Friday, October 21, 2011

Ben & Jerry's: Schweddy Balls Not Always on a Shelf Near You

Ben and Jerry's has launched a new flavor called Schweddy Balls, a play on the famous Saturday Night Live skit below.  The ice cream, which contains fudge-covered rum balls, has sparked a protest from a conservative group called One Million Moms.  Moreover, many supermarket chains apparently have refused to stock the product.  Nevertheless, the company reports that it has become one of its best-selling limited edition flavors.

The question is:  Did Ben and Jerry's anticipate the controversy, and if so, did they go ahead anyway?  I suspect they did know that some retail partners would not stock the product, and that some negative publicity would emerge.  In the end, though, you have to ask yourself how you would define the company's target market.  I don't know many moms and dads who buy Ben and Jerry's for their small children.  It's expensive, after all, even if it is terrific ice cream.  If you have a family, you are likely to buy half gallons or gallons of less expensive ice cream.  Perhaps you splurge on occasion for Ben and Jerry's, most likely when you stop at one of their shops.

Who is the target market for Ben and Jerry's?  I believe it's adults with fairly high disposable income who seek a delightful indulgence, some of whom do not have young children at home.  It also includes people who identify with the firm's social mission.  Many people in that target market are not likely to be offended by this flavor.  In fact, the brand will be quite appealing to them, as they have fond memories of this particular SNL skit.

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