Strong Roots – how to make a line of frozen vegetables even more successful

Strong Roots is a frozen vegetable and chip brand, which positions itself as premium, healthy, and innovative. It was launched in Ireland in 2015 and later tapped into the UK, currently distributed by all major supermarkets minus the discounters.

The brand line-up comprises unconventional frozen vegetable products, including vegan-friendly frozen fries, wedges, veggie burgers, vegetable bites, and fruit (avocado halves). Using a multi-answer steer, we asked our consumer community, which of the products they would buy:

‘Garlic roasted sweet potato’ is the most preferred option in this steer, followed by ‘oven baked sweet potato’. In general, there is higher preference to options with whole pieces of vegetables rather than the more processed bites and burgers. ‘Ripened avocado halves’ comes last, indicating perhaps that consumers might prefer to buy fresh avocado and ripen it at home. Frozen brands should aim to offer practical solutions and consider that consumers might opt for fresh fruit and vegetables if they represent better value for money.

Taking the top option, we tested it individually for consumer acceptance, in order to be able to look into the attitudes of certain consumer groups, such as vegans and vegetarians as opposed to committed carnivores and omnivores. We asked 509 consumers whether they would buy the product, and 80% of them responded positively:

As shown above, this steer enables us to compare the responses of the whole panel with a subset of it, in this case, 220 consumers who describe themselves as either committed carnivores or omnivores. The percentage of acceptance in this group was even higher – 82.4%, which confirms that the product range appeals to a wide group of consumers who follow different diets. Vegetable cubes, fries and wedges could be served with meat dishes, while burgers and bites could be treated as meat substitutes. Strong Roots has thoughtfully positioned itself as a general frozen vegetable brand rather than specifically targeting vegan or vegetarian consumers, despite the fact that all its products are vegan.

Claims and product information are extremely important for brands like Strong Roots. We ran a series of ‘split by description’ steers to test four relevant claims against each-other. In each steer identical product was shown to two separate groups of consumers, along with a unique claim for each. First we tested two couples: ‘developed with chefs and restaurants’ – ‘non-GMO’, and ‘high nutritional value’ – ‘ready to heat then serve’. Having obtained two winners, we then tested them against each-other as a final step, the result of which is shown below:

‘Developed with chefs and restaurants’ was the winner in all steers, where it was included. This sensory-driven claim is the most attractive description out of the four, and could influence purchase decisions.

Doubtlessly, there is a scope for expanding the line further. In late 2018 the brand has added the vegan ‘broccoli & purple carrot bites’ and ‘cauliflower hash browns’ to their line-up and plans further product development. Our tests have shown that the brand should be aiming for healthy yet sensory driven new combinations. Considering this, we have come up with seven new ideas, which we tested along with all existing options in a multi-answer steer. In multi-answer steers the total percentages are often lower for individual products; the important factor is the difference between options. Our additions are highlighted in yellow:

Two of Vypr’s suggestions managed to top 30% – ‘courgette, carrot & garlic fritters’ and ‘asparagus stir fry’. These choices confirm consumers’ willingness to enjoy more sophisticated vegetable meals. The fritters attracted 46% of vegan and vegetarian consumers while ‘asparagus stir fry’ only received 31% of these votes. The opposite applied for committed carnivores and omnivores – the fritters attracted much less votes than the stir fry.

Innovation in vegetables is much needed in FMCG. Vegetable products are trendy, with all consumers seeing health benefits in their consumption, regardless of specific diets. Strong Roots targets a range of consumer needs, from time-scarcity to feelings of uncertainty in respect of ingredients and origin. We have demonstrated how its current line-up can be optimally expanded to preserve its target of both non-meat eaters and carnivores. We have also suggested that a sensory-related claim could make the brand even more successful.

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