Home » Driving Sales in the Changing Ice Cream Market

Driving Sales in the Changing Ice Cream Market

brown cone with white sprinkled icing


Ice cream volumes have softened due to consumers cutting back on discretionary spending and demanding more sustainable and high-quality products. Fruity flavors are gaining popularity, along with seasonal flavors like eggnog. Sherbet and sorbet are growing because of their healthier attributes. Plant-based ice cream is experiencing declines, while natural and free-from claims, as well as sustainable packaging, are becoming more important to consumers. Independent retailers can drive sales by focusing on flavor innovation, quality, and meeting consumer expectations.

As the summer ice cream season comes to an end, independent retailers in the ice cream market are facing new challenges resulting from changing consumer preferences. Consumers are reducing their discretionary spending, leading to a decrease in ice cream volumes. However, the total category dollar value has increased by approximately 9.4%, suggesting that consumers are willing to spend more on quality ice cream products.

While vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry remain popular flavors, there is a growing demand for unique options such as peanut butter, caramel, and chocolate chip. Additionally, fruit flavors like peaches and cream, pumpkin, banana, and blueberry are gaining popularity among consumers. These trends indicate that independent retailers should consider offering a diverse range of flavors to cater to different tastes.

Seasonal flavors have always been a hit in various product categories, but the ice cream industry has seen fewer limited-time offer (LTO) launches. One breakout seasonal flavor is eggnog, although it currently represents only a small portion of the overall market. By experimenting with seasonal flavors, independent retailers can entice customers to try new and exciting options.

Furthermore, fruity flavors are driving growth in sorbet and sherbet due to their perceived health benefits compared to traditional ice cream. Sherbet has experienced an increase in dollar value, while both dollars and volume have grown for sorbet. Independent retailers can tap into this trend by offering a variety of sorbet and sherbet options, highlighting their low-calorie, fat-free, and dairy-free characteristics.

In contrast, the plant-based ice cream segment has seen a decline in recent years. Despite this, plant-based ice cream still maintains strong penetration in the market with a high level of repeat purchases. Oat milk and coconut are growing in popularity as plant-based ingredients, outpacing almond milk. Coffee-flavored nondairy ice cream has shown significant growth and should be considered by independent retailers looking to cater to the plant-based market.

While low or no-sugar products have gained traction in the food and beverage industry, the ice cream category has been slower to follow suit. Consumers still expect ice cream to have a certain level of sweetness. However, independent retailers can still appeal to health-conscious consumers by offering natural and free-from claims, such as gluten-free or organic, to meet their preferences and expectations.

To continue driving sales, ice cream brands are focusing on aspects such as quality, sourcing, and sustainable packaging. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their purchases, so highlighting sustainable, recyclable, and compostable packaging can attract eco-conscious customers. Independent retailers can differentiate themselves by emphasizing their commitment to quality ingredients, responsible sourcing, and environmentally friendly packaging practices.

In summary, independent retailers in the ice cream industry can expect softer volumes as consumers prioritize sustainable and high-quality products while cutting back on discretionary spending. To drive sales, retailers should diversify their flavor offerings, incorporating both popular and unique flavors. Additionally, tapping into the demand for healthy options through sorbet and sherbet can help attract health-conscious customers. Independent retailers should also consider the plant-based market, particularly the growing popularity of oat milk and coconut flavors. Lastly, a focus on quality, responsible sourcing, and sustainable packaging can resonate with consumers and help retailers stand out in an evolving market.

Discover more from RetailerUplift

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading