Arrivals, relaunches and bigger spends have lifted a flat category An air of optimism is spreading over the frozen pizza aisle as the signs of a turnaround in the £316m market become more apparent. Too many promotions squeezing the value out of the market and consumers' continued perception of a poor quality offering cast a cloud over frozen pizza in 2001. But this year there has been a buzz in store because of a huge amount of branded activity. Higher spends have been earmarked to raise the category's profile and there are more adventurous top notch products aimed at putting the pizza delivery man out of business. The arrival of Germany's leading pizza manufacturer Dr Oetker and the Heinz' Pizza Pleasure relaunch has also shaken up the market. Dr Oetker was encouraged to launch a full assault on the UK market after a successful nine-month test market of its Pizza Ristorante brand. UK sales director Peter Franks says: "Pre, during and post, we have taken soundings from consumers about our ads and our products, and we are seeing more than 70% repeat purchases, which is high." The company will be reviewing growth areas such as snacking and health, but for the moment its focus is solely on Pizza Ristorante, Franks says. Brand leader Schwan's, however, remains confident about its brands. European marketing controller Ben Johnson says: "We have key equities in our 13cm deep-dish Chicago Town products and the Freschetta crust. Freschetta alone is growing at 37% year-on-year and has an 8% share of the market." He says there have been times when big brands were used to attract footfall, but using them too often penalises the brand, so the answer is, "don't do it too often, do it strategically". Mobile frozen units, such as Morrisons' bumble bees', are great for promoting brands because they can be moved anywhere, and they can be sited next to kindred spirit products, such as wine and Freschetta, and Budweiser and Chicago Town, Johnson says. One set of Schwan's TV ads finished just before the World Cup began and it is now targeting the tournament with its latest snack product. "Frozen and breakfast aren't really spoken about in the same sentence, yet we found an opportunity there," Johnson says. "Matches are mostly in the morning and our frozen breakfast product, Chicago Town Scrambles, is for those who want a quick breakfast. So, we are running a bogof for a four-week period on twin-packs of these self-contained breakfasts for £1.99." Snacking is also an area Heinz is investigating through its US contacts. Business director for frozen and chilled Robin Walker says products would have to be adapted for the UK market, but there were some good ideas which he hopes will make it to the UK early next year. Heinz' latest burst of activity is the relaunch of its Pizza Pleasure pizza which, like Dr Oetker, targets adults. The move comes nine months after its debut in September and sales which did not fulfil expectations. Walker says it needs refreshing and part of that strategy is sponsorship on Channel 5. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}