Making a Cold Brand Hot

Discussion
Jun 20, 2006
Al McClain

By Al McClain


It’s 90 degrees with high humidity and summer is at least unofficially here. So, what’s
the next best thing to ice cream? How about a story about revitalizing a 60-year-old ice cream brand?


First, just a few stats I couldn’t resist:



  • 2004 average American per capita ice cream consumption: 21.5 quarts (Source: USDA)

  • Top 5 flavors: vanilla 26 percent, chocolate 13 percent, Neapolitan 5 percent, strawberry 4 percent, cookies ‘n cream 4 percent
    (NPD Group)

  • 2004 total U.S. ice cream sales: $21.4 billion (International Ice Cream Association)

  • Total 2004 away from home ice cream sales: $13.3 billion (IICA)


Suffice to say, ice cream is BIG retailing business.


Ice cream retailer Baskin-Robbins, after more than 6 decades, has 5,600 locations around the world, of which 2,700 are in the U.S. Some Baskin-Robbins tidbits:



  • The trademarked “31” flavors represent one for each day of the month.

  • B-R has created over 1,000 flavors since 1945.

  • B-R has always offered free samples via their iconic pink spoons.

  • B-R launched frozen coffee drinks in 1994.


In the restaurant and ice cream shop arena, though, competition is tough. Newer chains. such as Cold Stone Creamery, Maggie Moo’s
and Marble Slab Creamery. offer unique, entertaining experiences. And, there’s always competition from “traditional” ice cream shops: Ben & Jerry’s, Dairy Queen, Haagen Dazs,
etc.


So, Baskin Robbins has begun unveiling a new look in its stores. The new store design includes a logo that emphasizes the “31” subliminally, metal foot railings so younger customers
can see the flavors more easily, new counters and chairs, and a “sundae station” so that customers can better see their frozen confections being made.


Baskin-Robbins plans to open 600 stand-alone new stores over the next four years, along with 800 combination stores (co-located with Dunkin’ Donuts and Togos) in that period.
The company has experienced double digit increases in sales in the locations that have been remodeled.


Moderator’s Comment: Is it better for long-established, successful retailers to do total redesigns, or tinker with their look continuously as they go
along?


Baskin-Robbins says that it wants to make the redesigned shops “cool” and a place for teenagers to hang out, while being true to a brand that’s recognized
by 99 percent of U.S. consumers, and 90 percent worldwide.

Al McClain – Moderator


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11 Comments on "Making a Cold Brand Hot"


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Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
14 years 8 months ago

I don’t think BR needs to overhaul its brand as much as its in-store experience. The brand still has very positive associations, but its stores haven’t kept up with the “experience economy” exemplified by Starbucks. The changes they are talking about sound positive; if they want to attract teens, adding WiFi and other amenities to encourage teens to hang out would make sense, too.

Odonna Mathews
Guest
Odonna Mathews
14 years 8 months ago

Baskin -Robbins is making some needed changes to counter its new competition. Many of their stores seem dated and a new look will add greater appeal. Providing counters and chairs adds comfort and the “sundae station” adds some entertainment value. How about a birthday club, adding additional “healthy” choices like lower fat ice cream or yogurt with real fruit added, and perhaps having clean, accessible restrooms?

It seems to me if you have a valued brand, a retailer would do well to keep what customers really like, while always looking for ways to improve and add new conveniences or experiment with a more modern look.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

Most retailers need to continually update existing stores AND roll out completely refreshed stores periodically. They don’t have the luxury of choosing one or the other. Updates might include interior and window sign packages, specialized display fixtures, floor refinishing, and special-purpose lighting. Obviously, new rollouts can include changing the square footage, complete fixture layout, and major new services.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

Certainly the competition by other stores is increasing. As someone who grew up with Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors being THE store with the best selection of flavors and choices, I find it difficult to find a store in many cities. While updating the image is something that needs to be done constantly (i.e., the Betty Crocker face), opening more stores in more attractive locations is a good move. As competitors open more stores in locations where people are walking, browsing, or shopping, Baskin-Robbins loses sales just because the competitors are there. Baskin-Robbins has brand recognition and has competitive prices; now they need to be available. Adding consumer-friendly concepts will help too.

George Ator
Guest
George Ator
14 years 8 months ago

Changing your image (branding) by refreshing the “store” is extremely helpful as generations change. “New” generations like to shed old things. It is an American cultural phenomenon. Our research shows that even in banking a refresh of the building will generate a dramatic increase in business. Banking is a retail business — they sell and buy money. We tell our clients that they are dream fulfillment stores.

Anything that a retailer can do to keep their image fresh will certainly help to maintain or increase market share. The key is to find out what the changing demography views you as currently and what they want.

Bernie Slome
Guest
Bernie Slome
14 years 8 months ago

Every retailer is different. Thus, there is no set or pat answer. If the retailer has done the research, done the focus groups and listened to the customers, they will have the appropriate answer. In this case, doing something is better than waiting for something to happen. Good luck to them.

Edward Herrera
Guest
Edward Herrera
14 years 8 months ago

I think it is time to update a quality tired brand with fresh ideas.

Some people eat ice cream to reward or sooth themselves so why not offer new reasons to drop by a Baskin Robbins? Let people know that any day of the week, month or year, Baskin has fresh ideas and desirable choices. Step back for a moment and remember what is good. Baskin Robbins. They can’t lose their place in line with the competition.

Jack Borland
Guest
Jack Borland
14 years 8 months ago

Baskin-Robbins needs to revamp to retain market share. It’s not just about the product (ice cream, coffee coolers, whatever), it’s about the experience. Is BR offering a better experience than the competition?

Should long-established brands do total redesigns? As was already mentioned “it depends.” BR seems to be thinking about it in the right way — don’t change for change’s sake; instead change to improve the experience, and stay abreast or leapfrog past the competition.

The focus on customer experience is going on everywhere. Look at the fast-food market, and how they’re changing their standard décor. Wi-Fi is being added, the old plastic chair & table combos are being replaced with wood — the whole experience is being reassessed.

The goal is not just putting people in seats, it’s getting mind-share (read “repeat business”) by providing a superior experience that puts the customer front and center. Do that, and you’ll win the battle to get those customers coming back, day in and day out.

Ian Percy
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

Here’s the thing…if you’re going to do, DO IT!

Transforming a brand is an all or nothing deal. You either do transformation or you don’t. Tinkering and tweaking will not pull anyone out of a hole. It’s like be nibbled to death. Be hot or be cold, but above all avoid being lukewarm.

Like Ryan’s example of Tiffany’s, where a ‘transformation’ would probably throw the baby out with the bathwater, tinkering and tweaking would help polish that jewel. With exhausted brands like A&P you need full blown transformation. Sounds like Baskin-Robbins is doing it right.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
14 years 8 months ago

All depends on the retailer. Since we’re describing Ben & Jerry’s here as a “traditional” retailer (with deep-seated roots going back all those years) the question is a little fuzzy. Let’s look at real traditional retailers like Tiffany’s. Should they completely revamp? Probably not. Let’s look at another one…say A&P. Should they blow up the model and try again? Couldn’t hurt.

Stephan Kouzomis
Guest
Stephan Kouzomis
14 years 8 months ago

New owners, and Brand strength (as consumers surveyed) speak to why BR is revitalized.

It was great before all the new upstarts, and slab ice cream retailers, and it will be better…. Brand name will bring back past users with their young’uns.

The hidden weapon for success is the co-location with Dunkin’ Donuts.

How smart. Get coffee and breakfast treat; and take a pint of BR to work, or back home. Or treat the family Friday night, and buy Saturday’s breakfast treats.

So many cross promotion plays, each have….

The other ice cream retailers lack Dunkin’ Donuts. But BR still can stand on its own! Hmmmmmmmmm

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