire category to get consumers to understand that just because it is frozen, doesn’t mean it is bad for you. And often times, it is actually better for you than some of the other items available,” Smulligan said.
She also explained that the segment is attracting younger consumers who see frozen food as a quick, convenient and yet whole way to feed their families and the people they care about.
“We are seeing in our data that a lot of the growth is coming from lifestyle changes. So, these consumers are getting into the life stage of having children or having busy careers and they are looking for alternatives that can satisfy their needs and also bring a little bit more convenience,” she said.
An expanding consumer base
In response to the shift in who is shopping frozen, Smulligan said that Mrs. T’s is expanding its target demographic.
“Traditionally, we have focused heavily on younger millennials, but we have started to transition and evolve to be more inclusive of young adults that are both enjoying down time with their favorite people, whether friends or family, and those young adults who are starting to have children in the home,” she said.
This is reflected in two of the new videos. Both feature people gathered around a table eating Mrs. T’s pierogis, but one features a more traditional family of four, including two parents and two young children, and the other shows a table full of adults all roughly the same age but of different backgrounds, signifying they are friends.