This was an interesting sector to research, given the time of year and the weather. Will ice cream products be snapped up for summer desserts or hot weather treats? Do shoppers feel tempted by seasonal new products, or will they choose old favourites?
We conducted the fieldwork on August 10 and 11 and found shoppers to be buying for the weekend, as well as for midweek indulgence with the hot summer weather.
Half of the shoppers we spoke to bought ice cream products once a week in the summer, with only 13% buying them that frequently in winter. Where shoppers bought all year round, they were more likely to increase their consumption in the warmer months.
Most shoppers (92%) had planned to buy ice cream in some format before coming to the store. This included specific dessert ideas, as well as indulgence or treat-type ice cream, typically in bar or lolly format. These were for both children and adults.
The shoppers who had not planned to buy were attracted by the tempting variety available, as well as by offers on their usual brands.
A significant 54% of shoppers were buying for their own consumption, while 36% were buying for family use.
Shoppers were tempted by the selection and value offered by own label and in many cases had a high level of loyalty and preference for the own-label products, which they felt offered better value. However, half still purchased branded products.
Taste was the most important reason for choosing a specific product, while 21% said a special offer prompted purchase. Nearly a quarter specified another reason, including a size that fitted their freezer, price and “because it’s light”.
Some 71% bought the same brand while three quarters did not consider another. They felt the same brand met their needs for quality and value, as well as providing a good selection to choose from. Where buying for children, familiarity was an issue.
Half of all shoppers were prepared to leave without purchasing if their preferred brand were out of stock, despite high levels of planned activity. Brand loyalty was high and 50% of shoppers were unprepared to consider a substitute product.
However, despite this brand loyalty, shoppers were tempted by a bargain, with nearly four fifths saying they would consider changing brands if there were an offer.
We asked shoppers if they had been attracted by anything on the freezer as they approached it, or in the freezer as they had a closer look.
The majority, 67%, said ‘No - nothing caught my eye’, but more than a third of shoppers said something did catch their attention.
Most commented on the fact that they had noticed a wide selection (41%), with packaging catching their eye.
However, 12% thought the category needed more offers and 16% thought there was too much variety and choice.
But on the whole there were very few negative comments about the display and little difficulty in navigating the selection on offer.