Although temperatures have soared on occasion this year, it’s often been at the wrong time for ice cream consumption. As a result, value sales growth fell back from the 2013 high of 3.4% for tubs and 9.6% for handheld ice creams, to 0.6% and 0.4% .

Star performer Magnum celebrated its 25th anniversary in style with a Champagne-flavoured ice cream and impressive value and volume growth. Unilever’s brand building director for ice cream, Noel Clarke, credits the strong performance of Magnum, and Unilever’s other key brands, to two factors: “First, we stepped up our ad spend by nearly 50%. Second, there have been some pretty big launches from Unilever this year, notably Magnum Champagne and Ben & Jerry’s frozen yoghurt.”

Ice cream tpt

Another key strand of Unilever’s strategy in 2014 has been working with retailers on how to get more footfall into frozen - using ice cream as a kind of Trojan horse.” One driver has been creating chilled meal-deal packages with ice cream as the dessert option. Some retailers have also trialled moving impulse freezers into more prominent areas of the store to offer either frozen pizza-and-ice cream deals or tie-ins with BBQ products. “Where that type of activity is happening, it’s proving successful,” says Clarke.

Magnum also upped promotions. Accordingly its average price fell 4.4% during. While such activity paid off, the same can’t be said for Cornetto, which saw value fall 9% on volumes down 3.5%, despite a host of NPD this year, such as the addition of a cheesecake variant to the Cornetto Premium range, supported with deals.

Volumes also fell for Mars and Snickers as average price increased, suggesting the sector is still reliant on deals. Mars Ice Cream senior brand manager Sophie Shott suggests marketing can be just as effective: “There’s an opportunity to consider how we can promote value to our consumers beyond price.”

Such as premium NPD. Häagen-Dazs’ growth was driven partly by the Secret Sensations range, though a 6.3% fall in price suggests deals have been key too. Not that every posh launch has proven successful: sales of Magnum tubs, launched on trial in 2012, have sunk 75.8% to just £968k.


Top launch: Magnum Marc de Champagne Unilever

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Unilever launched Magnum with Marc de Champagne, backed by a £13m ad campaign.

The ice cream featured Magnum’s first-ever silver chocolate coating and a holographic wrapper, and has an in-home rsp of £2.99 (multipack) and £1.75 for out of home.

It went down a storm with consumers, says Unilever’s Noel Clarke. “The perennial challenge with ice cream is: after a long dark winter, how do you re-engage people? The answer is innovation.”