If you want to sell more ice cream you’ve got to treat it more like other impulse categories. That’s the message from Melanie Rolfe, senior category manager for impulse ice cream at Unilever. "It’s all about getting the basics right and treating ice cream like you treat confectionery to drive impulse sales," she says.

"Ice cream can get neglected; then the sun shines and retailers rush into action. They look after their confectionery and crisps all year round so why not their ice cream? It’s a great impulse line."

In forecourts the bias is still towards chocolate ice creams: "In particular this means Magnum classic and white but Crunchie Blast sold well too last year," says Rolfe.

The big news this year from Magnum is the launch of Magnum cocoa, made with Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa from Ecuador and Ghana.

There are two varieties: Magnum Ecuador cocoa and Magnum Ghana cocoa. Ecuador will be available in impulse and take-home formats while Ghana will be just available in take-home packs. Ecuador cocoa has thick dark chocolate (62% cocoa solids) made with Ecuadorian cocoa, smooth vanilla ice cream and a swirl of dark chocolate sauce. Christina Dunn, brand manager for Magnum, says: "Research shows that consumers are increasingly interested in the origins of cocoa and we are particularly proud to be launching these products with Rainforest Alliance certification."

The launch will be backed by a £3.5m marketing campaign including TV, outdoor, digital, PR and cinema activity all launching just before Easter.

For forecourts looking for a new kids’ line there’s X-Pop, a fruit & cola flavour ice lolly with a bubble gum flavour topping, dipped in popping candies. It is priced at a pocket-money friendly 50p.

All Wall’s kids’ products have no artificial flavours and can be easily identified via on-pack character Max the lion.

Another line to look out for is the Ben & Jerry’s Wich cookie sandwich. Rolfe describes it as an "easy-to-eat premium adult line and she says there’s been a lot of interest from forecourts in stocking it. But she also recommends stocking Ben & Jerry’s tubs all year round. "Luxury ice cream is a good top-up line," she says.

The latest addition to the Ben & Jerry’s range is the 100% Fairtrade coconut ice cream coconutterly fair. It’s chocolate ice cream with coconut caramel swirls and a chocolatey caramel crunch covering. It comes in 500ml tubs with a rrp of £4.29 and 150ml tubs, rrp £1.49.

The launch will benefit from a £3m support package, including a cinema and TV ad, both championing Fairtrade.

If you have the space, Rolfe recommends stocking Carte D’Or vanilla and chocolate and Vienetta which is available price-marked at £1.59.

"It’s great value and still sells really well," she says.

Moving on, and a new Cadbury Wispa ice cream bar (rrp £1.25) leads Fredericks’ 2011 range. The product comprises a ’high-whip’ chocolate ice cream with real Wispa pieces, all enrobed in Cadbury chocolate.

David Taylor, Fredericks’ managing director, says: "Without doubt, the launch of the Wispa brand into the ice cream market is the most significant product launch for us since Flake ’99 cone 12 years ago." Also new to the Cadbury impulse ice cream range is Cadbury Dairy Milk Caramel cone (rrp £1.25) and a range of 125ml Cadbury ice cream cups available in Wispa, Caramel, Crunchie, and heavenly vanilla variants (rrp £1.49).

Under the Del Monte range, Fredericks is launching its successful 100% Juice Orange fruit ice as an impulse product for the first time. The company says it is the only lolly to be accredited with the ’one of your five-a-day’ promise. Rrp is £1. Fredericks’ range is supported by a £10m marketing spend including involvement in National Ice Cream Week in early June, plus a return of ’The Cadbury Flake ’99 Great British Beach Awards’.

Over at Mars, the Milky Way Magic Stars pouch product is being joined by an ice cream stick. The brand will be supported by the ’Red Car, Blue Car’ advertisement that many consumers will recognise from the 1980s.

In addition, a new M&M’s cone will be joining the Mars range. Featuring waves of vanilla ice cream and mini chocolate M&M’s in a crispy wafer cone, it’s expected to be a hit with adults and kids alike. And Twix ice cream is being relaunched, supported by a £5m media spend across the entire brand. The improved Twix recipe has crunchier biscuit and a new caramel flavoured ice cream which replaces vanilla.

Making your customers aware that you sell ice cream and other frozen products is half the battle for sales. General Mills UK marketing director, Ed Culf, advises independent retailers to really think about how they can flag up the frozen aisles at the front of the store, to help ensure consumer footfall to the freezer aisle.

"This can help benefit sales across the wider frozen category. Independent retailers who make the freezer aisle a destination with impactful POS and a strong range will certainly be seeing dividends when it comes to sales.

"In multiple retailers, the freezer aisle is often stuck at the back of the store and does not attract the high levels of footfall that the chilled desserts cabinet does but in a smaller independent store, this is not such an issue and retailers can really make the most of consumers doing a top-up shop on the way home and grabbing that last-minute tub of luxury ice cream for dessert."

General Mill’s Häagen-Dazs is enjoying strong sales growth up 21.7% according to IRI data for the 52 weeks ending January 22. Last year the brand added chocolate, pralines & caramel to the range as the chocolate flavour segment is really driving category growth.

Says Culf: "We had an absolutely outstanding response to this launch. We increased our share in chocolate, driven by the successful launch of chocolate, pralines & caramel and successful TV advertising support. We will continue to invest in strong marketing support, including national TV, to drive new users to the category."

Finally, Richard Hayhoe, marketing director at Palmer and Harvey, says: "We’re at the beginning of another big year for the ice cream sector. New products include Rolo in a 200ml pot with a spoon and the launch of Wispa ice cream to tie in with the successful relaunch of the chocolate bar. It all looks very promising.

"Our advice to forecourt retailers is to firstly make sure that your freezer’s well stocked you need to have the top 10 selling brands, and follow a planogram. Then get the basics right nearly half of all sales are lost to unappealing cabinets. Keep things clean, keep the stock levels high and keep the frost levels down. Ensure that you’ve got the manufacturers’ point-of-sale material clearly displayed and don’t forget to ensure that prices are clearly visible shoppers need to know what their ice cream is going to cost them before they get to the till."

Top 10 best sellers in impulse

1.Wall’s Magnum Classic

2. Wall’s Magnum White

3. Wall’s Twister

4. Wall’s Cornetto Strawberry

5. Wall’s Feast Chocolate

6. Wall’s Calippo Orange

7. Wall’s Solero Exotic

8. Cadbury Flake 99 Chocolate

9. Mars Xtra Vanilla Caramel

10. Wall’s Magnum Double Caramel

Source: IRI MAT to Sept 2010

six tips for sales success:

1) Let people know you sell ice cream Unilever’s Partners For Growth (PFG) initiative states that this can increase sales by 15%. Use external point of sale such as pavement signs and bins wherever you can. For managed sites, Unilever has been developing external point of sale such as branded toppers for bollards.

"We’re giving away £4m-worth of free point of sale this year," says Melanie Rolfe, senior category manager for impulse ice cream at Unilever. You can get yours by contacting your local wholesaler or calling POS Direct on 0870 241 4996.

2) Make sure your cabinet is easy to find location of the impulse cabinet is key to driving sales. Unilever’s PFG research has found that putting it in the wrong place can reduce sales by 75%.

3) Draw attention to the cabinet Unilever recommends that retailers use a three-tier Maxi-vision the company says it can increase sales by 42% compared to other chest freezers. "The red branding of the cabinet can be used as a signpost for the category. Use point of sale such as a header board and stickers to dress the cabinet and make it enticing for retailers," says Rolfe.

4) Keep your cabinet clean and tidy. Defrost the cabinet at the start of the season. Merchandise the cabinet by blocking similar products together cones, chocolate, kids, refreshment etc. Keep one product per basket to optimise sales and stock rotation.

5) Stock the best sellers Unilever’s top selling lines account for 44% of the category’s sales. Ensure you don’t stock cabinet cloggers and give enough space to the best sellers such as Magnum classic and white. The planogram supplied by PFG is an industry recommended range that will drive sales.

6) Stock ice cream all year round Unilever says this can increase your ice cream sales by 25%. Don’t forget to stock take home one-third of all take home sales within convenience are purchased in the winter months.

Frozen delights

There is plenty of activity in the freezer cabinet, including:

l Catch Fresh is Birds Eye’s new prawns range which comes with a ’peeled to frozen in 2.5 hours’ guarantee. Three variants are available: king prawns, emperor king prawns and crispy king prawns. Rrp is £3.99. The launch is backed by a £3m media investment which includes TV advertising, direct mail, PR, online and in-store activity.

l To celebrate the 30th birthday of Birds Eye Potato Waffles, a new mini version is being launched. Available from this month, new Birds Eye Mini Potato Waffles aim to offer mums better portion control at teatime. The Mini Potato Waffles are available in packs of 26, rrp £1.69. The launch is supported by national PR and a dedicated online campaign.

l Mexican Chargrills are the latest addition to Bird Eye’s successful Chargrills range. Available from this month, they will be sold alongside the established original, peri peri, cracked black pepper, reggae reggae and lime & chilli variants. All are made from 100% chicken breast. Rrp is £1.69.

l McCain Foods has unveiled a new brand identity across its frozen potato range to help deliver a "stronger in-freezer presence". The range has also been segmented to meet different consumer needs, so now comprises: traditional, healthy, fast food at home and perfect for sharing lines.

l McCain Foods is adding Mexican Wedges to its range. The launch is part of the brand’s ’Perfect for Sharing’ strategy which aims to encourage consumers to enjoy wedges ’beyond the side of plate’.