Magazine article Marketing

Haagen-Dazs Pushes Cold Front across the World

Magazine article Marketing

Haagen-Dazs Pushes Cold Front across the World

Article excerpt

Haagen-Dazs pushes cold front across world

When Ian Martin, Grand Metropolitan's chief executive for foods, was pondering the fruits of GrandMet's Pillsbury acquisition, he thought that Haagen-Dazs, the Rolls-Royce of US ice-creams, might be a prime candidate for disposal. As the dust started to settle, he began to rethink.

By the time the results meeting came around he was saying that if he could have any job at GrandMet other than his own, it would be heading Haagen-Dazs. And, instead of handing out the customary bottle of GrandMet-owned Scotch, he was playing analysts with ice-cream.

Why? Because GrandMet is falling in love with the idea of global brands, and thinks Haagen-Dazs is just waiting to become one. Over the next five years, it anticipates sales of the super-premium ice-cream will more than triple to $1 bn a year, or 5% of the world ice-cream market.

Ambitious dreams are being backed up by unorthodox, advertising-free methods. But the strategy rests on Grand Met's ability to turn a debilitating weakness into a great marketing strength.

Haagen-Dazs has been around in the US for 30 years. The name is completely phoney (it was dreamt up to sound Scandinavian) but its ingredients are 100% genuine. Only fresh cream and natural ingredients are used. There are no emulsifiers or stabilisers, natural or otherwise, which also makes it the stuff of distribution nightmares. If customers don't get their precious pots snug into their freezers within 30 minutes of purchase, they end up with a Belgium Choc Choc soup that will never refreeze.

Not the making of a world beater you might say. But Justin King, managing director of Haagen-Dazs UK and former head of European marketing development, thinks it is. In its home market it is in a class of its own, and over in Europe it is the right ice-cream for the right time.

King knows about marketing new ice-creams. While children are partial to sickly artificial flavours, the children's market is static compared to the fast-growing adult, luxury sector. He helped launch Mars ice-cream in the UK, and that, he says broke "ground in the premium market".

Mars ice-creams are expected to grab 10% of the UK market. "It got consumers used to a higher quality than they had been used to before, and established the idea that quality has a price." Now he intends to leapfrog Mars with Haagen-Dazs.

But how? For such vaunting ambitions, the first steps look exceedingly modest. Stage one of the strategy is based on a chillingly simple idea: to become the world's biggest ice-cream brand and get into as many mouths as possible. And, to start with, get the right mouths, so that the right aura spreads.

First target is the gourmet market. Haagen-Dazs was first found in Harrod's then in up-market delicatessens, now quality hotels and restaurants. Having the name Haagen-Dazs printed on menus is a good way of getting it known in the right places.

Next step is to open posh ice-cream parlours, such as those recently opened in London and in Brighton. The terracotta floors and other fittings in the Brighton shop alone cost [pounds]200,000. So it obviously doesn't make the best of retailing sense. But says King, "This allows people to sample the product in the best possible setting." Among the nine million people who will wander through Leicester Square next year, as many as 750,000 could drop into the Haagen-Dazs bar for a taster, he hopes. …

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