Is It Time For Product Managers To Get Out The TV Dinners?

TV Dinners are coming back, will product managers be ready?
TV Dinners are coming back, will product managers be ready?
Image Credit: Thomas Hawk

So let’s picture a typical evening for you. You get home from work, sort through the mail, change clothes, click on the TV, and then you start to think about dinner. Assuming that you have not gone crazy and called up Uber Eats to deliver you some restaurant food, you are going to be on the hook to create a meal for yourself. If you have some chef skills this won’t be all that hard to do; however, if you are like the rest of us you are going to be searching around for something to eat. One handy solution that a lot of us often go to is the so called “TV Dinner” – a frozen meal that has all of the important parts of a dinner such as vegetables, meat, and a desert. Is this a meal that product managers could once again make popular?

Say Hello To The TV Dinner (Again)

There are a number of different brands of foods that are currently struggling. Sales of their well known food products are dropping and they have not been able to figure out what to do about it. However, one part of their business appears to be doing very well. Sales of frozen microwave dinners are rising at the fastest rate in over a decade. TV Dinners have skipped a generation in popularity; however, it now appears as though they may be staging a comeback. In the past year sales of TV Dinners have risen by 5.7% – they had only risen by 1.5% the year before. This kind of increase could look good on anyone’s product manager resume.

The reason that this increase in the sales of TV Dinners has caught the attention of the product managers who are responsible for them is that overall sales of packaged food have only risen by 2%. In fact, in the past few years the TV Dinner product managers have been seeing diminishing sales in frozen meals. The result of this increase in the sales of TV Dinners, which the product managers do not believe is a temporary thing, has been for their companies to agree to invest a great deal of money to freshen up their TV Dinner brands, create new TV Dinners, and boost their ability to manufacture TV Dinners.

How To Boost TV Dinner Sales

So why do people buy TV Dinners? When asked, many people report that they view having a TV Dinner in the freezer is a good thing to have “just in case”. In order to meet the needs of their customers, TV Dinner product managers have been busy changing their product development definition by removing salt, sugar, and other things that are not healthy from TV Dinners. The result of this is that they are starting to appeal more to customers who clearly like the convenience of a TV Dinner.

Product managers have been making changes to all of the ingredients and packaging of the frozen foods that their companies sell. The results of these changes has been that there has been an overall increase in the sales of frozen foods such as vegetables and pizza. In the past, TV Dinners have been all about providing customers with comfort foods. This has changed and now its all about modern American cuisine. There are some TV Dinner customers who have said that they do not like to microwave their meals in plastic containers. In order to meet this need, TV Dinner product managers have placed their meals into plant based compostable packaging.

What has really impressed the TV Dinner product managers is that the TV Dinner market has been around since the 1980s. In the past, it has been a sluggish market. However, in the past few years this market has really come back to life. One of the reasons for this is that the product managers have started to portray their brands as being more generally healthy instead of just low calorie. It was their ability to both understand what their customers were looking for and then adapt to it that has allowed them to bring the market for TV Dinners back to life.

What All Of This Means For You

When we think about food, most of us tend to think about fancy restaurants and organic specialty foods. However, frozen food product managers understand that we don’t always have time to whip up fancy meals for ourselves and so they have taken a look at their product manager job description and decided to provide us with frozen TV Dinners for those evenings when we want someone else to do the work for us. TV Dinners have always been there, but all of sudden they have become hot once again.

Sales of TV Dinners have been increasing over the past year or so. TV Dinners have been around for a long time; however, its starting to look like they skipped a generation and only now are starting to stage a comeback. This boost in sales has caught the attention of product managers and they do not think that it is just a temporary thing. People often buy TV Dinners as a backup in case they don’t have anything else. Product managers have been trying to boost the appeal of TV Dinners by making them more healthy. TV Dinners were originally all about comfort food. However, they are now starting to be about American cuisine. As product managers have started to make TV Dinners more about eating healthy and less about low calories, this type of food has staged a significant comeback.

We will always have a need to eat dinner. TV Dinners provide us with a quick and easy way to have a complete meal that does not take a lot of effort to prepare. By making TV Dinners more appealing to us, product managers are making it easier for us to select them when it comes time to have dinner. By doing this, they have been able to wake up a market segment that had been sluggish for a generation and they have breathed new life back into it. We’ll have to see if they can keep our attention and actually make us want to have a TV Dinner tonight!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that product managers should make TV Dinners that serve more than one person at a time?

Click here to get automatic updates when
The Accidental Product Manager Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Product Manager Newsletter are now available. It’s your product – it’s your career. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

We all know the company General Electric – at one point in time, they seemed to make just about everything that you could buy that could be plugged in. These days GE is playing a game of catch up with other companies. GE wants to be a player in the growing business of large-scale electricity storage. The problem that their product managers are facing is that other companies such as Tesla and Siemens already have a strong position in this new business Looks like they are going to have to update their product development definition and come up with a new product if they want to be competitive.