Case Study

A new brand positioning With a Delicious Ending


A large ice cream manufacturer acquires a start-up artisanal sorbet company with limited distribution and very little brand awareness. In anticipation of the sorbet’s national launch, the company needs to establish a differentiated brand positioning. But where will the sorbet shine brightest – among fellow sorbets, premium ice cream brands, non-dairy desserts? And, who will be truest to this new treat?

Online qualitative research, a day-long positioning workshop, and focus groups help the team clarify their target consumer and distinguish the product from its competitors.


A Tasty New Product Full of Potential With Limited Distribution and Brand Awareness

A large ice cream manufacturer acquired a start-up company founded by two women entrepreneurs in New York City who made a killer artisanal sorbet. When acquired, the sorbet had limited distribution and no brand awareness outside its core geography.

In preparation for a national launch, the marketing team and their advertising agency wanted to establish a differentiated brand positioning to help the creamy sorbet compete with brands like Talenti, Ciao Bella, and Haagen Dazs.


Mixed Methods Research, Blindfolded Taste Testing, and Hula Hoops – Developing a Winning Positioning

To get a handle on the Super Premium ‘ice cream and beyond’ space and how consumers perceive and use the various segments, C+R Research conducted exploratory qualitative research via an online community of Millennial women. We sought to understand the target consumer’s food philosophy – how she lives and eats and her perceptions of the ice cream/gelato/non-dairy/sorbet landscape.

Next, we conducted a day-long positioning workshop with teams from the client brand, R&D, and agency. Through a series of conversations and activities, including opportunities to immerse in consumer personas, blindfolded taste testing, and a positioning exercise (which included hula hoops!), we developed the building blocks for positioning adcepts that were later shared with consumers via focus groups.

The result

It’s Not Ice Cream. It’s Better. Positioning That Unleashes Potential

Through the online qualitative research, brand positioning workshop, and focus groups, we learned a ton. For example, we learned that sorbet is a tiny segment with very limited shelf space, and not a lot of fans. On the other hand, premium ice cream comes with a ton of shelf-space, lots of fans, and of course, a fair amount of competition. Premium ice cream also carries some baggage for our target consumer who is seeking better-for-you-indulgences. The third potential segment, non-dairy ice cream, is generally only consumed by those with a dairy allergy or intolerance – the taste compromise considered too great for the average consumer.

After quantitative testing and refinement, the winning positioning was able to expand the brand’s potential well beyond niche sorbet, while staying consistent with the target’s values of treating herself right without denying indulgence. We think their tagline sums it up perfectly: It’s Not Ice Cream. It’s Better. Yum!

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