Ben & Jerry’s is an ice cream brand that started in Vermont in 1979 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. Originally started as a small parlour business, it saw steady expansion in its distribution over time. Its acquisition by Unilever in 2000 allowed the brand to undergo worldwide distribution through tapping on the conglomerate’s logistics and distribution expertise. Faced with an ever changing business environment and dynamic consumer preferences, Ben & Jerry’s has adopted unique strategies to boost its competitiveness.
Macro-environmental Factor: Technological
Due to advances in technology, smartphone availability and use is far more widespread than in the past. According to a study done by Ericsson, Singapore ranks number 1 in terms of smartphone use. This widespread availability has led to increased access to the internet, especially social networking websites, thereby creating a highly viable avenue for marketers to reach their consumers. This is especially true for Ben & Jerry’s, which has a target market of affluent teenagers and young adults, who are precisely the group which is tech savvy and where smartphone use is the most prevalent. Therefore, technological factors have led to Ben & Jerry’s using social media extensively to market their products.
In addition, Ben & Jerry’s is able to use technology as a means of two way communication with their customers. On top of marketing their products, Facebook has been put to use to actively engage consumers through competitions, product preference voting, and comments. This has transformed the scope of marketing activities, and can be seen in how Ben & Jerry’s adopted a mascot campaign to promote their “Maple Tree Hugger” flavour in Singapore. Their mascot took photos with cool poses with members of the public, and these photos were subsequently posted to their Facebook page. This attracted comments and “likes” from people who were “tagged” in these photos as well as their friends, generating an increased level of traffic for their Facebook page. Staffing had to be provided to upkeep and maintain engagement on the Facebook page, while useful information on preferences and response to different types of marketing activities online and their effect on sales could be easily measured.
Lastly, improvements in technology have also led to an improvement in the quality of off-the-shelf ice cream. Although refrigeration has been widely available in Singapore for a very long time, lapses or problems with in product handling and maintaining an effective cold chain have led to a compromise in the quality of off-the-shelf ice cream. Consumers may find ice cream that is laden with flakes of ice, rather than smooth cream, due to heat shock. This used to mean that in some situations, expensive high quality ice cream did not taste much better than the much cheaper lower end brands such as Nestle or Walls. Hence, not many locations had the capability to retail Ben & Jerry’s at their optimum quality. Today, with improved and more widespread improvements in cold chain technology, Ben & Jerry’s is able to distribute its products to a wider range of locations, hence allowing easier access to consumers.
Micro-environmental factor: Competitors
Ben & Jerry’s has a number of key competitors in the market with varying product positioning and target market segments. A summary on the prices of the competitors’ products is shown in figure 1. As shown in figure 1, Ben & Jerry’s has the highest price per ml, above Haagen Dazs and Movenpick. Fig 1
Brand| Type| Retail Price ($)| Price ($) / Litre|
Ben & Jerry’s| Tub| 14.35/473ml| 30.34|
Haagen Dazs| Tub| 14.85/500ml| 29.70|
Andersen’s| Tub| 12.15/500ml| 24.30|
Movenpick| Tub| 18.80/900ml| 20.90|
Wall’s Selection| Tub| 6.20/465ml| 13.33|
Dreyers| Tub| 9.60/887ml| 10.82|
Wall’s Generic| Tub| 5.15/1500ml| 3.43|