UK: Unilever launches ice cream NPD offensive

Unilever UK has unveiled a host of ice cream NPD aimed at driving impulse sales – and tapping what it claims is “the biggest incremental sales opportunity in FMCG in 2014”.

New Unilever products launching into the handheld market include Cornetto lines such as the 160ml Choc ‘n’ Ball (rsp: £1.75), a cone with a large portion of ice cream on top. 

The new product, which is being marketed as the “ultimate manly ice cream”, consists of a cone topped with a chocolate-coated ball of ice cream. Unilever said it “caters specifically for male consumers seeking a substantial snack offering”.

Kids are being targeted with a bubblegum-flavoured Calippo (rsp: 90p) and the rollout of Funny Feet into the impulse market. For adults, there’s a new mojito-flavoured Solero (rsp: £1.20 single) that contains trace amounts of rum.

Meanwhile, the boom in Greek sales has inspired a new Ben & Jerry’s Greek-style frozen yoghurt in 150ml tubs for impulse and 500ml take-home tubs.

Many supermarkets were missing out on sales by not placing ice cream freezers at the front of store with sandwiches and soft drinks, said Unilever ice cream director Noel Clarke. “Ice cream is the biggest incremental sales opportunity in fmcg in 2014,” he claimed, adding that Brits ate far less ice cream than consumers in countries with similar climates, such as Ireland. “The game changer in unlocking impulse shopping is to get ice cream right in front of consumers – do that and Brits will eat it more often.”

Unilever is also spending £13m on its biggest-ever ad push for Magnum and is widening distribution of silver Marc du Champagne Magnum, currently only in Tesco. Carte d’Or, meanwhile, is being revamped, and expanded with the five-strong Gelateria range.

In a statement Unilever said: “The new products will launch to grow current and anticipated consumer and category trends – such as the growth seen in frozen yoghurt, luxury desserts and handheld formats and the trend towards consuming ice cream as a snack.”

Some UK ice cream trends…

Traditional ice cream cones are no longer in vogue in the UK, with consumers instead opting for 500ml tubs and luxury brands, according to Kantar Worldpanel.

In 2013, ice cream lovers in the UK purchased the equivalent of 22 million more 500ml tubs than the year before, The Grocer reports.

Data from Kantar showed that overall volume sales of ice cream rose 3.4 per cent year-on-year to 341.1-million litres, while value sales grew 6.9 per cent to £839.6m.

But cones proved less popular, with volume sales down 5.5 per cent. Instead, consumers opted for more high-end products, with volume sales of luxury ice cream tubs rising by 18.1 per cent.