The Future is Halo Top: How Halo Top Disrupted the Ice Cream Industry Using Social Media

What’s you favorite ice cream flavor? We probably have all heard the latter question during an ice breaker or another get-to-know-you activity. Whether your favorite flavor is simply vanilla or some absurd flavor with 3- different types of chocolate and miscellaneous ingredients, ice cream has become a staple food item in the lives of many.

Even if you hate ice cream, it’s hard to deny that the frozen treat is one of the most frequently consumed guilty pleasures in this country. In fact, ice cream is SO good that I (and many others) would love to sit down and devour an entire pint. Sounds good and all….except a pint of ice cream can be around 1000+ calories! It might be acceptable to eat an entire pint of ice cream maybe once in awhile (hello finals week), but it’s hard to justify on a daily basis, especially if you want to be at least somewhat health-conscious.

But…don’t you still wish you could?

If so, an ice cream company called Halo Top has the perfect value proposition for you! Halo Top, a premium “healthy” ice cream brand, offers pints of ice cream in a variety of flavors that range from 240-360 calories per pint. To put things into perspective, a serving of Ben & Jerry’s is around 250 calories. That means you can eat an entire pint of Halo Top and could have eaten less calories that you would have if you had one small serving of Ben & Jerry’s.

Sounds too good to be true, right?

Lucky for all of us, it’s true. Created in 2012 by a former lawyer, Justin Woolverton, Halo Top began its roots in Los Angeles. Woolverton started the company on a quest to find an all-natural, low-calorie ice cream that was low in sugar. Fast forward 5 years, Halo Top has uniquely positioned itself within the ice cream industry in a way that has allowed them to become the #1 selling ice cream pint in grocery stores, beating long-standing industry leaders Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen Dazs. In 2016, Halo Top sold 13.5 million pints and generated sales of around $66 million.

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Marketing themselves as an all-natural, healthy ice cream brand, Halo Top appeals to those consumers who want to indulge in dessert without feeling guilty. This “guilt-free” value proposition has carried Halo Top a long way- its sales have increased over 2500% in the last year alone. While Halo Top clearly has a value-add that allows it to differentiate itself from other ice cream brands, their social media strategy has been the main driver behind their immense success. Social media has allowed Halo Top to beat popular ice cream giants with minimal advertising expenses.

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Halo Top’s Social Media Strategy

Unlike many other traditional ice cream companies, Halo Top primarily focused its marketing efforts online when it first started off. Up until this past year, the company has been able to achieve success without traditional media spending. Lenny Chase, Halo Top’s VP of Marketing told Business Insider: “We started off really focused on digital and social, with more than 90% of our efforts on Facebook and Instagram.” As a “100% digitally native brand,” Halo Top has achieved an impressive presence on social media, with close to 600,000 followers on Instagram. Its Instagram account features countless colorful and fun images of their pints of ice cream.

Halo Top has relied on their in-house marketing team to advertise their low-calorie ice cream products through social media outreach. With a focus on authentic brand voice, Halo Top’s team creates new digital content and responds to hundreds of social media posts about its products every day, according to Bloomberg. It also encourages its consumers to use #HaloTop in social media posts, and many consumers post aesthetically pleasing pictures of their pints of Halo Top ice cream. Upon exploring their Facebook page, an automatic message will pop up and give you the opportunity to communicate with a member of the Halo Top team. The message says “typically replies within a few hours,” which is an example of their quick and efficient use of social media to communicate their brand.

In addition to creating a brand voice, Halo Top has used social media platforms and their close relationship with consumers to take advantage of word-of-mouth marketing. It’s almost like a cult– once you positively experience Halo Top, you will be hooked and you will try to get everyone around you to try it.

As Halo Top has grown over the years, it has continued to add new flavors. The company has turned to social media to ask its fans to suggest and to vote for new flavors. As a result, Halo Top has ended up with 17 different unique flavors that fit the taste of a wide spectrum of consumers. Some of their most interesting flavors are below:

 

Interesting Halo Top Flavors: 

  1. Oatmeal Cookie
  2. Mochi Green Tea
  3. Birthday Cake
  4. Lemon Cake
  5. Rainbow Swirl

Best-Worst-Halo-Top-Flavors

Due to its quick growth over the past few years, Halo Top has only recently been running online campaigns with the help of outside agencies. In September, Halo Top released a video that will air on its online and social channels, as well as in movie theaters before films. While the concept of the video is a bit strange (an old lady being force-fed ice cream by a robot), the commercial is anything but traditional, which goes along with the authenticity and uniqueness of Halo Tops’ brand. I’ll leave it up to you guys to decide whether you like the commercial or not, but for founder Woolverton, the commercial is perfect. Contrary to traditional commercials that can be a bit stale, Halo Tops’ video is “off the wall” and almost like “an anti-ad.” Woolverton adds: “I think people are just more interested these days in just something that’s just plain interesting, not something that’s too heavily branded.”

Halo Top’s social media strategy and online presence has been the golden ticket to being able to join the ranks of Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen Dazs in the ice cream category. Their use of digital platforms can be an useful example for other food manufacturers that are looking to increase market share. Halo Top should also be an example to leading brands. The company’s success shows the sheer power of social media efforts, and all companies can benefit from achieving a good social media strategy. If done correctly, companies can reach new potential customers quickly, develop an authentic brand voice, and save thousands (if not millions) of dollars every year.

Now off to eat an entire pint of Halo Top (and I hope you do too)!

Sources:

http://adage.com/article/print-edition/halo-top-conquering-ice-cream-biz-ads/308177/

https://www.fooddive.com/news/halo-top-uses-social-media-to-compete-with-ice-cream-giants/442345/

http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/halo-top-s-creepy-robot-humans-require-ice-cream/310365/

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-04/this-guilt-free-ice-cream-is-a-cult-hit-thanks-to-instagram

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-last-summers-trendiest-ice-cream-brand-halo-top-is-expanding-beyond-its-social-media-roots-to-go-national-2017-7

https://www.forbes.com/sites/charleskoppelman/2017/04/02/how-noosa-and-halo-top-are-disrupting-the-american-dairy-in-record-time/

10 comments

  1. Really interesting article! Even I have eaten halo top and it’s probably because at some point I saw them in social media and the idea of eating “healthy” ice cream sounded good. Overall its interesting how being such a young company, they have been able to penetrate supermarkets so fast and been able to outrank behemoths such as Ben and Jerry’s. This is good for consumers in general since we get a better product on our end, but also for entrepreneurs who now have the ability to enter markets which were once thought impenetrable.

  2. Wow loved this post! I think you explained perfectly how to successfully leverage social media platforms to increase brand awareness, and as a way to break-into previously crowded markets. The concept behind the brand’s creation (i.e. a healthy alternative to ice cream options) is also a brilliant move– a gap that was definitely ripe to be filled by some product. The success that young companies have had using almost exclusively online platforms, really evens out the playing field in terms of generating consumer interest. It’s kind of inspiring to see new companies challenge brand giants. I have seen Halo Top around, and always been curious. Now I will definitely try some! That commercial is pretty creepy, haha… I wonder what the companies thinking was on the timing behind choosing to enter the “mainstream” advertising world.

  3. This was a really interesting read! I am a huge ice cream eater, but unfortunately I don’t think Halo Top will be replacing my love of Ben and Jerry’s and White Mountain anytime soon. It is amazing how they have taken such a social approach to marketing. I constantly see ads from them and people posting photos. I think that because the product is a way to indulge in a more healthy way people are more likely to share their love of the product (it’s a little less embarrassing to love something on the healthier side). I also think their unique mix of flavors gives them an advantage because people will be curious and want to try them. I know my roommates are huge fans of the Oatmeal Cookie flavor (no wonder it’s number 1!). I think choosing to incorporate their consumers into the flavor choice is a really powerful strategy that other companies have also taken advantage of and had success with (thinking of those weird Lays flavors…). Definitely a young brand that will be interesting to see how they grow and adapt to more competitors such as Bryers new low cal ice cream!

  4. Really cool article! I thought that commercial in particular was really, really interesting. It seems like Halo Top is sticking to its strategy of sort of counterculture advertising, even when they are marketing in a traditional outlet like a commercial. While the content of the commercial is interesting, I think that it’s potential is enormous. I think that it will definitely achieve the goal that I’m assuming its creators were going for: to get people talking about the ad. I can very easily see people asking their friends if they’ve seen this commercial, or sharing it with their friends online. We have too many other options for entertainment to sit through and focus on an ad that doesn’t really grab our attention, but this advertisement is difficult to look away from. Really cool post.

  5. Love this post! I have to admit that I have become a huge Halo Top fan over the past few months, which actually started during finals week last semester. As soon as I began to eat Halo Top, I told all of my friends about it and wouldn’t stop tagging them in Halo Top’s Facebook posts until they too became addicted (it really is a cult!) Halo Top has definitely branded their Ice Cream on social media really well – they have really utilized Facebook, Instagram etc. to encourage people to buy their ice-cream despite its expensive $6.00+ price per pint. I recently saw a Spoon University article (https://spoonuniversity.com/lifestyle/halo-top-is-opening-a-scoop-shop-in-los-angeles) that revealed that Halo Top is opening their first storefront this Wednesday. I wonder if they are designing their store in a way similar to the Magnum Ice-cream Pop Up shop that was in NYC this past summer? In the Magnum Ice-cream Pop Up store, Magnum had wall murals specifically made for customers to take the best, Instagram-worthy pictures. In addition, they had their #MagnumNYC logo everywhere, really emphasizing their brand throughout the store. I wouldn’t be surprised if Halo Top’s store is very similar, since they already have such a significant social media presence.

  6. Great article! I totally agree that Halo Top is infiltrating society, especially when they’ve hit a niche demographic of millennial 20-year-old girls. Halo Top, like Swell bottles, Soul Cycle, etc., have all found that they can offer an upscale version of ice cream, water bottles, and spinning while charging a premium price. Another thing that Halo Top has done really well is leverage health/fitness bloggers, especially on Instagram. So many influencers will post pictures of themselves eating Halo Top along with their trendy kale salads, which provides Halo Top with free marketing. As these trendy brands continue to proliferate into our daily lives, I’d love to see how they stay alive as competitors will inevitably enter into the market.

  7. Awesome post! I can definitely affirm that I was sucked into the Halo Top Cult after my friend introduced me to it over the summer. I never knew that they had grown so much in thanks to social media, I just assumed that it was because people wanted healthier ice cream. Although the commercial is better than the run of the mill commercials on TV, I thought it was pretty creepy. I’m honestly kind of surprised that they made it. In my opinion, it actually decreased my view of the company.

  8. I have been well-aware of Halo Top since 2014, when my roommates heard about it and its appeal as a low-calorie ice cream. A couple weeks ago, my 5 roommates had a combined 14 pints in my freezer in a variety of different flavors (they are all in the “Halo Top Cult” that Andrew mentioned, I am the only one who is not). There was a point when one of my roommates would regularly call Wegman’s to see which flavors they had in stock. I would have to agree, though, that Halo Top effectively uses social media to gain a following–and I have to admit that their packaging really appeals to their target audience, which I’m assuming is millennial women.

  9. This one is new to me. It’s amazing how many companies are using social media to engage with customers and establish brand in novel ways.

  10. Very interesting ice cream! It was a big surprise that Halo Top had done a great marketing only use social media. This is very hard for ice cream because most people wouldn’t search for ice cream on purpose except ice cream fans. Social Media is very cost effective on marketing but I believe integrated marketing is necessary for a brand to grow. Nice to see Halo Top had won some wars in social media, but they might need to consider a combination of social media and traditional marketing if they want to be the number 1.

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