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.

While the pandemic showcased the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, it also validated an indulgent relationship with food. In the UK, almost half of consumers say it’s been easier to justify eating indulgent food/drink since COVID-19. This agreement is even higher among younger adults.

While ice cream is inherently indulgent, brands have been experimenting around indulgent mix-ins and toppings to make their products seem more premium, and thus more of a treat for comfort-seeking shoppers.

Premium ice creams showcase indulgence credentials

Ice creams featuring a premium positioning often highlight strong indulgence cues to justify clear value. These can relate to texture (eg dense/rich), processing method, ingredients or provenance.

Ice cream industry must adapt to counter inflation concerns

Consumers will continue to seek out small indulgences in the face of a global economic crisis that has already led to cost of living issues. In some markets, such as the US and UK, a recession is possible due to rising inflation.

The stress and uncertainty of an economic crisis leads to an uptake in eating comfort foods such as ice cream. However, rising inflation means it is ever more crucial to offer consumers value for money.

Both nostalgia and ice cream innovation are important

Consumers are known to seek simpler flavours during a recession, highlighting the opportunity in the short term for ice cream brands to offer simple, nostalgic flavours. However, brands should not neglect innovation. During times of recession, brands that innovate are the ones that succeed, so ice cream companies should drive purchase through innovative flavours. In Brazil, 30% of ice cream consumers would pay more for ice cream that appeals to the senses.

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