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Jerry’s Marketing Strategy

Ben & Jerry’s is one of the leading brands within the frozen dessert market due to a variety of factors. This report will look at those factors exploring the concepts behind each one to justify its position within the market. The company was founded in 1978, Vermont, USA where Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened their first Scoop Shop in a renovated gas station. Since then over 300 more have opened within the USA, and the company has branched out into the international market with Scoop Shops in 34 different countries including the UK, Australia and Singapore. In 2000 Unilever, the world’s largest ice cream producer and current market leader bought Ben & Jerry’s for just over £169m. As part of the takeover deal it was agreed that Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, would still manage it brands integrity and watch over its social mission.

One of the main factors of the brands success is placed within its marketing strategy. Ben & Jerry’s marketing mix provides a range of controllable aspects in which used to meet with the target audience. The main element of this marketing mix lies within the product itself, a luxurious treat with a variety of exciting and unique flavours,

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along with the brands social and economic mission. Ben & Jerry’s are very proud to commit to a wide selection of social, environmental and economic projects on a local, national and international scale; these are all advertised on the company website as well as gaining coverage in many news articles within the area the project is involved with.

The company website also includes three mission statements; the product mission, the social mission and the economic mission, each providing the basis of what the company is founded upon. All of the things concerning these mission statements are all included as part of the Ben & Jerry’s product, which in essence means that by purchasing the ice-cream product you support the social and economic mission of the brand.

Pricing is very important when marketing a product, as this is the only element within the marketing mix which generates an income as the other factors are a variable cost for the company. Competition and company objectives are considered when planning the pricing of a product. Ben & Jerry’s choose to use a premium pricing strategy, this means that the products are priced at the higher end of the market, however this does not deter consumers as the premium price is supported by a high quality product and brand image. However recently Ben & Jerry’s have increased the price to an average of £4.18 and according to Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Editor for the Telegraph, it is now ‘above the “psychologically important” £4 barrier’ this is due to the current inflation in the food market.

Ben & Jerry’s marketing mix also uses place as a key factor in its success. It is primarily based in the US where it originated, but its international market is quickly expanding, most recently with the reopening of stores in Israel. Products are currently available from a variety of outlets, mainly within supermarkets and convenience stores. There are also individual Scoop Shops open, and many Scoop Stations open within shopping centres and cinemas. According to the Mintel report on UK Cinemas, June 2010, Odeon the largest cinema chain within the UK has over 100 cinemas and Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Stations in the majority of its properties.

Cineworld, another leading chain also offers Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Stations within many of their cinemas, adding 13 additional outlets during 2009. Although not included in the Mintel report was Vue cinemas, which according to their website boasts a substantial amount of Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Stations in their cinemas across the UK. Another Mintel report on UK On-board Catering, May 2010, shows that Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream is available within the Food Court on all P&O Ferries. This growth within the brand means that the products are more widely available and are now reaching a larger target market.

The last aspect of the marketing mix is promotion, this is used to communicate with the public and inform them of the product. It is also used to influence the target market into purchasing their product, by promoting it as being the best. Advertising is one of the key factors when marketing a product; however Ben & Jerry’s initially aimed to stay away from the conventional advertising route and relied heavily on word of mouth as they believed that the money they would spend on advertising would be better used if given to charities. Eventually after expanding the business to more countries, including the UK, Ben & Jerry’s decided to begin advertising campaigns to promote their products.

In 1998 Claire Beale, the editor of Campaign magazine, reported that Ben & Jerry’s were to launch their first major UK advertising campaign ‘Ben & Jerry’s is putting £500,000 behind a summer campaign in London and the South East, which will include press and 48-sheet posters as well as ads on London Underground stations.’ Since this initial advertising campaign, Unilever bought Ben & Jerry’s which allowed the brand to have a greater presence in the super-premium sector. The takeover also meant promotion would become a more important part of the brands marketing mix, and the introduction of a cinema campaign began.

This campaign is well suited to the brand as it currently has outlets within many of the cinemas within the UK, making the product accessible to the target market. Ben & Jerry’s campaigns usually have a humorous aspect and more often than not include the iconic hand-drawn cows and pastures by Woody Jackson which are associated with the brand. Ben & Jerry’s occasionally introduce offers such as ‘buy one get one free’ or money-off promotions usually within larger supermarket chains. These are cleverly devised within the marketing mix and only last for a limited amount of time, they increase consumer demand and are sometimes used when a new flavour is launched.

Ben & Jerry’s sometimes create limited-edition campaigns when a specific event is taking place, in the US ‘Butter Pecan’ was renamed ‘Yes, Pecan!’ to mark Barack Obama’s inauguration as President of the USA, this was due to his campaigns uniting theme being ‘Yes, we can!’ Not only was the flavour renamed, Ben & Jerry’s donated proceeds from the sales of the flavour within January to the Common Cause Education Fund. See appendix 1a for an image of the campaign. All of these aspects together have been used specifically to create this successful marketing mix, allowing the brand to be one of the market leaders, especially in the UK. Passport GMID confirms this, with Table One showing the brands shares within the UK ‘take-home’ sector, in which it has remained the market leader since 2007.

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