Schwan’s embraces omnichannel ‘in a retail everywhere world,’ launches DTC frozen pizza offering
Packaged with dry ice and “100% recyclable material,” the DTC pizzas will arrive to consumers in two days or less from the purchase date, Nag explained. Currently, Fresechetta pizzas are available in its original gluten-free, brick oven, naturally rising, and thin crust with several topping options, and Hearth & Fire's oven brick pizzas come in either cheese, pepperoni, mushroom, or margherita.
Showing up where consumers are
The DTC launch responds to changing consumer habits around digital channels, which includes, “finding more ways to shop than they [had] before,” Nag said. For Schwan’s, that means it needed to “show up in the places that [consumers] spend their time,” he added.
“Historically, we looked at our business through separate swim lanes, and there's channels for this, and channels for that. And what we know now is that we live in the retail everywhere world. It’s simple as that.”
Building out DTC one community at a time
To meet consumers where they are, Nag said Schwan’s first looked at its portfolio of products, which includes frozen pizzas, desserts, and other food items, to find what category might have the most need for a DTC option. The company “found a need pretty quickly” for DTC within its pizza category, focusing on the celiac community first, Nag said.
"It's a very stringent community; one that has high expectations of what really gluten-free is, and this resonated with them. The problem we saw though is that these consumers, while they loved our gluten-free products, didn't always have access to our gluten-free SKUs."
Nag also noted that Schwan's identified a group of consumers interested in craft pizza, which was the genesis of its “digitally native brand,” Hearth & Fire. “There's a community of people out there that really care about craft-quality pizza with super premium ingredients,” he added.
With these communities in mind, the company focused on “the nuances of logistics, figuring out the costs, [and] all of the rest,” through a series of targeted pilots in specific regions. The R&D team also focused on ensuring products are shipped safely and in accordance with food safety standards, he added.
Using the DTC blueprint to expand digital offerings
Looking to the future, Schwan’s hopes to take what it learned from these DTC offerings and come up with new ways to meet the consumer where they are, Nag said. To do that, the company will use the same approach of listening to consumer feedback and using it to build out its digital capabilities.
One way that Schwan’s incorporated consumer feedback into its DTC offering was with its 100% recyclable packaging, which Nag admitted came from the feedback they received from the pilot study.
“It really is about reverse engineering things from the perspective of that end consumer to figure out how we engineer something that serves them better. You'll see that show up a lot hopefully as the year goes on, and this is just the start.”