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Business Description of Ben & Jerrys

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Business Description of Ben & Jerrys

Executive Summary

Ben and Jerrys is a successful ice cream company with many strengths and weaknesses. The company faces serious competition, financial struggles, economic and social influences, all of which are covered in my paper. I also discussed some recommendations I have for the companies success.

Ben and Jerry’s is one of the top ice cream companies around. They have had many ups and downs throughout the history of the company, but overall, they have overcome most of their hardships. They have some serious competition facing them in the ice cream industry; they have faced financial struggles, internal issues, and some social and economic factors. In conclusion, I have come up with a few recommendations for the company to possibly improve things in the future.

Haagen Dazs is currently the main competitor in the concentrated market place for super premium ice cream. Substitutes are however available. There are other ice creams not in the “super premium” category. To an extent, these are the real competition. However, for the market B&J caters for, their strategies should not have a great impact on B&J. The frozen yogurt lines which B&J now provides, also has a number of direct competitors to deal with.

Dealing with other substitutes is not that simple. Expensive (or inexpensive) chocolate, cakes, croissants and other desserts are realistic options for consumers. Other companies are going to try to assure you that their product is the perfect accompaniment to any meal. B&J needs to be aware of this. How he/she makes the choice for ice cream (as opposed to chocolate, etc.), then super premium (as opposed to premium or ordinary) and finally B&J (as opposed to Haagen Dazs etc.) is imperative.

The possibility of new competition in the market place is limited by two major problems, the brand and distribution. Remembering that these are higher market consumers, where by cheap alternatives are not necessarily desired, then the key element is the brand. This brand and the image that comes along with it, are something currently only Haagan Dazs and B&J have. This emotional tie related to B&J’s and everything it possesses beyond what it is in itself (a good tasting ice cream), is something that will be difficult to imitate. It is a question of “I wouldn’t be seen dead eating another ice cream” as opposed to “this is cheaper and tastes just like B&J’s so I’ll buy this from now on”.

The other obstacle concerns distribution. With ice cream, the idea of selling products through the Internet, despite the dried ice, which may accompany it, is not a likely option. B&J’s is a fresh ice cream and by nature, difficult to transport. Consequently, distribution to stores around the USA and globally will be expensive and require partners, such as Dreyer’s, that have an extensive transportation network. This is potentially a concern or risk for B&J’s. Having a rival manufacturer distributing their ice cream is likely to cause conflict, and B&J should change this immediately or have an adequate back up plan.

With both the above barriers, the key competitor may be the other ice cream manufacturer in the premium or ordinary market, especially the premium market. As it is, these competitors already have the distribution network and the know how. But, it will still take a large investment for these manufacturers to sell their image.

B&J’s also has their share of internal issues. Due to the baby boom in 1994 the target market of Ben & Jerry has declined vastly. Although Ben & Jerry still hold a large percentage of the small market share, the company needs to decide on whether this target segment is worth sticking with.

At one stage, Ben & Jerry's pricing strategy worked really well, however it has become evident that demand over recent years has shifted towards lower priced products, leaving pricing strategies being a big issue for the company. Until 1994, all of Ben & Jerry's promotions were gained through the company's socially conscious practices. However price wars with main competitors left the company having to pull funds off advertising campaigns to fund price discounts and store coupons.

Due to the fact that imitations for the product are being developed more rapidly, Ben & Jerry have changed their primary marketing goal to establish products that cannot be imitated, but the technological developments of the company have not allowed them to launch the products within a decent time limit. B&J’s mission statement includes the need for a wide variety of innovative flavors. Five years to find the perfect coffee bean seems unnecessary. Coffee ice cream, in this period, may have become undesired by the customer. This scenario is compounded

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