News & Insights

Ice Cream Brands: Looking to Churn the Corner?!

By Craig Blakaitis and Haley Silvers

Person being handed an ice cream cone.

With growing competition for consumer mindshare, ice cream brands need to do more to remain relevant. If brands want to capture the attention of consumers, they’ll need to think really outside the container—especially as the media landscape gets smaller and brands (from all walks of life) are going bigger. As experts in the ice cream industry, we took a dive into what gets the media and consumers truly excited. So, grab a bowl of your favorite flavor and have a read at the trends we think every ice cream brand should be thinking about in 2022.

The “They Did What?!” Factor

Collaborations are nothing new, but partnerships that lean into truly unique flavors—that are relevant now—are winning with media and consumers alike. Case in point, Van Leeuwen’s collaboration with Kraft. On National Macaroni and Cheese Day, Van Leeuwen announced a limited-edition Kraft Macaroni and Cheese flavored ice cream that sparked earned media conversation. The unique flavor combination captured the imagination and the ice cream sold out in just one hour. Another fan favorite, Carvel’s limited-edition shakes inspired by Hocus Pocus’s Sanderson sisters.

A Pop of Culture

Leaning into pop culture can generate a lot of buzz— but it needs to be done with an eye towards authenticity. A great example is Salt & Straw’s “2021 Gone Viral” ice cream line. Each flavor was uniquely inspired by 2021’s top trends like “Squid Game”, billionaires launching rockets to space, #FreeBritney, NFTs, and Lizzo’s TikTok viral recipe for “Nature’s Cereal”.

Think Beyond National Ice Cream Day

National Ice Cream Day is the moment in time for so many ice cream brands, but it doesn’t have to be the only one—especially when coverage is typically focused on deals. Take Breyers’ campaign on National Insurance Awareness Day—the brand released its new and improved Cookies and Cream flavor with a “Cookie Coverage” policy that let customers redeem a free tub of ice cream if they submit a claim stating they were dissatisfied with the amount of cookies in their ice cream. Genius, unexpected and more than just a mention in a round-up!

Business for Good

Consumers’ expectations of brands are evolving—and the ice cream category is no exception.  According to research from Ipsos, over half of consumers expect brands to take a stand on equality and social justice. Ben & Jerry’s has always considered social good and advocacy a core tenant of its brand, and its new flavor collaborations, including the brand’s “Change is Brewing” flavor in partnership with BLK & Bold, a Black-owned coffee company with packaging designed by a Black artist, Laci Jordan, strikes the right chord and is a perfect example of living your brand truth.

The Final Scoop

We’ve lived and breathed ice cream at RF|Binder for a long time—and have seen trends come and go. And the brands that continue to win are those that take real chances, that put something out into the world that’s different, really fun—and always delicious. And most importantly, those that put their product and their brand’s DNA into the heart and soul of every idea. We’ve done that for some of today’s top ice cream brands and can’t wait to help other brands—both emerging and established—do really great things too.

Want to learn more? Email me at – would love to chat!

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