When it comes to disrupting an industry with innovative products and marketing, the ice cream industry may not be high up on your list of usual suspects.
Yet that’s exactly what’s happened as giants like Häagen-Dazs found out when small, agile newcomers started eating into their profits with lifestyle-themed ice cream.
In this week’s episode of Marketing on Tap, we look at how the little ice cream guys took on the giants at their own game, forcing the bigger corporations to start thinking like disruptor startups.
Settle back and enjoy this week’s topic, brought to you in the usual unscripted manner that you’ve come to expect when Sam and Danny take the mic.
If you prefer to listen on the go, the audio version of this week’s episode can be listened to below.
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Intro: Join marketers, authors, and craft beer enthusiasts Sam Fiorella and Danny Brown, for a hoppy discussion on all things digital over a cheeky pint or two. Topics on the menu include influence marketing, social media, brand advocacy, and a taste testing of real world digital marketing campaigns. Some are smooth, others don’t sit so well. Don’t forget to stick around for last call where the boys will serve you up one final marketing takeaway that you can go out and apply in the real world. It’s a great primer before the weekend.
Sam Fiorella: Welcome back to another episode of Marketing on Tap. This is my mate Danny Brown, I am Sam Fiorella … or I guess we should start probably calling this Sam and Danny’s reason to drink at work.
Danny Brown: Yeah. That’s [crosstalk 00:00:48].
Sam Fiorella: … our excuse to drink at work. That’s why we do this, after all. Today, Danny, I want to talk about ice cream, and it’s kind of, maybe not the best topic given how cold it is today outside and in this office, today. We’re really cold today you guys. But, there was a really interesting article that inspired something in me, in Marketing Week. It’s called, “How a Flurry of New Brands are Shaking up the Ice cream Market.” Long story short, what it’s talking about is, how smaller upstarts, like I think it’s Halo Top, are creating vegan ice cream, organic ice cream, gluten free ice cream, dairy free ice cream. Basically, anything that’s not ice cream.
Danny Brown: Yeah.
Sam Fiorella: And how that’s really shaking up the market, and how they’re affecting the way that the larger brands are marketing their product, and what products their creating. So I thought it would be a really good conversation to have about how small fish jumping into a big pond. What can they do, and what are the ripple effects of that? I think this could be some good lessons for both small-
Danny Brown: … and the big guys.
Sam Fiorella: Brands and big brands at the same time. I want to get into that today, but first, why don’t you tell me what your [inaudible 00:02:03].
Danny Brown: Yeah. Sure. This should be an interesting one. It’s cold outside, like we know. This is a winter spiced ale. It’s from Big Rock Brewery who’s based over in Calgary, in Alberta.
Sam Fiorella: I like it already.
Danny Brown: [crosstalk 00:02:13] ’85 I think they were rare, they were created, 1985 they came into business, so they’ve been around a while. So this has got a malty sweetness, with notes of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, so you get that nice, crispy, warmth through there, with a crisp [fuggle 00:02:26] hop finish. It’s very low IBU, it’s almost at 12.5% IBU, that’s 6% ABV, so that brings up a little bit for the warmth. So let’s see what this is like.
Sam Fiorella: I think Robert might actually enjoy this one, but I wanna get my camera, hang on. As we taste this, I want Robert to try it. Cheers mate.
Danny Brown: Cheers guys.
Sam Fiorella: Cheers.
Danny Brown: That’s the most restrained reaction so far. I love it. You know what, that’s nice. I was expecting a bit more kick with the cinnamon, but the cinnamon doesn’t … you can smell the cinnamon, doesn’t come through quite as much as the [crosstalk 00:03:07]
Sam Fiorella: You know what, this is a hell of a lot better than an egg nog at Christmas time. I’m going to buy a case of this [crosstalk 00:03:13]
Danny Brown: … now is a great job [inaudible 00:03:16] this is really, really good.
Sam Fiorella: Thumbs up, this has got to be one of my faves that we’ve tried. I like it.
Sam Fiorella: There you go, even Robert, who hates almost every kind of bear that’s not warm and British, likes this one. So, that’s really a good thing. So, ice scream, the article basically talks about … I think it focuses on the brand Halo Top and the variety of really funky Instagramable type cartons that they’re creating and this variety of everything free, ice cream. The reason they came up with it three years ago when you started to go to these food shows and you start talking about vegan ice cream, and organic, you really had to do a lot of explaining to customers. So the bigger guys really weren’t getting into it because they’re so stuck in their numbers, they’re data crunching about what’s been selling over the last five years. There’s not a lot of predictive type indexing or predictive analytics that can come out of that because you don’t know … When you go backwards in terms of what’s selling, which is what most big companies do, it’s very difficult for that data to predict culture changes and what the tastes are going to be, whereas some of the younger guys have their ears on the ground. They’re talking to people, these products are being developed a lot of times by people who can’t eat something.
Danny Brown: Right, because of an allergy or whatever.
Sam Fiorella: Exactly. And so, they create something new. So what’s happening now, and what this article is saying is that the bigger guys like Unilever, General Mills and some of the other large conglomerates that own these ice cream manufacturers of various brands are now starting to make that because they have no choice. They’re being challenged by guys like Halo Top, and even though these craft … what they’re calling Kraft ice cream is really only a few percent up to 10%, I think in some markets. The total ice cream purchases, it’s still significant enough that the big boys are really are taking notice. So the conversation that I want to have the question I want to ask you is, why is it that some of the bigger guys that have massive market share don’t listen to what’s on the ground as much as maybe they could be to beat some of these upstarts?
Danny Brown: Well, I wonder some of it comes back to the product itself from this ice cream. So traditionally, it’s not been healthy for you.
Sam Fiorella: Yeah.
Danny Brown: So maybe if you’re a Haagen-Dazs, or a Unilever or whatever, you’re not expecting a healthy ice cream to come along and start taking a market share. So maybe not ignorance, but complacency about the fact that we know who eats ice cream; kids and pregnant moms or whatever, and that’s being really stereotypical, so I apologize. But they know who eats ice cream because they’re not basing it on lifestyle choice and a healthy [crosstalk 00:06:15]
Sam Fiorella: You know we’re going to get all kinds of [crosstalk 00:06:17]
Danny Brown: Well, I have. I apologized [crosstalk 00:06:20].
Sam Fiorella: You know what, complacency is a good word because when you take a look at a lot of the clients that we work with sometimes and even just what you read out there, the bigger they are, I know sometimes it’s more difficult when I suggest something really innovative. They’re like, slow your horses down, that’s just too crazy for us. And then two years later, they’re like, why haven’t you suggested this before? Why is it that we’re only doing it now? I think it goes back again, larger companies are … there’s an old expression that I think an old mentor of mine used to use all the time. When you’re a big company, you’re like the Queen Mary. To make the turn, you know what I mean? To get one of these yachts to turn, it takes forever, whereas when you’re more nimble, you’re a smaller company, you’re a speed boat. You can make the turns and be more agile and [inaudible 00:07:12] a lot easier than the larger companies.
Danny Brown: That buzz was right there, that was an amazing buzz word [crosstalk 00:07:16].
Sam Fiorella: Is anybody doing a bingo game for anytime we use a buzzword, a marketing buzz word?
Danny Brown: I hope not.
Sam Fiorella: We should probably do that. But anyway, complacency is a big thing and I think the internet is disrupting so much. We keep talking about how the internet is a big disruptor in our marketplace, but I think that these young upstarts, especially with the culture change, with millennials and what they are demanding from brands today in terms of their changing tastes, I think is a big thing. Some of the other industries, like we were talking about this just the other day, I think, how like Uber for example, has really disrupted the marketplace because they were more paying attention better than let’s say the taxi company, who else was there?
Danny Brown: You look at the food delivery guys, Domino’s Pizza using drones to deliver or driverless car and drones to deliver pizza.
Sam Fiorella: And that’s really changed the market share that that companies has had, because they’re appealing to a different audience, not just because of the pizza, but because they want tech part of it.
Danny Brown: Exactly.
Sam Fiorella: I think Blockbuster is another one.
Danny Brown: That Blockbuster did … well, we are Blockbuster [inaudible 00:08:24]
Sam Fiorella: Yeah. There’s no such thing as Blockbuster.
Danny Brown: There’s no, but even Netflix is getting challenged now. You look at Netflix and the streaming competitors and Disney is launching their own streaming service next year. So everybody’s looking at the original disruptors and how they can disrupt them, which is why-
Sam Fiorella: But is anybody really disrupting them? See, this is the thing and maybe this is a good conversation to have. Netflix really basically killed Blockbuster. Blockbuster was one of the largest video rental companies in the world and they were doing what some of the large ice cream companies that started this whole conversation we’re doing, is that they were just looking at past numbers and just doing more of the same and growing instead of keeping their ear to the ground and saying, what technology is going to be driving change, not just for the product but the way the product is delivered? With the ice cream, it’s more of a cultural thing about everybody wanting to eat healthier. So now, Netflix is the player when it comes to streaming, of course, Hulu has come out and Amazon Prime and Crave TV here in Canada. So there’s players, but none of them are actually doing anything different really. They’re emulating what these guys are doing, so at what point does Netflix and their ilk become the establishment and the big guys, and what can they do to not become-
Danny Brown: Like Blockbuster.
Sam Fiorella: Blockbuster.
Danny Brown: Yeah. Well, I think you’ve seen it with Netflix and the original series, they’ve put a lot of dollars in the original shows, movies, et cetera, and they get big people to star in them. So they know that they’ve got to keep them on their toes, especially with Disney launching. Because once Disney launches, you can expect Marvel products and anything like that to be pulled from Netflix to go over to Disney.
Sam Fiorella: DC in the comic book world, DC’s got their own streaming service now that’s been launched.
Danny Brown: I never knew that.
Sam Fiorella: I know you had DC guy [crosstalk 00:10:16].
Danny Brown: Yeah, it’s a big thing. Netflix, like I said, they are at the top of the pile now, and they have done a good job so far of remaining at the top of the pile buy offering safe 4K subscriptions if you got a 4K TV for two bucks extra. For example, original TV shows. But again, know Disney is not a startup, I guess you can look at Disney as a startup when it comes to the student service they’re going to offer. They got more dollars, but they’ve seen what works for Netflix.
Sam Fiorella: Yeah, what I’ve seen so far is they’re just copying.
Danny Brown: They’re just copying, but then you’ve got the … I guess the Originals, but you’ve got Star Wars universe, you’ve got the Marvel Universe.
Sam Fiorella: Yeah, but that’s not really anything that’s innovative though. Yeah, they’ve got the properties and maybe they’ve got an advantage in that they own so many licenses already, I guess to all of these different brands that they maybe have more source of original content to work from. It’ll be cheaper for them maybe to go out, but for me, I’d look at doing something to the effect of how do you stay ahead of the trend curve? You remember in the book when we wrote influence marketing, we were talking about trend currents-
Danny Brown: Versus current trends.
Sam Fiorella: … versus current trends. Guys like Amazon, and DC, and Hulu, they’re following the current trend. Whereas, if you follow trend currents, which is what’s going to happen three years from now that’s completely different than today because of changing technology, because of changing cultural patterns, changing attitudes, because of political socio economic conditions, whatever, that’s really where your business needs to go. The one thing I’m noticing is that nobody … and maybe it’s just too early in that lifecycle for anything to change because the new streaming services are still pretty new. So maybe that’s an unfair comparison. The conversation I like to have is, what can a business do to monitor those trend currents?
Danny Brown: Well, you mentioned when we were speaking clients about some of our campaigns and we were looking at what’s coming down the road in 12, 18 months and we’re trying to plan that one and foster campaigns content, plans, et cetera. So go back to the companies and look at what’s big in tech at the moment, and also one of the big things is AI, VR, and how is it a way to immerse yourself in your favorite TV show or as an extra. So you’re just standing in the background as a wanna be surgeon and E.R for example, and [inaudible 00:12:53] E.R, you might not know it too well these days. Can you immerse yourself into your favorite … you can do it in games already. Video game companies have already seen that. [crosstalk 00:13:04]
Sam Fiorella: This is an interesting conversation because we were just … before we started this podcast, we were talking about one of our clients and product reviews. Maybe we should be taking our own advice here, and how do we include … because we’re working with influencers that are doing product reviews for this brand, why don’t we look at sending them some VR headsets or something like that or recording devices to record something that can be viewed in VR? That would be really be disruptive in terms of this particular industry where there are so many influencers doing product reviews.
Danny Brown: Exactly.
Sam Fiorella: And that would be kind of interesting. Again, taking a look at whatever that is, technology, cultural, change. You know what I’ve noticed as well, going back to the Netflix, have you noticed how what … you’ve basically cut the cord, you don’t got cable anymore.
Danny Brown: I don’t have cable.
Sam Fiorella: I still have some cable cable. I am old in my house and I also have somebody that will let me cut the cord is a whole other conversation. But what I’ve been noticing is on television commercials when you have a commercial for an upcoming show or a new series that’s coming up, what the network commercials are saying is, now streaming on your channel, we’re now streaming on your TV. So even though it’s a regular television program on cable, they’re calling it streaming just to try and emulate them instead of trying to do something completely different. Because they’ve got that infrastructure and so they have to utilize it. Well, going back to the ice cream, one of the things that a related article that was linked in this article is how Haagen-Dazs is re-imagining the brand for the Instagram generation. So it might be an interesting segue. But what Haagen-Dazs is finding is that they’re no longer hip. The luxury brand that everybody wanted today doesn’t have the same appeal that it used to have because everyone’s going for this craft ice cream.
Danny Brown: Okay.
Sam Fiorella: And so, because they are feeling it clearly, they’re going after a big redesign, a big change [crosstalk 00:15:14]
Danny Brown: … vigil.
Sam Fiorella: Yeah. If you can see the image, the new Haagen-Dazs. And again, if you compare that to the design as you can see here of the …
Danny Brown: The halo.
Sam Fiorella: The Halo Top, say Halo Top. Excuse me. The Halo Top, you can see how it’s very visual like the kind of thing that you want to have an Instagram post. You can see the Haagen-Dazs is doing exactly the same thing. So they’re really changing the product itself, not just what’s inside, but that the marketing around it; the naming, the branding, everything around it to be more Instagramable because it’ll appeal to this next generation. So is this something that you think is going to happen? Is being an Instagramable product part of the evolution of everybody’s product today?
Danny Brown: I think it’s a smart move. If you look at the numbers for online usage at the moment, Facebook continues to drop amongst the core audience that these guys need to attract for the next 10, 20 years, and Instagram is starting to overtake in certain areas. As Instagram starts to add more features like e-commerce right from the app, which some retailers are experimenting with at the moment, and if you can order online … I think that’s another way, so order online on the Instagram up, your drone comes in from Amazon or the retailer or whatever, drops it off your home and then it’s all part of that same retail experience. Again, if you’re looking at customers that are very lifestyle driven, they’re very image conscious, and I see image conscious as in the kind of person what they do for the community et cetera, that kind of image driven, it tailors well to the generation you’re going after, the platforms they use. I saw a new term pop up this week, Xennials.
Sam Fiorella: Xennials.
Danny Brown: So in between Millennials and Gen Xers, which is seemingly an untapped market, and now they’ve given a name, I think in cable, funny enough. So maybe that’s an option because Xennials are big users of Instagram, they’re disposable incomes.
Sam Fiorella: I mean, I’ve been saying it, social media but Instagram in particular is going to be the death of me, especially because I can’t stop seeing the Kardashians pop up my screen. I don’t know why-
Danny Brown: You got to stop following them.
Sam Fiorella: Maybe that’s what it is. Is that what it is? [crosstalk 00:17:24]
Danny Brown: That what it is, you’ve got them as your favorites.
Sam Fiorella: I’ll figure out Instagram one of these days. The interesting thing here is that they’ve said that speaking of millennials, that the millennial population is going to be so big that if you’re not appealing to them today, in 10 years you’re not going to have a business. This is what Haagen-Dazs, the marketing and executives at the Haagen-Dazs are saying. So that really is something, how do you become Instagramable? Remember the restaurant we talked about once? There’s a restaurant in New York City that’s actually created Instagram tables where the lighting and the ambience is set up specifically for the people to Instagram. It really is something. We’re getting the … Thank you Stephen. We’re getting the notice that our time is running up, so let’s wrap this up.
Sam Fiorella: Takeaways; in terms of this concept of being Instagramable or how to be a big fish in a small pond or if you’re a big guy, how do you pay better attention to what’s happening down below on the road, what’s your takeaway for everybody?
Danny Brown: One of the things that we always talk about as a data, I’ll say analyze your data and understand it, but a lot of times we don’t actually talk about often. So you’ve got data analyst but actual conversation analysts as well, and look at the … watch the trend currents, but look at the world and the trends behind the conversations that are happening, allocate it to the data you’ve already got. Say, okay, you know what? In 12 months, we need to be looking or thinking about this because everybody’s starting talking about this coming down the line.
Sam Fiorella: Sure.
Danny Brown: And analyze the conversation behind the data as well.
Sam Fiorella: That’s a good point. I agree and I really like that we’re bringing back up the concept of trend currents versus current trends, which is actually a term I stole from Steve.
Danny Brown: Steve, big guy.
Sam Fiorella: … he’s a great guy. Somebody that I’ve been following for many years. But for me, I think it’s looking at what is the disrupter beyond your product that is going to be the key takeaway for marketers, especially the bigger you are, the better it is. Like for example, today I went to Staples, to Buy something. Staples is like a five minute walk from us here at the office, but I didn’t go to the store and buy it. I went online, I ordered everything that I wanted, I paid for it online and I just went to pick it up. I do the same thing with Starbucks in the morning, when I’m getting off the train, I order my Starbucks so that by the time … those two minutes that it takes me to walk from the train to the Starbucks, it’s sitting there waiting for me, so I don’t have to queue up, that’s line up for you Americans, queue up to get it. So what is the technology that’s going to drive the change? And if it’s not culture, it’s most likely going to be technology in the foreseeable future. Because people are making decisions based on the technology you offer them, more so, in some cases than the product.
Sam Fiorella: You know what I mean? The Instagramable ice cream for example, that’s got nothing to do with what’s inside it’s how does it look when I actually Instagram it? So that’s going to be one of the things that I would say is a takeaway. Anyway, thank you everybody for watching, and what should they do?
Danny Brown: They should applaud. [crosstalk 00:20:28]
Sam Fiorella: Robert, why don’t you ever applaud for us when we’re done with these things? I’m going to add that to your job description.
Danny Brown: Yeah, and if you’re watching us on YouTube, make sure you hit the like, subscribe notification little bell at the top so you get notified of new videos. Leave us a comment about what you thought of this week’s topic and if you prefer podcast, we’re on about 10 or 12 different channels. Just pick your favorite one, and you’ll get notified of our new episode gone up.
Sam Fiorella: Awesome, thanks mate, it’s a great conversation as always and a good beer this time.
Danny Brown: Good beer this time.
Sam Fiorella: Thank you, cheers everybody. I wonder if they’ll mind if I lick the inside of this glass.
Outro: You’ve been listening to Marketing on Tap, with Sam Fiorella and Danny Brown. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss the next one, and please, feel free to leave a show review, that’s always worth a cheers.