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Sorensen: I(ce) Scream, You Scream For Popular Treat

ice cream

by Cindy Sorensen/founder and CEO, The Grocery Group

Who doesn’t love ice cream? Apparently, it is not the U.S.; we rank either No. 1 or  No. 2 (depending on the source), in total per capita gallons consumed.

Cindy Sorensen
Cindy Sorensen

Here are the statistics:

  •  The per capita consumption in the U.S. is 5.5 gallons.
  •  Household penetration of ice cream over a six-month time period in 2019 was 87 percent.
  •  Occasion frequency is 28.5 servings per year.
  •  Twenty-five percent of consumers say ice cream is their favorite dessert.
  •  Children between the ages of 6 and 12 represent 62 percent of all ice cream volume consumed.
  •  The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the ice cream category from 2018-23 is expected to grow by 3.3 percent.
  •  The top selling flavors are vanilla, chocolate and cookies ‘n’ cream.
  •  Our favorite toppings are:
    Whipped cream
    Caramel sauce
    Chocolate sauce
    Hot fudge
    Peanut butter cups
    Strawberries
    Gummy bears
    Brownie bites
    Cookie dough pieces
    Sprinkles
    Maraschino cherries
  • Top ice cream trends to watch in 2020:
    Health/calorie conscious
    Functional ingredients
    Indulgence
    Customization

Now, let’s get down to business. If you are a retailer, what do you do with all this information?

As always, I immediately think of category management, cross-merchandising and innovative destination concepts to differentiate from other grocery and ice cream retailers and distribution channels.

For a growing category with high household penetration, it’s imperative a retailer dedicates appropriate shelf/freezer space to offer variety that fulfills consumer trends and reduces out-of-stocks of consumer favorites. With the peak summer selling months approaching, now is the time to conduct a category review to determine the best assortment of ice cream and toppings.

New category entrants are being presented now for distribution in the summer. If there is not enough space in the case to accommodate improving category assortment, look to adjacent categories to determine if there has been an overallocation of space to a declining category. You may want to consider a segmentation of your category not by brand, but by trend/type, such as: indulgence, health-conscious, dairy free and/or functional ingredients. Shopper research has indicated shoppers often look for a segment before they look for a brand.

Cross-merchandising with complementary items such as toppings, cones and cups should be included to increase incremental sales. Freezer door shelves, shippers, j-hooks and displays of these items will make a difference to the bottom line and will help increase margins during promotion periods.

Consumers love customization. Might your store be able to accommodate a self-serve ice cream bar? Consumers can mix and match ice cream flavors and toppings. This idea has been very successful in freestanding yogurt shops, but I have yet to see it in a grocery store. You could offer a single-serving size to be enjoyed in-store while shopping and multi-serve for take-home consumption. This ice cream bar can differentiate your store and create a destination for customized ice cream. What a great idea to fulfill this growing consumer trend.

What other ideas might there be to capitalize on our love for ice cream? You can’t go wrong with keeping your shoppers happy in this category.

Cindy Sorensen is the founder and CEO of The Grocery Group, which focuses on developing leadership in the grocery industry. The Grocery Group’s expertise is in developing innovation in merchandising, category management, distribution and promotion strategy, as well as digital and website development. The group also is working with the industry and colleges and universities to attract, recruit and retain a talented workforce in a competitive employment market. Working with manufacturers and food startups to develop products to fulfill changing consumer demands also is of special interest to The Grocery Group. Reach Sorensen at [email protected]

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