Easter is deemed the official start of the ice cream season when retailers start dusting down their freezer cabinets and re-stocking them with the latest lines.
Of course, some retailers do sell ice cream all year round but, according to the major ice cream manufacturers, others are missing out on a major sales opportunity. "In some outlets, the ice cream category disappears during the winter as retailers are under the misconception that sales will be low," says Pete Harbour, brand building director for ice cream at Unilever.
"Impulse occasions do see a decline as the weather grows colder, but there are plenty of other consumption occasions, particularly in home, that are just as relevant in winter as they are in summer."
According to Tony Lorman, general manager for baked and ice cream at Mars Ice Cream, three in 10 ice cream purchases are made outside the summer months so the company encourages independent retailers to keep a freezer well stocked with ice cream choices throughout the year.
"The take-home category is a real sales driver in the winter, and Mars Ice Cream’s four-packs provide the perfect solution for a night in. Over 30% of total ice cream sales are in winter, worth £257m (SIG total convenience sales), meaning a well-stocked freezer all year round will lead to a boost in sales," says Lorman.
"Convenience retailers should look to dedicating 70:30 of their freezer space to impulse and take home respectively during the summer months reversing this split during the winter."
Harbour recommends that retailers provide shoppers with indulgence products such as mini or tub ice creams all year round to help maximise impulse purchase sales.
He suggests retailers make space for them by taking out the refreshment lines which are not appropriate in the colder weather. He adds that vanilla ice cream should always be available as many consumers view it as an alternative to custard for desserts.
New for summer 2012
New to the Magnum range is Infinity, which brand owner Unilever is describing as its biggest ice cream launch ever. There are two products, both of which are made from a rare source of cocoa from Tanzania. Magnum Infinity chocolate & caramel contains chocolate ice cream with a caramel swirl covered in dark chocolate with cocoa nibs, while the chocolate variety contains rich chocolate ice cream with a chocolate swirl covered in dark chocolate with cocoa nibs. Both varieties are available in take-home packs of three ices with a recommended retail price of £2.99 while the chocolate & caramel flavour is available as a single for impulse outlets with a rrp of £1.75. The launch will benefit from a £10m marketing investment, including the brand’s largest digital spend to date.
The Cornetto Enigma range is being boosted with the addition of a cookie variant. It has cookie-flavoured ice cream with a soft core of chocolate sauce and cookie pieces. It comes in bright orange packaging for better stand out in ice cream cabinets. Recommended retail price is £1.50. It will be backed by a £1.9m marketing campaign including a TV ad to support the launch, which will air in June.
Mars Ice Cream is launching a new, improved recipe for Twix ice cream, available in all formats: singles, four-packs and six-packs. In addition, the company is doubling its marketing spend to £2m this year.
R&R Ice Cream has four new additions to its 2012 ice cream range including the Nestlé Lion ice cream bar in a £1 price-marked pack. It is a toffee ice cream bar with a thick, chewy caramel sauce, topped with a milk chocolate coating and crispy wafer pieces.
Also new is the Rolo Cone. Priced at £1.10, it comprises creamy caramel and chocolate ice cream with a thick swirl of caramel sauce running throughout, topped with milk chocolate pieces. Then there’s Maxibon Cookie. The Maxibon brand benefits from high consumer awareness thanks to its popularity with holidaymakers in mainland Europe, where it is widely distributed. Maxibon Cookie (rrp £1.60) comprises vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips, sandwiched between chewy cookies and half dipped in milk chocolate. R&R’s fourth new product is Treats Maxi Cone vanilla.
R&R Ice Cream has linked up with Yoomoo frozen yogurt to launch an ’on the moove’ range for impulse retailers. The range comprises 150ml single-eat tubs with spoons in the lids as well as a scooping offer. The tubs (rrp £1.89) include quirky flavours such as angelmoo and devilmoo. The launch is supported, from this month, by a £2.4m marketing campaign featuring TV, print, digital and PR.
New from Frederick’s Dairies is Cadbury Nuts About Caramel stick. With a recommended retail price of £1.60, it is described as "the most indulgent stick from Cadbury ice cream so far". The company also has a new licence to sell Britvic-branded ice creams. The first lines are R Whites lemonade lolly (rrp £1) and Robinsons Fruit Shoot blackcurrant & apple squeeze-up, also £1.
Premium tub brands Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen-Dazs are both launching ice creams with a saucy centre. Ben & Jerry’s Core has three varieties: karamel sutra, dough-ble whammy and berry white; each of which has a soft core of sauce surrounded by two Fairtrade ice creams. Ben & Jerry’s Core has a higher recommended retail price (£4.99) than other Ben & Jerry’s flavours because of its ’premium nature’. The launch is backed by a £5m marketing campaign the brand’s biggest media spend to date. Activity includes heavyweight TV support which hits screens this month.
Häagen-Dazs’ saucy ice cream is Secret Sensations. There are two indulgent flavours chocolat fondant, which is chocolate ice cream with soft brownie pieces and a chocolate sauce centre and crème brûlée, which is crème brûlée ice cream with crunchy caramel pieces and a caramel sauce centre. The products come in 100ml cups, either in a twin-pack or as individual units for impulse purchase. The launch is supported by a £1.6m marketing campaign including TV advertising, digital activity, an in-store support programme, consumer sampling and PR.
Another new line from Häagen-Dazs is mint leaves and chocolate, which brand owner General Mills says is the first mint flavoured product in the luxury ice cream market.
Top 10 ice cream singles
1 Magnum classic
2 Magnum white
3 Tangle Twister
4 Big Feast
5 Calippo orange
6 Flake 99
7 Cornetto strawberry
9 Magnum double caramel
10 Cornetto vanilla
Source: SIG impulse outlets, 52 w/e January 28, 2012
ICE CREAM TIPS
Use stickers on your external windows to attract attention to make sure consumers know you sell ice cream.
Make your ice cream easy to find put your freezer in an easy-to-access place.
Ideally place your freezer near to your till and other impulse sites.
Stock best sellers and favourites.
Keep your freezer well stocked all year round.
Make sure it is kept clean and tidy 50% of sales are lost due to poor displays (SIG impulse outlets).
Showcase your range with freezer stickers and menu boards to achieve display stand out.