Thursday, May 10, 2012
Ice cream as personal stimulus package
Recession aside, ice cream and frozen desserts have long had a huge consumer following in the U.S., both at retail and on the foodservice side. According to a March 2012 survey conducted by Packaged Facts, almost three out of four U.S. adults (73%) eat ice cream or frozen desserts. Not surprisingly, consumers enjoy more of these treats in the summer, but the recent unusually warm winter boosted business during the first quarter. Some 86% of adults who eat ice cream/frozen desserts have done so at home (or someone else’s home) within the last six months, two out of five have bought ice cream or frozen desserts at a scoop shop for take-out during this timeframe, and one out of four has enjoyed these products sitting down in a scoop shop and/or at a restaurant after a meal.
In the retail arena, recent launches making a big splash include frozen Greek yogurt, TCBY frozen yogurt, Unilever’s Magnum ice cream bars, and Nestlé’s new Wonka Ice Cream brand. That Mediterranean Diet to Willie Wonka arc tells the story: while households with children remain the heaviest consumers of ice cream, the industry continues to shift toward premium and superpremium formulations that target adult palates. Store brands correspondingly have gotten more sophisticated—think Wegman's Food You Feel Good About Organic Dark Chocolate Ice Cream. The main reason, of course, is the aging of the U.S. population. Older consumers might or might not count calories, but they are more likely to want their calories to count. Another is that self-indulging adults are less sensitive to price changes. Flavor is critical to product success, but witty product names and marketing campaigns don’t hurt, either. And while comfort has been the name of the game during the recession, consumers are likely to swing to celebratory splurges as the economy improves.