New Product Development is alive and kicking in the global ice cream market, with much of the innovation based on existing sugar confectionery brands. Mintel’s Amanda White highlights some of the latest developments – Mars and Nestlé have been busy extending their brands, while lesser known ice cream producers right around the world have shown great creativity in the impulse segment.

The entry of Mars into the impulse ice cream market in 1989 with its eponymous bar gave the impulse ice cream sector a shake up and placed an emphasis on new product development.

Since then the links between confectionery and ice cream appear to have been endless. Whilst many of the chocolate confectionery brands have been transformed into ice cream, this year has seen new links appear between ice cream and sugar confectionery.

Some of the longer established confectionery and ice cream links include Smarties– and M&M-topped ice creams. Nestlé‘s Smarties’ UK link with desserts began in 1998 with the Mini Smarties, a thick chocolate dessert with a separate portion of Mini Smarties primarily aimed at children. From 2000 onwards, Smarties ice creams have appeared in various formats.

Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) highlights the initial appearance of Smarties ice cream in the UK. In March 2000, Nestlé introduced the Smarties Ice-Cream, a milk chocolate ice cream bar filled with Mini Smarties. March 2000, also saw the introduction of the Smarties Pop Up ice creams in Germany, followed swiftly by a Danish appearance in April 2000. These push up ice creams with Smarties pieces have mini Smarties inside a holding stick, and are packaged in boxes of five.

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By GlobalData

May 2000 saw the launch of Smarties tub ice creams in Denmark, vanilla ice creams with mini sugar Smarties, packaged in a paperboard tub. Further extensions include Smarties Ice Cream lollies in the UK in June 2000.

This year has seen additional Smarties ice cream extensions. Including Smarties Fun Cones, which appeared in the German market In April 2001 – these vanilla ice cream cornets contain Mini Smarties, and are packaged in packs of six.

As with Smarties, Mars M&Ms have played a predominant part in ice cream NPD. M&Ms ice cream cones have been launched in the US and across Europe. Coned ice creams containing miniature chocolate M&Ms are packed in a sugar cone, with ice cream flavours including vanilla and chocolate.

Recently, a more exotic variant of the M&M ice cream cone appeared on US grocery shelves. January 2001 saw the introduction of a combination of vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and M&Ms Minis.

At the end of 1999, Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream linked up with Mars to manufacture and market a line of premium vanilla ice cream featuring M&Ms candy brands in the US. It was not until March 2001 that Mars linked up with Master Foods to produce ice cream tub desserts in the UK, which include M&M variants. A month later, the extension reached French shelves. Latest developments in the US include a chocolate variant of the M&M tub ice cream.

More interestingly, M&Ms have been used in both the US and Belgium to produce ice cream cookies. Here vanilla ice cream is surrounded by two American-style cookies covered in M&Ms.

Sugar confectionery continues to get more involved with the ice cream market. In June 2001, Friso launched ice cream in a novel, dual compartment individual pot in the Netherlands. Launched under the Friso brand, the bottom pot encloses a bag of Fruitella crispy jelly sweets to top the ice cream.

Last month, Trebor Bassett launched Jelly Babies ice lollies with a jelly centre, for kids in the UK. Packaged in eights, these come in an assortment of flavours. Also in the UK, Monkhill Confectionery is introducing in July, under the JoJo’s brand, miniature sweets (for example, jelly beans, fizzy fruit gums), designed to be eaten with ice cream. These come in individual sachets for sprinkling.

In Germany the GNPD reports on Dr Oetker‘s children’s stick ice creams with a bubblegum flavoured white coating.

Finally, the GNPD reports on the Chinese launch of a ‘pearl’ and milk tea take-home ice cream tub from Meiji.

Analysis of exclusive consumer research carried out for Mintel’s Impulse Ice Cream report, has revealed that three distinct clusters of ice cream purchasing exist. Steady users buy ice cream all year round, while ice cream freaks are likely to buy on a day out, from an ice cream van, at the cinema and when they are looking for a quick dessert. This group tends to be women and those who have families. The third group is those who buy ice cream as a seasonal food: these consumers only buy in hot weather periods.

Impulse ice cream cluster composition, by demographic sub-group

Base:  977 adults

Seasonal users
%
Steady users
%
Ice cream freaks
%
All
59
32
9
Men
60
33
7
Women
58
32
10
15-24
63
26
11
25-34
49
42
9
35-44
51
34
15
45-54
57
34
9
55-64
73
25
3
65+
66
30
4
AB
59
31
9
C1
58
33
8
C2
56
34
11
D
63
30
7
E
62
31
8
London
58
34
9
South
52
38
10
Anglia/Midlands
65
27
9
South West/Wales
63
30
8
Yorkshire/North
52
39
10
East North West
62
30
9
Scotland
60
32
8
Working
55
35
11
Not working
64
29
7
Retired
67
30
3
Married
55
36
9
Not married
63
27
10
Lifestage: Pre-family
58
33
9
Family
47
38
15
Empty nesters/no family
63
30
7
Post family/retired
69
28
4
Special Groups: Benefit dependents
63
29
7
Families on a tight budget
46
40
14
Better off families
47
37
16
Better off empty nesters
72
21
7
Working managers
52
36
12
Working women
58
30
12
Newspaper read: Popular tabloid
58
31
11
Mid-market tabloid
58
32
11
Quality
63
31
7

Source: BMRB/Mintel

By Amanda White, Mintel