Author: Christine Blank
Gorton’s, one of the largest frozen seafood manufacturers in the United States, is rolling out new products and marketing initiatives timed to spur sales during the important Lenten season.
The Gloucester, Massachusetts, U.S.A.-based supplier’s recently launched national TV and digital campaign features fishermen and “authorities of the ocean,” such as Poseidon, who agree that Gorton’s is the trusted source for quality seafood.
Chris Hussey, vice president of marketing for Gorton’s, spoke with SeafoodSource about the new product launches, as well as the company’s expectations for the Lent selling season.
SeafoodSource: Which new products are Gorton’s launching this year?
Hussey: We’ve introduced a new Simply Bake Shrimp Scampi item nationwide, adding to our successful Simply Bake product line. This chef-inspired Shrimp Scampi is Gorton’s take on an Italian classic one would order at [his or her] favorite restaurant. However….it comes in a “Bake Perfect Oven Bag,” which makes it incredibly easy to prepare at home. Simply pop it in the oven and the shrimp cooks to perfection while the bag locks in flavor for a perfectly cooked meal every time. The Simply Bake Shrimp Scampi was initially launched to a limited universe in 2017, but expanded much more broadly in January 2018, after seeing strong results in earlier markets. New markets have similarly gotten off to a strong start with the item turning well.
We’ve also launched new Shrimp Bowls in January, available in three varieties: Shrimp Black Garlic and Wine Risotto, Chili-Lime Rice and Beans, and Stir Fry with Soba Noodles. The single-serve bowl is the ultimate convenience for consumers, with no need to even dirty a plate. The products were developed specifically for the microwave to give consumers a seafood meal they can enjoy in minutes. These items have been building distribution and early signs are very good for hitting strong turn levels. We expect Shrimp Bowls to drive incremental growth for Gorton’s and the category by expanding into both complete meal solutions and microwaveable prep, allowing consumers to enjoy the goodness of seafood at lunch or away from home.
We’ve also expanded our growing line of Seafood Appetizer items, including Potato Crusted Cod Bites and Shrimp Mac and Cheese Bites. We’re excited to bring these innovations to market to provide meal time solutions for consumers and increase seafood consumption. The Potato Crusted Cod Bites and Mac and Cheese Shrimp Bites first launched at one retailer as a limited time rotation in fall/winter 2016. Based on a successful rotation, these items were expanded to new customers this past fall and January 2018.
SeafoodSource: What initiatives have Gorton’s put in place to boost sales during the Lenten season? How do you expect these programs to help spur sales?
Hussey: Consumers really have a lot of choices when it comes to quick and easy meals. Our biggest order of business this Lent, and beyond, is to focus on initiatives that ensure that consumers are thinking of frozen seafood and Gorton’s when they are planning their dinners. And we have a number of really exciting initiatives in place to help drive that top-of-mind awareness.
One of the more exciting for us is our national TV and digital awareness campaign featuring our trusted fisherman and a number of other seafood experts. In these entertaining spots, a variety of experts of the sea share what they love about our products and why only Gorton’s is “trusted by those who know seafood.” We are in the midst of the campaign and, so far, the response has been very positive. We are also partnering with a number of important online influencers, letting their fans know about our quality products in addition to providing delicious meal ideas and recipes.
SeafoodSource: The Lenten season starts earlier this year and is timed with Valentine’s Day. Do you expect that to help Gorton’s sales during the season?
Hussey: In the past, the seafood category has generally benefited from a later Lenten season – but we are seeing a few trends that show promise not only for a strong early Lent but also for a robust year in prepared seafood sales overall. Coming off the holidays, consumers are often a little more focused on healthy diets, including seafood. Moving seamlessly into Lent and seafood-focused promotions fosters top-of-mind presence that can truly benefit category sales.
SeafoodSource: Does Gorton’s expect a stronger Lenten season in 2018, compared to last year?
Hussey: Overall, the frozen seafood category does generally see a rise in sales each Lent and Gorton’s spike is typical of that category increase. [However] at Gorton’s, we understand that consumers increasingly want to be eating seafood all year round as part of a balanced diet. As a result, in 2017, we moved to more of a year-round strategy of consumer support, cultivating our brand and category with consumers and, in particular, had a fair amount of support in the fourth quarter.
Along with giving us the ability to support all of our winning product lines, this “always on” strategy has helped keep frozen seafood and Gorton’s top of mind leading into Lent. That, we believe, is going to translate into more consumers at the shelf and a really strong Lent season in 2018.