Other Case Studies:

Naked Juice

Smart & Final

Ready Pac Produce

Hot Pockets & Lean Pockets

Leslie's Poolmart


East Coast Bagel Company

Technology Council of Southern California

Villa Roma Sausage



Nestle – Hot Pockets™
previously owned by Chef America

Chef America is the undisputed leader in the frozen sandwich category. They manufacture many food products including Belgian Chef Waffles, Hot Pockets, Lean Pockets and Toaster Pockets. While at Chef America, I helped them increase their sales ten-fold.

There were several key areas. First was building Hot Pockets. When I joined the company the product had just been introduced in the Los Angeles area. We utilized many forms of research to understand the consumer, including home use tests, focus groups, panel data and scanner data. From this information we developed advertising campaigns to emotionally reach our target audience. Also a critical factor to our success was gaining complete support from the retailers. We accomplished this by working with food brokers and customizing programs to match each retailer. We avoided the standard pitfall of creating one program and forcing every retailer to either accept or reject it. Through testing we also learned when were the best times to use couponing and advertising. We even were able to determine the most effective times of day to run television ads. Once we had this information, we ran many national TV and couponing campaigns.

Another key area for success was the creation of Lean Pockets. When creating a line extension, it is imperative to minimize sales cannibalization. We avoided this by understanding our two target audiences and building similar, yet independent brand positioning. Had we not done that, we could have severely hurt Hot Pockets sales. We positioned Lean Pockets to appeal to women, with a focus on working women. The packaging and all the advertising supported the brand identity.

The last key element to the success of both brands was the invention of the microwave crisping sleeve. Up to that point, the only crisping material that had been used was a disc to heat microwave pizza. I came up with the concept of encasing the sandwiches in this crisping material, called "suceptor film." It made the product crisp out of the microwave, and we were able to knock out several competitors from the category.

©2015 Stallman Marketing