Ice Cream: 'Escapism' Trumps Health

U.S. consumers prioritize indulgence

Indulgent ice cream (CSP Daily News / Convenience Stores / Snacks)

Magnum and Dolce & Gabbana launched a new ice cream under the Magnum brand. The white chocolate, vanilla and pistachio ice cream comes packaged in an elaborate design from the famous fashion house.

NEW YORK -- When it comes to their choice in ice cream, consumers in the United States favor indulgence over anything else, and look for the most decadent flavors to fulfil this need.

A recent report from Canadean Ltd. has revealed that the desire to indulge motivates 47% of U.S. ice cream consumption as consumers want to treat themselves with novel flavors and creamy textures for the tastiest experience. The need for indulgence is most prevalent in the consumption of impulse ice creams such as packaged cones or ice cream sandwiches, where it motivates half of consumption, at 50%. As a result, consumers see this category as an indulgent treat that offers escapism.

Consumers put health concerns aside when it comes to their choice of ice cream. Health has little influence on the consumption of ice cream in the United States. Consumers looking for the creamiest and sweetest ingredients will often turn to products that are inherently unhealthy. Consumers disregard any concerns about health when it comes to consumption, with ice cream being perceived as a treat or reward during consumers busy lives.

Health-conscious consumers will either avoid ice cream completely or reduce their consumption, opting for healthier food categories to consume. When they do indulge, they will look for decadent products and moderate their consumption, choosing smaller portion sizes which reduce the guilt factor.

Consumers can be persuaded to trade up to luxury ice cream products. Consumers in the United States like to feel they are getting good value for money from their ice cream choice, whether they are trading up or down; however, manufacturers should remember that the primary reason for consumption is the desire to indulge, and consumers fear that cheaper products may involve a tradeoff of taste--a sacrifice they are not willing to make. On the other hand, manufacturers should focus on creating products with a unique taste to satisfy the consumers.

"Manufacturers should extend their portfolios to offer premium products to meet the demand for luxury indulgence, combining sweet and savory flavors such as the heat of chili or a soft hint of elderflower, and sorbet textures for those consumers looking for more novel experiences at home," said Joanne Hardman, analyst at Canadean.