KINGSPORT, Tenn. (FNS) -- The dual-ovenable, plastic fresh-meals containers developed by Eastman Chemical Co., based here, will be the subject of an extensive consumer education campaign that highlight their ability to withstand the heating process in both microwave and conventional ovens.
Dubbed VersaTray, the plastic will be marked with a special logo which will appear on each container. Eastman Chemical has tapped Mona Doyle, a Philadelphia-based consumer marketing expert, to act as spokesperson for the campaign. The effort will coincide with VersaTray's rollout, slated for January, 1999.
Introduced at the Food Marketing Institute's MealSolutions show in October, Eastman Chemical's VersaTray branded packaging program is geared to impel shoppers to buy VersaTray packaged products and to help supermarkets with profitability in the meal solutions part of their sales, said company officials.
While dual-ovenable trays aren't new in themselves, the "branding" of the trays is, as is the campaign to create demand for dual-ovenable products, according to Brad Willingham, business market manager, Food and Specialty Packaging.
"What drives the consumer in home-meal replacement, as studies show, is quality, convenience, freshness and then price," Willingham said.
The public education effort will attempt to make fresh-meals packaging matter to consumers, and therefore, create demand for the VersaTray logo, since it designates plastic trays that are dual-ovenable, according to Willingham. Likewise, the new spokesperson, Mona Doyle, will also inform shoppers that the trays are freezable, dishwasher-safe and recyclable.
"She has recognition in the consumer part of the industry and will be taking the message to the consumer press and shopping networks," he said. "If all goes as we hope, consumers will see that VersaTray is the ultimate in convenience and quality."
Eastman Chemical will begin rolling out the program to test markets this quarter before it actually hits stores in the first quarter of 1999. The company already has two packaging producer licensees on board for the program, and two more have indicated they will sign a licensing agreement, Willingham said.
The licensees then will sub-license the program to endusers -- the actual food packagers and retailers who will attach the VersaTray logo onto the package. The sub-licensees will have the labels printed.
"Getting your logo onto someone's package is not easy to do," Willingham said. "You have to back it up with consumer studies and research."
By channeling the campaign through supermarkets, Willingham said the company hopes consumers will place greater importance on the convenience of the product, based in large part on the type of packaging.
"Consumers aren't buying [solely] on price," Willingham said. "They're buying for freshness, convenience and quality, and the quality and the convenience of the packaging is the responsibility of the package itself. The package connotes quality and offers convenience."
According to Willingham, supermarkets can sell the packaged meal solutions product with the VersaTray label and compete effectively with neighboring stores, even with a higher price. "It can help with their profitability," he said.