Kate Vlietstra
Kate is a Global Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel. She specialises in analysing the dairy sector, with previous experience in FMCG sales and marketing roles.

Ice cream brands can offer a transportive experience to appeal to travel-deficient consumers, especially during the festive season. In this blog, we explore five ways brands can tap into this opportunity.

Entice travel-deficient consumers with transportive ice cream flavours

As people holiday less due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19 and sustainability, they will seek to replicate some of the joys of holidaying more. Ice cream can capitalise on this trend by targeting consumers with transportive flavours that evoke far-off lands.

In response to the strict travel restrictions imposed on consumers during the past 18 months, Magnum Australia has launched a Destinations range. It comprises of four ice creams inspired by flavours from New York, Amsterdam, Tahiti and Las Vegas.

Magnum’s White Chocolate Passionfruit inspired by Tahiti (Australia)

Source: Magnum

Ice cream aroma allows consumers to escape and relax

In addition to flavour, fragrance can evoke thoughts of distant lands (e.g. the scent of a particular food from that region) and it is also linked to aiding relaxation.

Ice cream brands should leverage the use of transportive aroma. In China, nearly half of consumers find that the sweet smell of dessert aids emotional wellbeing.

Papico’s “Rich cocoa aroma from Ecuadorian cacao” (Japan)

Source: Mintel GNPD

Product presentation adds a pleasing punch

Presenting ice cream in an imaginative and creative format allows consumers to further engage with and enjoy a transportive ice cream experience. Lidl’s prepared tropical fruit range does just this. The range includes pineapple ice cream served in half a pineapple, and coconut ice cream served in half a coconut, the use of the fruit as a serving dish adding to the eating experience. 

The format, too, has practical benefits, as nearly a quarter of German consumers would like to see more food packaging visually appealing enough to serve the food in.

Caribbean Style Pineapple Fruit Ice Cream (Germany)

Source: Mintel GNPD

Focus on premium ice cream cues

Offering internationally inspired ice cream flavours and formats allows brands to charge more for something exotic and exclusive. Consumers have been willing to pay more for ice cream in recent years. According to Mintel GNPD, the global average cost per 100ml/g of an ice cream launch has increased by 23% over the past five years, which is far higher than the increase across most other food categories.

Brands offering internationally inspired ice cream flavours and formats to create a transportive experience should similarly leverage quality credentials to premiumise their products. For example, premium ice cream brand Nuii refers to the provenance of internationally sourced ingredients.

Nuii’s Caramel White Chocolate & Texan Pecan Ice Cream (UK)

Source: Mintel GNPD

The premium ice cream sector looks set to benefit from the so-called ‘Lipstick Effect’, whereby consumers treat themselves to small, affordable treats in difficult times. In the UK, over a third of consumers say that COVID-19 has made them treat themselves more to luxury food and drink. With costly artisanal ice cream brands already in strong growth, premiumisation is set to continue.

Transportive rituals can focus on premiumisation

While travel is one way to transport consumers, another is to target food and drink rituals that offer escape from the mundane and provide a moment of calmness, as explored in Mintel’s 2021 Global Food & Drink Trend Feed The Mind.

Brands can look to foodservice for premium, transportive inspiration. An ultra-premium option is US-based Morgenstern‘s Finest Ice Cream’s seven-course Dom Pérignon pairing menu, which pairs unique ice creams with Champagne, weaving together components from America, France and Japan. The $360 pairing menu offers consumers a truly immersive ritual.

Morgenstern Sushi Rice Ice Cream with Osetra Caviar in Nori Cone (US)

Source: Cool Hunting

Partnering with more premium brands can elevate ice cream into a luxury option. Ice cream brands should collaborate with brands from categories such as dark spirits and Champagne in order to benefit from their sophisticated and aspirational ‘lifestyle marketing’ and to justify adding a premium price to collaborative initiatives.