The ice cream market is facing a bit of a meltdown in recent years, with 22% of 2016 frozen treat consumers buying less. Beth Bloom, Senior Food & Drink Analyst for Mintel, writes about the current US ice cream market:
“As volume sales in the saturated category decline, dollar gains have cooled. While health leads reasons for cutting back, sales of traditionally health-focused products (including low- fat/calories) struggle, and indulgence appears as a strong purchase driver. Category players can aim at health through cues such as natural, premium, and whole, positioning the products as being both good tasting and good for you.”
As Bloom hints, the one growth area in frozen treats are indulgence-based products. Leading this growth is Breyers, with its 2014 launch of Gelato Indulgences, a super-premium offering priced 70% higher than mainstream ice cream.
Breyers’ foray into super-premium pricing has been successful, with first-year sales of $62 million and 30% growth in the second year. The brand also won a 2016 Nielsen Breakthrough Innovation Award with this product launch. Interestingly, Gelato Indulgences seems to have boosted the mainstream Breyers brand, which has enjoyed 7% growth (three times the growth rate for the overall mainstream ice cream category).
The secret to this product launch success was understanding the occasion for consuming super-premium ice cream. Laraine Miller, Brand Development Director for Breyers, states:
“In the many consumer interviews we conducted, every single woman shared a rich end-of-the- day story. We were primarily looking at a very specific moment in which there’s a married mom, kids have been put to bed after an active day, and then there’s this moment to unwind, connect with her spouse and enjoy a little reward. How can we make that moment special for her? What sort of experience is she trying to create? These were the motivating questions that led, ultimately to the creation of Breyers Gelato.”
Market Strategy Keys: Product, Name and Packaging
To reach moms with an indulgent, end-of-day treat, the product itself had to be special. Gelato Indulgences tantalizes tastebuds with a combination of three flavors and textures: gelato, sauce and topping. For instance, the Strawberry Truffle flavor features strawberry gelato, a fudge swirl and mini truffles.
The product name was also key to the market strategy. In the US market, ‘ice cream’ has the connotation of family, fun and kids. But ‘gelato’ enjoys a completely different perception. Miller elaborates:
“In our consumer work, we found that the idea of gelato triggered associations that were exotic yet approachable, adult but seriously delicious—which fit well with the end-of-day story that we were looking to enhance. We also found that the word gelato triggered images and internal narratives among our consumer group. Gelato activates associations with gourmet meals and memories of traveling abroad. It has an accessibly elegant air to it. Gelato is a very effective trigger that worked for us both as a product and an emotive activator.”
With an appealing product and effective name, the brand needed to showcase these differentiating features on-shelf with unique packaging. The clear container shows the gelato and sauce to advantage, while the container size and shape encourages the occasion of sharing a special time after putting the kids to bed.
See how the Breyers marketing team positioned Gelato Indulgences with this early ad execution, which emphasizes the “grown-up” nature of the product:
Breyers also has a dedicated group of Facebook followers. When they announced a new Gelato Indulgences flavor, many commenters tagged their significant others with messages like, “We have to try this tonight!”
When a brand has out-sized results in a ‘sleepy’ category, I always want to learn more. Breyer’s thorough understanding of target consumer behavior and consumption occasion led them to creating a product perfectly fit for its audience. And now the brand can indulge in super-premium pricing success.