Tuesday, March 31, 2009

See these ice cubes? See these Ice Creams?

I am currently working on a project for my Marketing Policies class, and the client which my team is working with is none other than Amy's Ice Creams. Having met Amy herself, and proceeding to think about the business and its intricacies, I began to wonder more about the interesting world of ice cream vendors. The thing that intrigued me, and ultimately inspired me to blog about the topic, was the fact that eating ice cream is all about the experience.

Ice cream is readily available to those who want it. Good ice cream is available to those who look in the right places. Premium ice cream is... well, I'm not entirely sure what or where it is, but Amy's Ice Creams (along with Marble Slab, Cold Stone, etc.) claims to offer it.

The premise that I write this blog upon, however, is what drives a person (or a group of people) to eat ice cream at a vendor such as Amy's or Cold Stone. Why not just eat the ice cream at home? Why not buy a container and enjoy it over a movie - it's cheaper that way.

I, personally, am not an avid ice cream eater. I know plenty who are though, and they seem to specifically enjoy ice cream runs in groups of two or more. They are willing to pay more for ice cream at say Amy's (from here on out, I will focus on only Amy's Ice Creams) than they would for a big tub of ice cream at HEB which tastes probably just as good--just without the fixings. My question then becomes: what about this experience makes you want to pay a premium for ice cream? I have begun to compare it to engaging in consumption of alcoholic beverages downtown (come to think of it, almost anything is an example of this... food, movies, etc.) You are in a social setting with friends and you all decide to go out for some drinks. You end up paying probably about at least double what you could have paid if you bought a bottle and mixed the drinks yourself at home. This very insight is the driving force behind the blog topic. Why do consumers purchase items or services at a premium when they have the choice of a cheaper alternative at their disposal?

Focusing on ice cream, specifically Amy's, is the experiential aspect of eating ice cream there. Amy's is supposed to be a fun-loving, cooky, and zany type of atmosphere which patrons are supposed to enjoy to the fullest. This is arguably the reason why people go to eat ice cream there. The customer is given multiple options to choose from, especially when throwing the "crush'ns" in the mix. At home, the consumer has only 1 maybe 2 flavors at the most (I don't suppose many people have 3 different types of ice cream in their home unless... they just splurge). Still to me, the very-occasional-ice-cream-eater, these reasons are simply not enough.

As a result, I have been led to conclude that eating ice cream at a shop like Amy's is entirely emotional/experiential. Perhaps eating Amy's reminds people of eating ice cream after baseball games when they were a kid. Maybe people's parents used to buy them ice cream after getting all As on their report card. I'm convinced emotion has so much more to do with it than the combo of flavor and toppings. In addition, experiencing ice cream at a vendor with your friends during a study break or after a long day out playing sports is part of the Amy's experience. These emotional drivers are the aspect of the project which most interests me.


  1. I love this blog!!

    Well, I think it's because these premium ice cream places don't offer ice cream to be bought outside of their store and personally, I think these ice cream vendors all taste very different. Also, when you buy a tub of ice cream you are committed to that flavor for an amount of time. However, if you go to the ice cream vendor, you can choose multiple flavors and multiple crush'ns. I think the social factor plays a role as well, it's something to be shared with a friend. However, I personally belief its the ability to have multiple options that is the most relevant. I might argue that the "social setting" sometimes makes it a hindrance. Sometimes I really want Amy's Ice Cream but I don't want to go unless someone comes with me.

  2. Also!!!

    When Ben and Jerry's started offering their ice cream to be sold at Wal*mart, I bought my favorite flavor in small proportions and stop going to the Ben & Jerry's store instead. Whenever asked to go to an ice cream place, I chose a place where I couldn't get the ice cream in the grocery store.