As the name suggests, Yuppie Dinners Inc., had been organized to market meals primarily dinners, to the yuppie market individuals between 20 and 40, living single or as couple, with household incomes of more than $50,000, generally employed in management or professional jobs, and concentrated primarily in the large cities. This market had grown rapidly after 1975, but in 1985 a major shift took place that caused Yuppie Dinners and other firms to wonder what new trends were developing. Yuppie Dinners decided to make a telephone survey to obtain information that would help determine what new products to bring out in 1989 and thereafter. A questionnaire had to be devised for the study.
Shortly after TV became an ubiquitous household appliance, TV dinners entered the market and quickly became a major new factors in household feeding. These dinners were complete meals on an aluminum tray. They were sold through the frozen food department of supermarkets and could be prepared for serving by putting them in a standard oven for about 40 minutes. Typical such dinners were:
Veal parmigiana with spaghetti in tomato sauce
Turkey in gravy with dressing and mashed potatoes
Fried chicken and corn
The name, TV dinners, came from the fact they were easy to serve and eat while the family watched television. In addition they had a low cost appeal, being priced around $1.65 each.
As the yuppie generation developed, the appeal of ease and speed of preparation became even more important as both men and women were employed; but the higher income yuppies earned made the economy factor less important. Microwave ovens shortened the warming time to 5 – 10 minutes but required a shift from aluminum to plastic trays. Fancier gourmet meals became a major new product line, including such items as:
Sliced turkey breast with mushroom gravy, wild rice, and garden vegetables
Pepper steak with rice and oriented vegetables
Sirlorin roast, mushroom gravy, parsleyed potatoes, broccoli, and carrots
Prices for these gourmet meals rose to the $ 3.00-$ 4.25 range, but by the early 1980s demand was growing at a rate of 20-25 percent a year as compared to the total frozen meal market, which were growing at 10-15 percent a year.
Suddenly in 1985 this all changed. The total frozen meal market leveled off, and the premium portion (meals over $3.00) had annual unit sales declines of 10-30 percent. The following chart shows comparison of 1987 with 1985 with regard to the demand for frozen dinners at different prices.
Sales of Frozen Dinners by Price: 1985 and 1987
Price 1985 1987
$3.00 and above 22% 16%
$ 2.50- $ 2.99 29% 17%
Below $2.50 49% 67%
Total 100% 100%
Yuppie Dinners had planned to bring several new premium dinners to the market in 1988 but cancelled these while it studied the situation. This data available suggested there was a turn away from gourmet meals back to low priced meals. Pizza Hut, the largest of the pizza chains, which had catered to those who came to their restaurants, changed its policy to provide home delivery. Some analysts concluded that consumers had found the premium dinner premium in price only. A budget gourmet line, introduced in 1985 and selling for less than $ 2.00 had taken 15 percent of the entire market by 1987. Alternative foods as hot, carry out dishes were becoming more popular.
Yuppie Dinners decided to make a random digit dialing telephone survey of yuppies (defined as in the first paragraph) in four cities, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta, to more clearly define the changes taking place in yuppie eating habits especially with regard to: (1) use of frozen dinners or entrees versus (2) cooking from scratch, (3) use of refrigerated but not frozen meals, or (4) hot carry out or delivered meals; prices paid; and use of microwave, regular oven, or no heating at home. Specific information to be obtained would include:
1) What the individual yuppie for dinner on each of the last three nights.
a) Ws it prepared from scratch, purchased in prepared form, or part of both?
b) If purchased in prepared form, was it frozen; refrigerated but not frozen; dry, cold, not refrigerated; received hot; or other?
c) Was it heated by microwave or regular oven?
e) Did respondent think it was gourmet or not?
f) Brand name?
2) Was respondent happy with each meal or not?
3) Were the kinds of meals similar to those respondent was eating a year before? If not, why?
4) Will the types of meals respondent eats change over the next year? Why or why not?
7) Living alone, with someone of opposite sex, with someone of same sex, or with more than one other individual?
8) Total household income.
9) Living in apartment or separate house? ]
11) Phone number?
12) City of residence?