Ben and Jerry’s is an American Ice-cream company that manufactures ice cream novelty products, sorbets, frozen yogurt and ice cream. It is a division of Unilever an American-Dutch Company. It started in 1978 trading under the name Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Holding. It started by selling in an ice cream parlour in Vermont. By 1980, it expanded by packaging its ice cream in pints and selling to grocery stores. It continued to grow in operations, profits and income and by 2000 it was acquired by Unilever. This acquisition however, did not change anything as per operations and manufacturing of Ben and Jerry’s products. It still operates autonomously even with the founders names still on the ice cream.
Ben and Jerry’s is also known for its commitment to using eco-friendly materials and ingredients in their ice cream and entire business activities and process.
ICE CREAM AND FROZEN DESSERT MARKET SEGMENT IN AMERICA
The ice cream and frozen desert market in America is a highly competitive and large one. Not one brand can claim a large significant domination of the market. However, Häagen-Dazs, Dreyer’s/Edy’s, BlueBell, Klondike, Blue Bunny, Klondike, Breyers and Drumsticks are Ben and Jerry’s closest competitors. With Häagen-Dazs, Dreyer’s/Edy’s, BlueBell controlling 9.2%, 8.9% and 6.4% respectively while Ben and Jerry’s controls 4.8% of the total market share (Euromonitor international, 2014). The Ice cream and frozen Desert market is estimated to be about $25 billion in America (Food Navigator, 2012).
The ice cream market also competes against snack products like confectionaries, cookies and other sweet biscuits. This has even given rise to the introduction of confectionary branded ice creams such as Mars which combines both elements and ice cream with elements of cookies. These are still very much popular among ice cream lovers.
Generally the market is into three major segments namely Premium brands, Standard brands and private labels.
Premium brands compete on the basis of indulgent flavours, coating, topping or extras. For example Magnum ice cream bars boost the use of Belgian chocolates in its coatings. Premium branded ice creams have higher butter fat and are creamier in texture. According to a research by Research and Markets, These brands of ice cream are more preferred than other brands by 79.9%. Consumers are drawn towards premium and luxurious ice cream brands with nuts (e.g. almond, pistachio).
Standard brands compete on the basis of affordability and wide availability. It still has variety of flavours, but not as rich in flavour or texture like the premium brands, it is also less creamy with lesser butter fat.
The Private labels are the traditionally homemade ice creams. They engage the services of ice cream factories that have the capital, infrastructure and resources that these homemade makers do not have. Basically, it’s a co-packaging relationship that exists whereby the ice cream maker comes with their recipe and flavour and produces by leasing a factory for a period.
Ben and Jerry’s compete in the premium brand segment.
CONSUMER BUYING BEHAVIOUR
The ice cream market is moving towards ´premiunisation” (people tend to go more for the premium brands). Ice cream is usually consumed by people in all geographical segments, but those who reside in cosmopolitan cities like London, New York, Sydney tend to consume more ice cream than those in other areas. This is not only due to the fact that they have the purchasing means, but because people in these areas are always the first to try out new flavours and keep up with the trends.
With higher disposable incomes and higher purchasing power, consumers most times buy ice cream as a reward to them and find themselves indulging their cravings. Sales of ice cream products are higher during summer. Initially people enjoyed visiting ice cream parlours to purchase and eat their ice cream, but now the take away is a huge of the consumer buying pattern.