Ben & Jerry’s is a very famous ice-cream brand, founded in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield and is now a division of the British-Dutch Unilever conglomerate. Since it has been bought by Unilever in 2000, this brand dominates the ice-cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet market.
This success can be explained by Ben & Jerry’s strategy, based on two major points: a strong distribution network (franchised shops, large-scale retailing, shops), and an efficient communication strategy (blogs, contests, advertising) which promotes the company’s values.
Indeed, since the very beginning, the brand has always supported specific values based on sustainable development and social policies. The company has always preferred environmentally responsible policies in production such as fair trade and small producers. It has also always tried to improve social well-being, for example, by promoting the return of marginalized people to a regular working environment.
However, the brand supremacy is not absolutely complete. Ben & Jerry’s has to deal with other giants in the ice-cream sector. In the basic ice-cream market, Unilever and Nestle are truly in competition. In the premium sector, Ben & jerry’s has to compete against Häagen-Dazs, within a very specific offer: products are clearly different than the traditional ice-cream offer and are a bit more expensive. Even though the offer is quite specific, Ben & Jerry’s still needs to be attentive to its development in order to keep its place in the ice-cream market.
In order to understand Ben & Jerry’s strategy, we will establish its SWOT. Thus, we will clarify the company’s strengths and weaknesses and also opportunities and threats that Ben & Jerry’s might need to deal with.
I) Macro environment:
1) Politico-legal environment
There are real governmental actions in favor of the protection of the environment. The politico-legal environment is more eco-friendly than ever. Every measure in favor of the environment is appreciated and highlighted. Thus, having eco-friendly values can be a real value-added. Ben & Jerry’s can communicate properly on its “green” actions.
Actions promoting a healthy alimentation, consumers wanting to consume better products are new segments that could be very interesting for Ben & Jerry’s development. This new tendency is clearly in favor of Ben & Jerry’s since it correlated with its values.
2) Economic environment
In North America, the purchasing power is important, and the share of domestic budget dedicated to food is very important. Thus, it is a perfect match for Ben & jerry’s growth.
In the rest of the world however, the demand is not entirely satisfied. The penetration rate in Europe (and especially in France, where a person only eats 6 L per year versus 20 in the USA), is not complete, whereas the purchasing power is quite high. Europe could be a great area with a high potential of development.
Ben & Jerry’s should also take into account the growing demand in Asia and in South America. There purchasing power is growing, and they are clearly in demand of top of the range products.
Thus, there is a real potential to a progressive growth of the brand which implies an increase of market parts (+ 40% in 2006).
3) Cultural environment
In Europe, because of the abundance of the offer, consumers want differentiated products with higher quality. Since the traditional market of ice-cream is quite saturated, premium products like Ben & Jerry’s are a new and innovative offer, which seduces consumers.
Moreover, more and more importance is attached to a responsible way to consume which meets Ben & Jerry’s values: fair trade, small producers, and “green” actions. Responsible brands are preferred to the others; it is now a real selection criteria in consumers behavior. Thus, being positioned on this area since...