As the weather warms up, retailers need to merchandise the freezer to get ready for increased sales of ice cream.
The ice cream category has grown sales through improving its all-year-round appeal, both through indulgent NPD (New Product Development) and meal deals.
However, the boost provided by the 2018 scorching summer shows that the fortunes of the category remain heavily impacted by the weather.
Value growth has been lifted by the rising inflation since 2016 and consumers opting for premium products. The market is thus estimated by Mintel at £1.4 billion in 2018, up 26% from 2013.
“The scorching 2018 summer has been a boon to the ice cream market, fuelling sales growth at a time when cost pressures are putting a squeeze on operators,” says Anita Winther, Food & Drink Analyst at Mintel. “Lower-calorie ice cream brands have caused a stir in 2018, building up a not insignificant market penetration. While the lower-calorie proposition has potential to bolster category volume sales and help it withstand the ongoing war on sugar, these products’ relatively high price and poor image as indulgent remain barriers to uptake.”
Impulse ice cream is an area that offers significant potential for increased sales, says Unilever’s Partners for Growth advice for retailers.
Partners for Growth suggests retailers stock the best-sellers and use NPD to drive incremental sales.
Telling people you stock ice-cream is crucial. Use internal and external PoS to flag up the fact that you sell ice cream and place your cabinet near the till and other impulse products.
Upgrading your freezer to a modern attractive design can result in a 42% sales increase, according to Partners for Growth.
Keeping to ‘one product, one basket’ where possible will help prevent lost sales; one in 10 customers walk away from a cluttered, confusing freezer and buy nothing.
Ice cream is impulse-dominated. Using on-street signage to tell people you stock it can boost footfall and therefore incremental sales.
The weather has a huge impact on ice cream sales; on a sunny day they can jump by 400%.
Ice cream is a highly expandable category and represents around a quarter of frozen sales in convenience and is key to growth in both summer and winter.
Throughout summer, retailers should aim to meet the demands of consumers searching for a treat, as well as something refreshing, by stocking a range of impulse ice creams – for example, kids’ lollies, chocolate snacks and cones, Partners for Growth suggests.
Some shoppers want to keep costs down, so they will go for ice creams at the value end of the spectrum, while others are looking for indulgent treats or for something for a sweet snacking occasion. Retailers are advised to ensure the selection of products inside the cabinet is clear by grouping products together.
Partners for Growth recommends retailers keep the cabinet clean, uncluttered and well organised at all times, and always have the best sellers in stock. Putting the cabinet near the till and making the prices clear will do a great job of tempting customers to buy ice cream. If it’s not possible to put the cabinet close to the till, making use of point-of-sale material will help shoppers find it.
Using bright and branded point-of-sale material, such as pavement signs, flags and branded waste bins, creates awareness outside the store so retailers should position these where passers-by can’t miss them.
You can’t control the weather but, by planning ahead, you can make sure that you are in the best place to maximise sales when the sun does come out. Knowing when good weather is expected will help you manage your orders and ensure you’ve got sufficient stock to meet demand. Keep up to date with the latest forecast on the Partners for Growth website or look out for tweets on Twitter. Consider identifying a secondary supplier for ice cream, as stock can sell out fast in sunny weather – it’s disheartening to turn customers away because you haven’t stocked up.
The ice cream shopper is usually looking for a distinct type of product such as a refreshing product, a choc snack, an indulgent treat or a kid’s lolly.
One in 10 customers will walk away without buying if the ice cream cabinet is confusing or untidy.
Almost anyone can be tempted, as long as they know you stock it, says Partners for Growth.
Retailer Babar Safraz, of Premier Supersave Mini Market, Burnley comments: “I used the Partners for Growth advice in my store, following the planograms and stocking advice, as well as the overall business advice. As a retailer I am always looking for ways to maximise profit, and stocking the bestsellers in the category has proven to be the most effective way to get that, more so than buying on promotion in cash & carry.”
Jonathan James, who runs James Graven & Sons in Cambs, adds: “The advice I received from Partners for Growth was specifically aimed at maximising category growth rather than simply focusing on growing one particular ice cream brand, so I put it into action immediately. We definitely reaped the rewards, with significant sales improvements being seen in all the shops, so I would recommend that other retailers look to the expert advice from Partners for Growth to grow their ice cream sales.”
Kat Jones, Marketing Manager, Ice Cream & Snacking at General Mills, says Häagen-Dazs has seen great success over the last 12 months, driven by strong NPD launches into new formats such as mini cups, alongside a summer activation that helped the brand deliver a 9.1% increase in penetration (now at 20.6%) according to Nielsen.
Launched in February, the Barista Collection is a new coffee-inspired luxury ice cream in two flavours: Chai Latte and Brownie Macchiato. This range taps into the huge coffee market and offers people an indulgent treat, perfect for after dinner. RRP: £.6.05 (tubs) and £4.20 (minicups).
The biggest Häagen-Dazs launch for this year is its first ever range of lower calorie ice creams – the Gelato Collection.
Ideal for shoppers looking for a lighter option, the Caramel Swirl and Chocolate Drizzle flavours have been designed with traditional Italian Gelaterias in mind.
The ice cream has a very low air content, which results in a rich, creamy, and extremely velvety experience for consumers, at 150 calories and with 30% less sugar and 50% less fat than our original version/recipe, it’s the perfect permissible treat.
Available in the minicup format, it has an RRP: £4.99 for a pack of four.
“Häagen-Dazs has continually led innovation within ice cream,” says Jones. “Last year we rolled out a brand refresh, shook up our marketing strategy and revamped our in-store experience to reinforce our place at the forefront of the category and help us build more personal connections with our customers.”
“Reaching millennials has been a key focus for us and ahead of launching our new look in store we tried and tested it on a younger audience, receiving great feedback for our new, ‘Instagram-friendly’ aesthetic.
“We’ve reaped the rewards of reviving our brand in this way, seeing a considerable growth in brand value over the past two years to £73.1m.”
New for 2019, Mars Chocolate Drinks and Treats has added to its ice cream range with the launch of Skittles Cooler.
Available as a wrapped handheld single, Skittles Cooler combines a fruity flavoured ice cream, with crunchy pieces, wrapped in a refreshing strawberry sorbet made with fruit.
Michelle Frost, general manager at Mars Chocolate Drinks and Treats says: “We are excited to introduce the Skittles Cooler to the freezer for 2019. With a winning combination of a much-loved confectionery brand, real fruit innovation and the category’s leading segment (wrapped handheld) we are sure that these new skus will soon become a firm favourite.”
Skittles Cooler joins other confectionery favourites in an ice cream format including Mars, Snickers Ice Cream Bar, Maltesers Teasers, Galaxy Caramel, Bounty Ice Cream Bar and M&M’s Peanut.
Skittles Cooler Singles is available in a case size of 20 at an RRP of £1.76.
Michelle Frost, general manager at Mars Chocolate Drinks and Treats says: “It’s clear that Wrapped Handheld products are key to driving growth in the ice cream category, and in convenience in particular. With value sales of branded products growing at 13%, it’s important for retailers to stock a range of favourite confectionery brands in ice cream, to reap the sales benefits of familiarity and eye-catching packaging.”
The trend for entertaining at home with family and friends continues to flourish, according to research carried out by Mars Ice Cream.
More than two-thirds of those surveyed stated that they now entertain at home as much, or more than they did ten years ago.
A huge seventy-six percent of consumers are planning to host family and friends at least once a month over the next six months, with one in three of those aged between 18-34 planning to entertain at least weekly.