With record-setting temperatures across the northern hemisphere this year, we thought it would be timely to dive into one of the tastiest ways to beat the summer heat, ice cream, in this week’s What’s Hot, What’s Not, What’s Next.
You may have heard the recent buzz around Kraft’s ice cream collaboration with Brooklyn-based Van Leeuwen Ice Cream on July 14, otherwise known as National Mac and Cheese Day. While it may sound a bit weird for an ice cream flavor, the odd combo sparked a viral sensation with social media influencers tripping over each other to post reaction videos and selfies with this limited-edition treat.
But did it sell? Well, the 2000 initial pints sold out in nine minutes!
With the viral success of the macaroni and cheese ice cream, some others followed suit, including:
- Marble Slab’s Flaming Hot Cheetos flavor ice cream & shake is available through September 30, 2021. “Our Cheetos Flamin’ Hot Ice Cream encourages you not to take life too seriously. It’s unexpected, a bit surprising, and a whole lot of delicious. What’s not to love?” said CMO Annica Conrad.
- It may look like a bucket of chicken, but it’s actually a bucket of chicken drumstick-shaped ice cream bars by Life Raft Treats. The “Not Fried Chicken” Ice Cream is the brainchild of the six-time finalist for the James Beard Awards’ Outstanding Pastry Chef, Chef Cynthia Wong.
- The Dogfish Head brewery produced an alcoholic Hazy-O IPA ice cream with up to 5% alcohol by volume and can only be consumed by those 21+. It’s being sold through Goldbelly, which notes that an adult signature is required upon delivery; packages will not be left at the door.
Insights for Ice Cream Brands: What’s Hot, Not, & Next
With so many weird and wonderful ice cream variations coming to market, how do brands keep up with their competitors? How do they stay on top of the latest consumer trends? And how do they make sure that their next flavor/product launch also sells out in 9 minutes?
Consumer and market intelligence platforms like Skai are increasingly used by ice cream brands looking to keep a finger on the pulse of what is happening in the category, in real-time and get ahead of the latest trends.
Skai collects more data than anyone else relevant to ice cream (social reviews, product listings, ratings, reviews, patents, etc.) so that brands don’t miss a thing. We apply natural language processing so that it’s easy to extract what is happening in the ice cream category and why — and what will happen in the future. And we visualize the data in a way that makes it easy to understand for anyone from Insights, Marketing, Brand, Product Innovation, and more.
Our Ice Cream & Frozen Novelties category includes data from over:
- 3,133 products
- 2.5 million consumer discussions
- 60,000+ consumer reviews
- 17,000+ key opinion leader posts
- 2,100+ patents
So what is the data showing us? Let’s take a look!
- Plant-based protein, a growing trend in other food categories, has made its way to ice cream with 117% growth in social discussions year on year.
- Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is currently the top reviewed ice cream product on Target.com with a 5-star rating by 418 reviewers.
- Thick seems to be something ice cream makers are interested in exploring. There have been 230 new patents filed in the last 5 years for ice cream expressing a thick texture.
- Peanuts have been a long-standing favorite ingredient for dessert lovers and seem to be getting even more popular, with a 44% growth in consumer reviews over the last year.
- Konjac, a southeast Asian plant often used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of ailments, has recently seen a 240% growth in social media posts related to ice cream.
- Bold is a taste that is being cited more often with a 320% year-over-year growth in mentions in consumer product reviews.
- Fat-Free ice cream might be something only your Aunt Susan is looking for. No new Fat-Free products or patents have been detected in the last year.
- Fluffy ice cream sounds good, but is it selling? There has been a 48% drop in consumer product reviews for the term fluffy related to ice cream.
- Bland and Artificial are the two leading topics Amazon consumers expressed as negative taste in ice cream in their product reviews.
- Calcium has taken a bit of a hit recently, but it might be coming back. There has been an 86% drop in consumer reviews mentioning calcium, but 30 new ice cream patents have been filed in the last five years citing this nutrient.
- Tea-flavored ice cream was pretty hot a few years ago. But, in the last year, there has been a 31% drop in social media posts mentioning tea as an ice cream flavor.
- Salty, when combined with sweet things, has been a big hit with ice cream over the last decade, i.e., salted caramel, pretzel/salted nuts as a topping, etc. But it seems to be declining as a trend. For example, just 14 new ice cream patents have been detected over the past five years mentioning salty.
- Fiber is definitely going to be a new nutrient in ice cream. There have been a whopping 281 new patents filed for ice cream products containing fiber in the last five years.
- Smuckers is currently the most mentioned brand in Walmart.com product reviews related to the ice cream and frozen novelties category and should remain at the top for some time. Smuckers makes one of the leading ice cream toppings, including caramel, butterscotch, and chocolate sundae syrups.
- Soft has seen a 278% growth in consumer reviews of ice cream products.
- Amino acids aren’t something people usually think about with ice cream. But, there has been a significant increase in ice cream patents mentioning amino acids over the past five years.
- Buckwheat has recently popped up in various food categories and can play a valuable role in controlling blood sugar levels. There has been an 800% growth in social media posts for buckwheat. This is a rather untraditional ice cream flavor and might be something for ice cream companies to keep their eyes on.
- Sour is a very common taste with candies, but it hasn’t been that big in ice cream…yet. There have been 40 new sour ice cream product patents filed in the last five years. But, currently, only 10 ice cream products mention the term Sour in their product descriptions.
- Chicken? It might be hard to believe, but chicken is emerging as an interesting new ingredient in the ice cream category. There has been a 4492% growth in consumer reviews mentioning it in the last year. Of course, part of this trend could be due to the aforementioned chicken-bucket-inspired ice cream bars.
Top Ice Cream Brands (by social posts)
The Ice Cream trend to watch: what’s up with chocolate?
Chocolate is one of the most popular flavors of ice cream and makes up 224 of the 3000+ ice cream products we track on ecommerce websites. But, something caught our eye: there have been no new chocolate ice cream products released in the last year.
Additionally, of the 2100+ new ice cream patents that have been filed over the last five years, there were only 15 new patents detected that highlight chocolate as a flavor. In the last year, social media posts mentioning chocolate ice cream are down 11%, and reviews of chocolate ice cream products are down 23%
Of course, chocolate ice cream isn’t going anywhere. But, it would seem the innovation is slowing in this area. So, there may be opportunities for ice cream manufacturers to find new, creative ways to bring this flavor to market and take advantage of the current popularity.
To find out what’s hot, what’s not, and what’s next in your industry, please reach out today to schedule a brief demo of Skai’s market intelligence platform.