Woolworths believes its backing of prime-time reality television program Recipe to Riches is driving stronger sales across its frozen food category and delivering a "halo" effect for other food brands, with customer loyalty to the supermarket giant also strengthened.
The cooking show with a commercial twist could potentially also bolster the standing of the supermarket's "Select" private label line, especially in terms of authenticity and branding, as all winning recipes from the TV show are sold under the Select livery.
Despite less than impressive ratings - Recipe to Riches has failed to cement a spot in the top 20 since it began six weeks ago - the show that takes home-made recipes and turns them into supermarket brands has been a winner for Woolworths in terms of getting lapsed shoppers through its doors and trying new foods.
Lizzy Ryley, general manager for customer loyalty at Woolworths and a judge on the TV show, told BusinessDay that data collected since the program began revealed the association with Recipe to Riches had successfully tempted back shoppers who had been missing from its supermarkets for a number of weeks.
Ms Ryley, who joined Woolworths in 2006 and last year drove the relaunch under its "Australia's fresh food people" campaign, said there had been strong interest from viewers in buying each week's recipe winner.
"Even from the very first week we were selling very well. Approximately half of the people buying the product are buying from week to week," she said.
Each week for 12 weeks an everyday Australian's much-loved home recipe will be chosen by the TV judges to be stocked across all of Woolworths' 900 supermarket chains as well as online. The best-selling product at the end of the series will score a long-term commercial deal with Woolworths.
The frozen food category has dominated the initial recipe contests (although other categories will follow) and Ms Ryley said there had been a significant uplift in general frozen food sales as each week a new Recipe to Riches product was placed in the freezer section.
"In frozen food, some [Recipe to Riches] products are selling five times more than the best-selling product in that category.
"There is a 'halo' effect as well that's happening around the brand leader in that category. I've had some more anecdotal feedback that some of our branded producers that have the highest selling product [in the category] have in fact seen a [sales] increase in their product as well.
"It does get people trialling from a category that they might not normally shop in, which is a good thing for us," she said.