Chilled ready-to-cook (RTC) chicken products* are relatively new for Moscow retail market and haven’t won consumer loyalty yet. Processed meat products differ from whole meat, because exterior of, say, croquettes or sausage can tell very little about their ingredients, so consumers tend to pay more attention to product description and information about manufacturer. Interestingly, consumers demonstrate more trust to products made by poultry farms than to in-store-made products of retail chain.
Because of strict demands to quality of RTC chicken products and also due to existing habits significant part of Muscovites still prefer home-made chicken croquettes. However, research findings show growing trust to RTC chicken products including croquettes and sausage, so they gradually win more space in consumer basket. Increasing consumption of the review category is first of all related to efforts taken by market leaders, mostly of poultry farms which managed to offer affordable price for products with guaranteed quality and made sure the products were present on retail shelves.
According to consumer poll held by “ScanMarket” in February 2011, Muscovites were buying chilled chicken croquettes 2.5 times per month on the average. Research held in April 2015 (respondents were interviewed in Moscow hypermarkets and supermarkets)** showed that purchase frequency for the said category increased significantly and constituted 3.5-4 times per month. In segment of chicken sausage dynamics of purchase frequency is not that obvious because in poll held in February 2011 respondents were also asked about chicken Vienna sausage. Purchase frequency in that case constituted 2.2 times per month.
The average size of one time purchase for chicken croquettes constitutes 1.6-1.8 packages; the majority of Muscovites buy 1 or 2 packages at a time. Purchase habits of consumers in hypermarkets and supermarkets show little difference. In case of sausage the average size of one time purchase is 1.4-1.5 package and this index was practically the same in different retail formats.
During the poll respondents were interviewed next to the shelves with the review categories which was close to actual situation of product choice. One of the questions was about choice criteria. Respondents were asked to name and rank by importance criteria they pay attention to when choosing the review product categories in a store (no answer variants were offered).
Quite a few respondents mentioned the taste of RTC chicken products as an important choice criterion because the question was about the choice of product in a store. It should be mentioned however that product taste is still very important; in previous poll a list of possible answers was offered to respondents and 70% of them chose taste as an important choice factor.
Most typical factors determining consumer choice were product exterior (66% of respondents), price (59%) and production date (47%). However, if we refer to production date as one of freshness features then freshness becomes the most important choice factor with 68% of respondents paying attention to it.
Only 16% of interviewed Muscovites consider ingredient list though some consumers are indeed concerned about “artificial” ingredients. Low index of this choice criterion can be referred to the fact that consumers buy brands well-known to them.
Currently there are a few strong players on the market of RTC chicken products. Only two brands are leading, “Petelinka” (“Petelinskaya PF (Poultry Farm)” CJSC and “Mosselprom” CJSC, Moscow Region) and “Pervaya Svezhest (Top Freshness)” (“PF “Elinar Broiler” LLC, Moscow Region). The study also investigated purchase experience during the recent 2 months before the poll. Amount of shares of these two brands exceeds 100% which means many respondents choose both brands. On the average Muscovites buy 1.7-1.8 brands of chilled RTC chicken products; significant part of consumers easily switch between the brands and if the preferred brand is unavailable they would choose another. The possible reason is that people see little difference between competing brands.
Respondents were also asked what brand they would call a leader in the category of chilled RTC chicken products. In some stores consumers named “Petelinka” more frequently than “Pervaya Svezhest”. Absence of clear leader is the evidence that fight for consumer minds between two largest players of the review market still goes on.
Respondents were asked to rate certain properties of two leading brands***. The average rates are very close, it means consumers see little difference between “Petelinka” and “Pervaya Svezhest”; in general consumers are satisfied with both brands.
Increasing consumption of chilled RTC chicken products would be impossible is the offered products were tasting bad or had too little meat in them. According to consumers, integrated production of poultry guarantees to large market players high quality of ready product, respectively taste of RTC chicken products of such manufacturers meets high demands of picky Moscow consumers. High rates of brands’ freshness are reached not only due to well-organized logistics but also due to close location of poultry farms to Moscow.
Chilled RTC chicken products are quite interesting in terms of marketing opportunities. High quality comparable to the quality of home-made meals and growing diversity of choice help manufacturers to find their consumers.
Chilled RTC chicken products in Russia are produced both by retail chains and manufacturing companies. Branding and high level of competition between poultry manufacturers (between the largest two at least) guarantee high quality so valued by consumers.
* This research covered two varieties of chilled RTC chicken products, croquettes and sausage. When respondents were asked about chilled RTC chicken products, croquettes and sausage were kept in mind but croquettes have better retail coverage, so answers of respondents are most probably about this category.
** Poll was held in various stores of different retail chains, so poll results might differ from statistics of each retail chain.
*** Brands’ properties were rated by 5-point scale where 1 equaled to “very bad” and 5 - to “excellent”.