Snacks & Candy

Ben & Jerry's is America's Favorite Ice Cream Chain

But Culver's licks competition for quality/taste, customer service, cleanliness, atmosphere, value

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Ben & Jerry's is America's favorite ice cream chain, according to a national study from Market Force Information, a provider of customer intelligence solutions. In a quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry survey of more than 7,600 U.S. consumers, Ben & Jerry's was voted the No. 1 ice cream chain, while Cold Stone Creamery and Culver's snagged the No. 2 and No. 3 spots.

Haagen-Dazs, Baskin-Robbins, Dairy Queen and Carvel also made it onto the list of favorites.

The study, conducted in August, was designed to uncover which ice cream chain consumers like most and why they prefer one over another. Market Force first calculated the favorites based on the total number of votes, and then factored in the number of locations for each chain for a level view of the results (see File Attachments below).

Market Force also analyzed the results geographically to see which ice cream chains are most popular in four regions of the country--the Northeast, Midwest, South and West.

Baskin-Robbins came out on top in the Northeast, Ben & Jerry's in the Midwest, and, interestingly, Wisconsin-based Culver's received the most votes in the South and West regions, but ranked fourth in the Midwest. Ben & Jerry's was second favorite in the Northeast, South and West, and consumers nationwide agreed that Cold Stone Creamery was third across the board (see File Attachments below).

When consumers were asked to rank the ice cream chains based on various attributes such as food quality/taste, customer service, cleanliness, atmosphere and overall value, Culver's was the leader across all of the categories. Cream Stone Creamery and Ben & Jerry's were second and third for taste, while Carvel had a strong showing in the service and value categories.

Out of the seven chains considered, Dairy Queen ranked lowest for food quality, taste and cleanliness, and Haagen-Dazs came in last place for service and value (see File Attachments below).

"Despite the recession, the ice cream market has remained hot and we're seeing smaller chains like Culver's aggressively grow their fan following by focusing on the customer experience," said Janet Eden-Harris, chief marketing officer for Market Force. "Still, with its progressive brand image, as well as a variety of funky flavors with creative names, Ben & Jerry's remains the crowd favorite."

The survey was conducted in August 2012 across the United States. The pool of 7,600 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with half reporting household incomes of more than $50,000 a year. Respondents' ages ranged from 19 to over 65. Approximately one-quarter were men and 75% were women, and 73% reported working full or part time. Half of the respondents have children at home and more than two-thirds are married.

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