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Ben and Jerry’s success is far from frozen

Ben and Jerry’s success is far from frozen

History

Ben and Jerry’s have been making their crazy ice cream combinations for over 25 years. The brand was the creation of childhood friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield following a $5 correspondence course in ice cream making.

In 1978, only months after finishing the course, they set up shop in a renovated gas station, in Burlington, Vermont.

The duo soon became popular for their entertaining approach to the whole ice cream experience, creating innovative flavours, made from fresh milk and cream.

The Ice Cream Market today

The total ice cream market is now worth £783million year on year (+4.2 per cent), with 79.2 per cent of households buying once a month on average.

Ben and Jerry’s took the lead in the UK super premium ice cream market in 2004 and has remained there since

Ben and Jerry’s year to date performance in the category is up 26 per cent on 2006 and it is this that is largely fuelling the 18 per cent growth in the total super premium category as a whole

 Ben and Jerry’s is also leading the luxury ice cream market with 35.7 per cent value share and is the fourth largest ice cream brand overall.
 
Ben and Jerry’s UK Brand Manager, Caroline Simpson, said, “We’re lucky enough to be custodians of a truly authentic brand whose sense of humour and ethical values attract very loyal fans.

“In addition, the all-natural quality indulgence of the product drives these fans to recommend us to their friends, and so we grow!”

Following the launch of Chocolate Fudge Brownie and Cherry Garcia low fat frozen yogurt in October 2005, Ben and Jerry’s has become market leader of the luxury light ice cream market (worth £5.5m by the end of 2006) with a 70 per cent value share.

Over the past year, Ben and Jerry’s consumer growth has continued to remain the highest in the luxury ice cream category with a staggering 1.75m households buying Ben and Jerry’s over the last year (288,000 more households than bought Haagen Dazs, the brand’s closest competitor).

Ben and Jerry’s value sales are up 26.5 per cent on last year, while in London the brand has enjoyed even better growth with value sales up by 28 per cent.

Ben and Jerry’s frequency of purchase has reached an all time high and average spend per buyer continues to be the highest in the luxury category illustrating how loyal Ben and Jerry’s consumers are.


The Product USP

Ben and Jerry’s diverse range of ice creams remains based on the original recipes of hippie ice cream gurus and company founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.

The brand’s USP is to use less air and more butterfat, absorbing swirls and  ingredient chunks.

Key in driving Ben and Jerry’s growth within this category has been: unique, innovative flavours; assurance that all ingredients are natural; and the fun and entertainment associated with the product.

‘Fossil Fuel’, ‘Phish Food’ and ‘Cherry Garcia’ are just a few examples of the uniquely tasty and bizarrely named range, part of the brand’s irreverence and deeply imbedded values around ethical issues.

Social Mission

Ben and Jerry’s is aiming to strengthen its unique ‘Social Mission’ in 2007 through new product launches.

The company was established on a platform of ‘Caring Capitalism’ which reinforced Ben’s view that “Business has a responsibility to give back to the community in which it operates.” 

Ben and Jerry’s will continue to support local communities and individuals through its unique ‘Social Mission’ including in 2007.

These include the ‘Caring Dairy’ programme which helps develop sustainable farming techniques amongst the farmers supplying Ben and Jerry’s milk and cream.

Also PartnerShops, Ben and Jerry’s social franchise business will be expanded.
 
New Products

From March, the brand’s fourth best seller, Vanilla Toffee Crunch, will become Fairtrade. Two further additions to the Fairtrade range will be launched in Autumn/Winter 2007.

As Jerry says, "Fairtrade is about making sure people get their fair share of the pie. The whole concept of fair trade goes to the heart of our values and the sense of right and wrong.

“Nobody wants to buy something that was made by exploiting somebody else."

A new flavour which draws on Ben and Jerry’s musical roots will be launched in May, with others in the pipeline.

Ben and Jerry’s UK Brand Manager, Caroline Simpson, revealed, “Whilst super-premium ice cream is consumed all year round, category growth is largely fuelled by innovation. 

“We therefore plan seasonal new product development launches to sustain consumer excitement and trial whatever the weather!’

2005 saw the October launch of Ben and Jerry’s Frozen Yogurt - Cherry Garcia and Chocolate Fudge Brownie. This year will see the launch of an additional flavour from the ice cream portfolio.

Simpson said, “With trends in healthier eating on the increase, it felt high time we introduced our less body, more soul dessert option to UK fans.

“The range has been extremely successful and we’re looking to expand it this year with a new addition.”

Marketing

The brand has been positioned as the ‘antidote to seriousness’.

Adopting a ‘home-fangled’ approach to an integrated mix of advertising, PR and the Internet is the key underlying force in Ben and Jerry’s marketing strategy.

Activities for 2007 to build on the brand’s market leadership position include:

-  £2.5Million marketing spend to continue support for Fairtrade and new product launches.

- The return of Ben and Jerry’s Sundae – a Ben and Jerry’s owned festival on Clapham Common which combines family fun, music and ice cream

 - PR push around Free Cone Day which takes place on April 17
 
 - PR campaign raising awareness of Climate Change College, a unique partnership in its second year to send young Britons to the Arctic to campaign for action on climate change

AJR
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