Ice Cream Insights

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Ice Cream Merchandising

Different brands of ice creams have used various strategies to grab their customers' attention. Some of the strategies used by ice cream brands include using a smart organization and location of their products, using eye-catching product designs and labels, cross-merchandising, and collaborating with retailers.


Ice cream brands use a combination of efforts in order to merchandise their products in the ice cream aisle​. A few examples that have been helpful in increasing a brand's sales include providing a clean and organized space, using and marketing different signs, using eye-catching product design and labeling, and placing the product where it would be most visible. Additionally, through the consideration of price labeling, cross-merchandising, collaboration with retailers, and by providing price gaps between ice cream brands, merchandising is also accomplished.


General Mills used a third party software to create a virtual mock-up of the grocery stores' environment in 3D, experimented with product placement and then collaborated with the retailers to place their products in the most favorable location to get maximum exposure to customers.

Nestle USA decided to focus on their customers' needs of wellness, convenience and variety which led to their ice creams being marketed in cups. Cups offered wellness (portion control), convenience, and variety (more flavors could be purchased). Nestle also used virtual environment techniques to to increase the penetration of their products. Sales of ice cream in cup category rose 53% in the stores that implemented this strategy.

Van Leeuwen, an ice cream brand from New York, redesigned their packaging so it "looks good on social media". This resulted in a sales boost of 50%.

Blue Bell Ice Cream found that their camouflage inspired creation of Camo n' Cream sold so well that they created an ice cream in the same patterns as the camouflage.

Retailers such as Kroger had a clean and organized dairy section with the signage "Discover our richer, creamier ice cream" and "Indulge in our most decadent creations" on two freezer-case doors to draw attention to its private selection line of premium ice creams.

Retailers such as Meijer stocks their doored freezers, used as an end-cap, with a 48-ounce carton of Meijer brand ice cream for better exposure.


Ice cream is a very popular after-dinner treat. Studies have shown ice creams to be the #27 on the most impulse food purchases. Ice creams are also a product category which has nearly universal penetration. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the average American consumes more than 23 pounds of ice cream per year.


Ice cream brands use a combination of product design, labeling, location, sign usage and clean organized space to market their brands. A few examples of interesting and novel ways of merchandising include creating a 3D image of the grocery store (General Mills), creating a specific ice-cream pattern (Blue Bell Ice Cream), and creating cup-sized ice-cream in order to promote wellness and variety (Nestle).
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Nestle Ice Cream Merchandising and Promotion

Nestle manufactures some of the top ice cream brands in the United States, so it comes as no surprise that their merchandising campaigns and promotions for their products are well-known and successful. Since it is such a large corporation, Nestle is media savvy enough to know that in the present day it is in the brand's best interest to tie a marketing campaign into various social media applications. They have historically used Twitter to trend their products. Nestle also offers discounts on many of their ice cream products during the summer to drive sales.


As requested, we focused our research on the U.S. and looked for sources that provide data on Nestle's Ice cream merchandising and promotions during the summer for the last 24 months. However, after an extensive search, we determined that this information is scarce, partly because the focus is geographic (US only) and limiting to the summer period only. As such, our results yielded only a few articles to address the question. In dealing with these limitations, we were able to pieces together information from Nestle website, trusted media sites and advertisement sites. We provided data on Nestle's ice cream promotions during summer, as available, as well as promotions that happened in the last 24 months. We included promotions that happened outside of the summer period in order to provide you with a complete picture of their merchandising and promotional strategies for their ice-cream brands.


During the summer of 2015 Nestle harnessed the power of social media by utilizing Periscope for its marketing campaign to promote the Nestle Drumstick ice cream in places associated with leisure time. In an extremely effective campaign Nestle used Periscope to "live stream 'iconic summer moments on June 21, 2015" and "four 'influencers' also created their own Periscope broadcasts." Nestle also utilized Twitter to "amplify its campaign."

Also, owned by Nestle corporation, Nestle Toll House Cafe by Chip also participated in in-store summer promotions in 2017 by selling premium, customizable ice cream sandwiches. Additionally, part of this summer promotion was "celebrating National Ice Cream Sandwich Day by offering its premium ice cream sandwiches for just $2 each on Wednesday, August 2."

Dreyer's, another popular subsidiary of Nestle, utilized "various social media platforms" to air its 90 second video ad showing real families spending quality time together while sharing Dreyer's ice cream.


As part of an in-store campaign in 2016, Nestle has reformulated their ice creams by removing artificial colors, artificial flavors, corn syrup, and GMO ingredients and replacing them with more real fruit and fruit juices, reducing the amount of sugar added, and using fresh dairy milk. Nestle is using "Facts up Front" ingredient and nutrition labels on their products to let their health conscious consumers in the U.S. know about the changes to these ice cream products.

Nestle and Hostess also partnered up in January 2017 to "manufacture and distribute new products under the Hostess brands." The new frozen ice cream novelties are in part inspired by perennially favorite Hostess snacks cakes. Three new ice cream flavors are Twinkies, CupCakes, and Sno Balls. And three new frozen novelties are DingDong Sandwiches, Twinkie Cones, and Sno Balls Bar.


In conclusion, Nestle effectively utilizes social media applications for product promotion. They have used a variety of social media applications like Twitter and Periscope as well as multimedia to ensure their promotions reach the widest audience possible. Their in-store merchandising efforts have also been effective. This can be seen in their campaign to "clean up" some of their popular ice cream products by reformulating the ingredients as well as in their partnership with the Hostess brand to create exciting new ice cream products.

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Ice Cream Consumption

Ice cream consumption has seen a decline over time throughout the United States. Still, though, the amount of ice cream consumed annually by Americans is dramatic, and new brands are rising to overcome the decline. Below you will find a breakdown of the consumption and production patterns for ice cream in the U.S., as well as loyalty patterns that major ice cream brands follow to keep their customers coming back for more.

National Consumption Habits

Over the past 25 years, consumption of ice cream in the U.S. has seen a steady decrease, from being consumed 41.3 times a year, to 28.5 times a year. This is likely due to health concerns that have decreased the market for ice cream. In 2014, Americans consumed an average of 22.8 pounds of ice cream, per capita. By the end of 2016, this number dropped significantly to 13.1 pounds per person. Despite this major decrease, 40% of Americans still consume ice cream at least once within a two-week time span, 90% of U.S. households regularly consume ice cream, and 9/10 consumers have purchased ice cream within the past 6 months. The U.S. Great Lakes region (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin) had the highest sales of ice cream.

Annual Production and Revenue

In 2013, ice cream sales attributed to $13.7 billion, but with the decrease in consumption also comes the decrease in revenue. By 2017, the growth of ice cream sales had decreased to 1.5% annually, and total revenue was only $8 billion for the year. 898 million gallons of regular ice cream were produced in 2015, and by 2016, the average price for a gallon was $4.68. Breyer's ranked as the second most popular brand of ice cream in 2016, and they accounted for 9.7% of the total ice cream market in the U.S. To this day, 45.6% of U.S. customers say that they regularly purchase Breyer's ice cream.

Top 10 Brands, by Sales

As of 2017, the following were the top 10 brands of ice cream, based on their total annual sales:

1. Privately labeled ice cream: $1090.7 million
2. Breyer's: $503.9 million
3. Ben & Jerry's: $477.1 million
4. Haagen-Dazs: $461.3 million
5. Blue Bell: $425.8 million
6. Wells Blue Bunny: $292.3 million
7. Turkey Hill: $253 million
8. Talenti: $249.7 million
9. DreyersEdy's Grand: $220 million
10. DreyersEdy's Slowchurned: $215.8 million

Top Flavors, by Sales

As of 2013, the most popular flavors of ice cream were chocolate, vanilla, and cookie dough/cookies and cream. Vanilla, however, remains the most popular flavor by Americans, consumed by 28% of the population, and chocolate ice cream accounts for 14% of total U.S. sales. A survey by the International Dairy Foods Association stated that the top 5 best-selling flavors in the U.S. were:

1. Vanilla
2. Chocolate
3. Cookies n' Cream
4. Mint Chocolate Chip
5. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Ice cream that contained only a single flavor make up 59% of total ice cream purchases. Ben & Jerry's ice cream top-selling flavors, for example, all had a chocolate or vanilla base, including chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate fudge brownie.

Brand Loyalty Practices

General practices that work to increase brand loyalty focus heavily on meeting customer expectations. When customers go into a store to purchase an item, they are more likely to buy it again if it meets their expectations. This can be done by effective marketing, as well as understanding the marketed audience. When the wants and needs of a market are understood, it is easier to form a product that they will enjoy. Campaigns, such as punch cards and incentives, are also a popular method of gaining and retaining customers. These methods can and have been adopted by some of the top ice cream brands in the United States:

Ben & Jerry's Loyalty Practices

Ben & Jerry's focuses on producing high-quality, all natural ice cream that tastes delicious and respects the Earth and environment. By doing so, they contribute to society by improving the quality of life of their local, national, and international neighbors. This mindset has set them apart from other brands, thus increasing their audience. With this down-to-earth mindset, Ben & Jerry's has aligned themselves with like-minded businesses that support their values. This not only is effective marketing, but also gives them the power to enhance the company focus throughout the community.

Halo Top Loyalty Practices

Recently the #1 selling pint of ice cream in the United States, Halo Top ice cream has increased their sales by 2,500% since they started in 2012. The brand has done this by marketing clean ingredients with high protein and low sugar. In a declining market due to health concerns, this has certainly set them apart. In 2016 alone, the brand sold more than 17 million pints of ice cream, and sold $66.1 million worth of ice cream in 2017. Halo Top often uses social media like Facebook as a platform for ads that engage with viewers through creative photos, personal responses, and pop culture references. They have also partnered with fitness gurus on YouTube to build their loyalty, by showing that their brand is healthy and tastes good. Their ads boast head-turning descriptions that create a unique product for a large market.


While the market for ice cream in the U.S. has seen a steady decrease over time, brands like Halo Top that market healthy flavors with a great taste are opposing this decline through effective marketing habits. Ice cream consumption is still dramatic throughout the U.S., and top flavors have remained relatively stable.