Ice cream to scream about

Unilever offers some category advice through Partners for Growth scheme

Collection of ice creams

IT might not feel like it on a cold February morning but the days are getting longer and before you know it the warmer months will be back again, so it might be a good idea to start thinking about ice cream now.

And even if the nation is not blessed with a heat wave, or even just one sunny weekend, this summer there’s still plenty of reason for retailers to reassess their ice cream range, according to Unilever’s Partners for Growth programme.

The firm behind Walls, whose freezer-filling brands include Magnum and Cornetto, has produced figures which reveal a quarter of frozen sales in convenience are generated by ice cream, making the category key to retailers in both summer and winter.

One of the most crucial things for convenience retailers to consider, according to Unilever PfG,  is that ice cream is an impulse-dominated category, which means it might be worth going the extra mile to draw customer attention to the freezer.



The ice-cream category has grown 20% in the last seven years.



Ice cream is now bought by 90% of households in the UK.



Ice cream accounts for 24% of frozen sales in the convenience sector.


Unilever PfG suggests retailers use on-street signage to tell consumers that the store has ice cream in stock, which could come in the shape of pavement signs, flags and waste bins.

Inside the store, Unilever PfG suggests retailers position the freezer cabinet close to the till, a move which could further improve the category’s performance, according to the programme, which says simply letting customers know that there is ice cream on site can increase sales by up to 15%.

And while this advice is useful even in the colder months, with 22% of ice cream sold in winter, it’s in summer when ice cream will really shine, and Unilever PfG reckons a sunny day can see ice cream revenues jump by 400%.

Signage isn’t the only area where retailers can improve the attractiveness of their ice cream offer, as it’s also suggested the quality of a store’s freezer can have a lot to answer for in sales terms.

Unilever PfG says updating a freezer to a ‘modern attractive design’ can result in a 42% increase in sales.

Whatever the freezer size, merchandising within it is also key to success according to advice from the Partners for Growth programme, which found one in 10 customers will walk away from a cluttered, confusing freezer without making a purchase.

With this in mind, Unilever PfG suggests retailers should stick to a ‘one product, one basket’ approach, where possible, to help prevent lost sales. The programme also recommends retailers organise their cabinet into four segments – chocolate snacks, filled cones, adult refreshment and kids

And as for ranging, Unilever PfG reckons retailers should ensure they stock the top selling brands in each subcategory and avoid duplicating flavours and formats.

Best sellers should be easy to find and clearly priced, the firm said, although there may also be scope to grow revenues through well positioned new products.