Segmentation, Category Dynamics, Concept and Taste Tests, Market Evaluation….

for Ajinomoto

Objectives of research:

  • to define a winning brand strategy and proposition for the UK market;
  • and develop a bring to market category and channel strategy;
  • meeting consumer needs, shopping occasions and missions;
  • with a fully tested and optimised range of frozen ready meals to suite UK palates.

What we did:

  • shop safaris in store, accompanying and interviewing shoppers in Tesco, Sainsburys, Asda to understand how shoppers perceive the category, their triggers, barriers, how they navigate and categorise ready meals according to occasion, price-value perceptions, provenance, palate, affinity and attributes associated with the word ‘Japanese’;
  • blind taste testing a series of client recipes benchmarked to competitors, recording visual, olfactory, taste and textural elements of each dish, cooked and served on site; and exploring brand propositions based on provenance, ingredients, portions, eating occasions, cooking / preparation process, in store locations – ambient, chilled or frozen;
  • created a series of visualised and verbally articulated brand concepts, range and packaging designs to submit to quantitative screening drills, sentiment analysis and conjoint price evaluation, plus a complete U&A and segmentation study based on perceptions of Japanese food, propensity to purchase ready meals and shop the frozen aisle.

Who: Consumers were grouped into segments based on ready meal purchase and consumption habits, spend and attitudes towards food provenance, health, ingredients and cooking skill. We identified “investors” in cook from scratch kits and related to ready meal plate compilations, who they are, how they live, where they shop, how they choose, what they know and understand about food provenance and flavours, what their household needs are, their purchase occasions, triggers, heuristics and biases.

What’s happened since?

Ajinomoto focussed its strategy to deepen and broaden distribution in 2 UK retail chains. It modified the packaging design and recipes to respond to the UK palate, and its experiential proposition to meet the pragmatic needs of consumers for frozen ready meals.

Highlights of the project?

Ruth: I got to work with the brilliant marketing team in Ajinomoto’s French office, to use my creative skills to produce and submit a new improved brand proposition for testing in the UK, which proved stronger and fitter both for the UK, and for improving traction in Europe. The original proposition developed by the client needed to undergo significant changes before the brand could successfully be launched in the UK and I hope, from those findings, that we helped Ajinomoto to avoid a false start in its ambitions to launch into this market and gave it a greater chance of success.

Client: I loved working with Ruth. I hope we get to work together again soon.

Ruth worked on this project in conjunction with Bridgethorne.

Ajinomoto is just one of a line of similar projects encompassing sensory testing as well as full launch strategy which Ruth has led, including:

  • Beiersdorf*
  • Friesland Campina*
  • Clarins
  • Costa Coffee
  • Wella
  • Burtons Biscuits
  • Fisher Price

In association with Bridgethorne*