You could have the best-tasting, highest-quality, and most unique ice cream product on the market, but if no one knows about it, all your hard work in bringing it to shelf will have been for nothing. That’s where marketing comes in. It’s all about making sure your customer knows your product is an option before they make a decision to purchase.
With brands typically allocating about 12% of their total company-wide budget on marketing spend, some of the bigger brands spending way more than this, and so many brands out there, it is essential to think strategically about how you will market your product in a way that elevates you from your competitors and keeps you top of mind with consumers.
The mainstream use of social media in marketing and advertising means that marketing teams are constantly driven to imagine more and more creative ways to showcase their brand in a way that better connects with their consumer and holds their attention. We have been compiling some of our favourite marketing strategies and tactics used by real ice cream brands from across the globe and thought we would share with you. Let yourself be inspired with what we discovered!
MARKETING STRATEGY 1: LEVERAGING YOUR PACKAGING
Booja Booja’s Beautiful Packaging, UK
Taste is paramount in every sector of the food industry, but customers will always eat with their eyes first. Your packaging is often the first point of visual contact a consumer has with your brand and as such, your very own prime real-estate. The trick is to design your packaging in a way that not only allows your consumer to easily spot you on shelf amidst your competitors, but understand the essence of your brand, intuitively.
UK vegan ice cream brand, Booja Booja is a great example of a brand with beautifully-detailed, playful packaging that certainly stands out in the freezer aisle. Their luxury, indulgent, and one-of-a-kind brand essence is evident through their packaging and with over 140 awards to their name so far, they're obviously doing something right! Would you pick them up if you spotted them in your supermarket?
Image Credit: Vegan Food & Living
Bamsrudlåven Gårdsis’ Homemade Feel, Norway
Marketing begins at the product development stage and a huge part of this is in the packaging chosen to represent the brand. Not only can your packaging help you stand out on shelf, as explained above, but it can also be used to help communicate your brand values and ethos.
Bamsrudlåven Gårdsis is a small Norwegian ice cream brand that leverages their packaging to communicate their values. Their focus is on using only fresh, local ingredients to make their ice cream. Their milk comes from their neighbour's cows and their eggs come directly from their farm's hens. These values are presented beautifully through their packaging (pictured above) with a simple paper seal applied to the lid that reflects their local and handmade ways of working.
Image Credit: Cuco Creative
Diamond-Coated Halo Top Giveaway, USA
Your traditional packaging doesn’t have to be the version you stick with year-round. Birthdays are always a good excuse to regain your customers' attention with a new edition of your packaging. Take Halo Top in the US as the perfect example.
To celebrate their 10th birthday recently, they coated one of their birthday cake flavoured-ice cream pints in $10,000 USD worth of diamonds, rhinestones, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds! Over the top? Yes. Memorable? Extremely! Halo Top’s marketing team have also cleverly combined their limited-edition packaging strategy with a social media marketing giveaway to maximise awareness and engagement around the celebration. One lucky winner from Instagram or TikTok who posts a picture of themselves wearing a Halo Top pint as a birthday hat will win the coveted diamond-encrusted pint on July 14th.
Image Credit: Delish
MARKETING STRATEGY 2. UNEXPECTED MARKETING ACTIVATIONS
Whether you are a new brand starting out or have been in the game for years, the best way you can build brand advocates and loyal fans is to consistently find ways to engage and interact with your customers.
The Tim Horton Ice Cream Truck, Canada
Tim Hortons, Canada’s famous coffee chain understood this assignment with the recent rollout of their special-edition ice cream truck in Toronto. The brand leverages the truck as a way to further promote their new 2022 retail ice cream launch by acting as a reminder for consumers to look for them in the frozen aisle. A great win-win strategy from a customer and retailer perspective. Free ice cream not only makes customers happy and gets them talking about your brand, but it’s also a great way to get retailers more excited about stocking the brand.
Image Credit: Daily Hive
Oatly Use Billboards to Build Their Brand, Germany
Reminder marketing is a fantastic way for brands to stay top-of-mind with potential customers, and there are few brands who do this better than Oatly. Billboards, done right, are still a very popular marketing tool and Oatly shows how it can be done well.
To promote their vegan ice cream flavours, the brand took to carousel billboards across Berlin to remind their fans, and potential new customers, who their vegan ice cream is for and what flavours are available.
Image Credit: Megan Lillick, LinkedIn
Haagen-Dazs’ Ice Cream Master Academy, UK
Enjoying ice cream has become much more than just a post-dinner treat and brands are tapping into different ways for consumers to enjoy their products in a more memorable and dynamic way.
In the UK, for example, Häagen-Dazs created the Ice Cream Master Academy as a way to educate consumers on how our different sensory capabilities play a part when eating ice cream. They set up a pop-up shop in London and invited a variety of Chef’s and Influencers to share their thoughts and experiences on the day. Events like this often encourage a lot of word-of-mouth buzz and media excitement across social media before, during, and after the event from attendees.
Image Credit: Trendhunter
MARKETING STRATEGY 3: INTERACTING VIA TECHNOLOGY
Unilever is really coming out on top when it comes to embracing technology in their ice cream marketing strategies. Through the various partnerships below, we see how they are able to leverage the available technology to their advantage and in a way that aims to continuously improve the customer experience.
Magnum Collaborates with Local Artists for Summer, Spain
The marketing team in Spain at Unilever’s iconic Magnum brand got creative last summer with their co-branding collaboration with local artists where they incorporated QR codes onto beach towels, available for purchase on the Magnum website.
When customers scanned the QR codes, they had their Magnum ice cream orders delivered to their location in less than 30 minutes.
Image Credit: Marca
Magnum’s Immersive Experience, The Netherlands
As an official partner of the recent MET AMS festival in Amsterdam, Magnum designed a virtual ‘Pleasure Museum’ within the Metaverse, where they showcased works of art from artists who have previously collaborated with the brand. Aiming to merge the Metaverse and the real world, Magnum allowed visitors to the virtual experience the opportunity to order a Magnum ice cream of their choosing through their VR headsets and have it delivered to them in real life by their delivery partner, Deliveroo, at the end of their visit.
Flytrex Delivers for Unilever’s Ice Cream Shop, USA
Another Unilever partnership leaning into ice cream tech, this time in the US, is with Flytrex. The drone delivery company will be delivering ice cream from Unilever’s virtual store known as “The Ice Cream Shop”.
Take-home ice cream had a 43% market share in 2020 and has been on the rise since with the segment expected to increase by about 5% (CAGR) over the next five years. While this is primarily due to the changes in consumer behaviour during the pandemic, new technologies like this one only accelerates that growth by enabling easier and quicker access to ice cream at home.
Image Credit: Grocery Dive
When marketing your brand, keep in mind…
Marketing is one of the best tools you have for differentiating your brand in a competitive landscape. Be sure to leverage it intentionally because this article shows that others already are!
It is very clear that ice cream is no longer simply a product. It has become an experience for consumers across the globe with marketing teams imagining new and more creative ways to market their brands every day.
What have we learned from the brand’s marketing strategies mentioned above?
1. Novelty is exciting for consumers! Just like Halo Top did with their diamond-encrusted pint, if you can mix things up through your packaging or the launch of limited-edition offerings that create excitement and anticipation, and turn your brand into prime real estate, then your customers will come, and come back for more if you’re consistently creative.
2. Get people talking by designing an unforgettable product experience through creative marketing activations like Haagen-Dazs did with their Ice Cream Master Academy! Whether it’s a big event or a small but thoughtful touch, you want to create something that drives top-of-mind awareness that turns into purchases in store.
3. Integrating new technologies to keep your brand fresh and innovative will help you to stay relevant in an ever-changing CPG industry. A smart way to go about this is to look at the Unilever examples above where they focus on collaborative partnerships with complementary tech brands from around the world. Your homework is to think about who you could partner with to create great things as well!
If you liked this article, we have more like it in our blog where we aim to post a new article every week!
Founded by former executives in the Ice Cream industry, INNODELICE aims to create a worldwide ecosystem of solutions within the frozen dessert industry. Thanks to the relationships fostered by INNODELICE, manufacturers, brands, importers, distributors and suppliers can discover, buy and sell solutions to GROW their business. These solutions include co-manufactured and branded products as well as innovative and competitive ingredients, packaging and services. Our collaboration model generates lower costs and fewer risks for our participating partners while optimising their time to market. To learn more about INNODELICE, contact Andrea MONTREUIL (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit www.innodelice.com.