2017 was a year of disruption in the ice cream industry. Smaller previously little heard of companies managed to gain share over more established brands in a very short period of time. The stand out example is Halo Top, whose revenue has risen sharply in recent years. This spotlight report will feature other brands that follow certain themes and explore why these brands have caused disruption, as well as which themes could be next to disrupt the market.
Brand disruption through healthier variants is moving on from (often maligned) fat free and low fat versions; lower sugar and thus lower calorie options are catching the attention of the health-conscious consumer.
Although less recent, the launch of alcohol-infused ice-cream brands is picking up pace and previously unheard of companies are now hitting the shelves of major retailers. Currently, geographic availability is limited primarily to North America but is becoming increasingly popular in some Western European countries. The brands in question do not yet command significant market share. Nevertheless, the decision of Häagen-Dazs to enter the fray signifies the emergence of a new frontier in brand disruption, while rivals such as ArcticBuzz boast a vodka base and much higher alcohol content.
The themes emerging in brand disruption from the identified examples largely derive from a commitment to NPD, for example Rud utilising vegetable charcoal dye to create Black Ice, ArcticBuzz creating a workable vodka/ice cream formula and Halo Top finding successful sugar substitutes for its ice cream product.
The example of Magnum in Thailand is particularly instructive. At 5-6% market share across 2008-2011, its subsequent success shows that aggressive marketing, relaunches to create the impression of a dynamic brand and innovative thinking (here with the launch of Magnum Café, which results in consumers helping with the marketing when they post videos/photos) can disrupt a market with an existing product. The brand now commands 23.4% market share in Thailand.
Entry into niche categories has been the most common disruption type among the examples presented. Companies are targeting parts of the ice cream industry that they know to be an up-and-coming new trend. No doubt as these categories become saturated, companies will look towards what the next new niche type of ice cream will be in order to achieve the level of success that Halo Top has achieved, for example, or possibly even more.
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