Thursday, July 16, 2020

Summer Inspiration Series: Connect with Consumers Through Limited-Edition and Seasonal Offerings

The “Summer Inspiration Series” of Friday blogs is all about stepping out of our comfort zone in terms of innovation. Why not? We’re already operating in an unprecedented manner. Some blogs may explore new concepts in “other” food and beverage categories and discuss how they may apply to dairy, others may focus on new consumer behaviors and brainstorm on how dairy foods processors may respond in coming months. 

Today let’s talk about connecting with consumers through limited-edition and seasonal offerings. But first…Happy National Ice Cream Month! Make sure you enjoy a scoop or two on National Ice Cream Day, which is celebrated on the third Sunday of July in the U.S.

U.S. ice cream marketers are doing a great job with promotions and innovation this ice cream season. And it’s paying off. Consumers appreciate the comfort and enjoyment of ice cream during these uncertain times and marketers are keeping them entertained with new products, flavors and marketing.

(Scroll down for COVID-19 ice cream sales trend data.)

Ice cream and frozen novelty sales continue to boom, according to IRI. What’s important to note is the growing inflationary gap between dollar gains and volume gains. Consumers are starting to pay more for food, including ice cream, and it shows in the numbers. As we enter a recession, it will be interesting to see what luxuries consumers splurge on. Ice cream has historically been one.

In early April I wrote about taking quarantine time to reboot your brand and develop inspirational messaging for COVID-19 marketing efforts. Many of you listened! If you missed the blog, you can link to it HERE.

Limited-edition and seasonal offerings keep consumers interested and coming back for more. They are often willing to dip into their pockets for a product that may not be stocked the next time they shop. 

High Road Craft Ice Cream is embracing the limited-edition flavors concept during National Ice Cream month. The company is celebrating with limited-edition, hand-crafted in small batch pints, one flavor for every day in July. They are available on the company’s online store in limited quantities. 

Here’s a sampling of what they’ve produced:

July 10: Salt & Pepper – salty sweet cream base with salt and pepper caramel and pecans

July 11: Cannoli – ricotta ice cream with chocolate chunk and pie crust

July 12: Mint and Chocolate – mint ice cream with chocolate cookie dough and Stracciatella

July 13: Tres Leches – three milk ice cream with praline pound cake pieces

July 14: Cherry Pie – cherry ice cream with jammy cherries and pie crust

July 15: Salty Snacks – sweet cream with peanut brittle, chocolate covered pretzels and a peanut butter swirl

July 16: Coffee and Cacao – roasted coffee base with Stracciatella 

July 17: Georgia Peach Crisp – sweet cream with peach jam and oat crisp

July 18: Roasted Strawberry – roasted strawberry ice cream with strawberry jam

Sundae – Vanilla ice cream, jammy cherries, fudge caramel and praline peanuts
Brownie Sundae – Milk chocolate chip ice cream, chocolate chunk and brownies 

During these uncertain times, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams has prioritized offering flavors that transport you to another time and place. The company’s new feel-good collection was inspired by state fairs, a slice of Americana that will take you back to the summers of your childhood. 

Because state fairs have been canceled due to COVID-19, Jeni’s created its own virtual state fair experience on Instagram (@jenisstatefair). Viewers may explore the fairgrounds by tapping the photo tags—from boozy drink recipes at the Frosé Float to your new favorite summer playlist at the Brambleberry Bandstand—and play midway-style games with prizes throughout the month, including the chance to win a year’s worth of ice cream.

With the virtual state fair comes a new limited-edition flavor every Thursday for the next five weeks. The pints may be purchased in Jeni’s shops and online. The first offering was Watermelon Taffy, a flavor that directors of actual state fairs across the country picked as their personal favorite. This past week Wildberry Lavender rolled out. After that comes Orange Blossom Chiffon (July 23), Atlantic Beach Pie (July 30) and Sun-Popped Corn (August 6).

“We love the energy, color and flavor of a great state fair,” says Founder Jeni Britton Bauer. “From a flavor, art and design standpoint, we asked ourselves, if we were to hold our own state fair, what would we want it to be? What would it look like? The answer is a Jeni’s-fied mix of our memories of summer, vibes from the midway, and our imagination, in a way that only we could do.”

Check out these flavor concepts:

Atlantic Beach Pie – There is an old Southern legend that warns diners not to eat dessert after a seafood meal. Atlantic Beach Pie was the lone exception with its salty cracker crust, lemon custard filling and whipped cream topping. Jeni recreated this Southern staple with sweet cream ice cream and tart lemon custard adorned with homemade saltine streusel.

Orange Blossom Chiffon – This variety is sweet yet tart with tangerine and orange flavors. It is extra creamy and aerated for a chiffon-like texture. 

Sun-Popped Corn – The popcorn in this flavor is popped using the power of sunshine. The folks at BjornQorn in New York’s Hudson Valley use solar power to heat kettles filled with kernels. Jeni’s adds this crisp, sun-popped corn directly into fresh dairy, infusing every inch with the flavor and aroma of addicting buttery popcorn. 

Watermelon Taffy – Meant to taste like watermelon sour candy, this one has a puckery fruit flavor from a little watermelon and plenty of citric acid. It has a unique flavor twist from the addition of fresh cultured buttermilk and yogurt, which is made for Jeni’s by a nearby fifth-generation Ohio dairy.

Wildberry Lavender – This variety combines the flavors of steam-distilled lavender buds, cold-pressed orange zest and blackcurrants. To some, it tastes like fruit cereal milk. To others, it’s the flavor of springtime. 

It’s time to get busy creating flavors that peak consumers’ curiosity. It’s going to be long winter for many. Limited-edition and seasonal flavors may help pass the time. 

Again, don’t forget to get yourself a scoop or two this Sunday. Happy National Ice Cream Day!
(Scroll down for COVID-19 ice cream sales trend data.)

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