How Ben & Jerry’s Flipped the Lid on Content Marketing Strategy

Ben & Jerry’s content marketing strategy involves bold flavors and social activism to maintain a positive brand and reputation.

From their fanciful flavor names to the way that they embrace political activism, any experienced content marketing agency should understand that Ben & Jerry’s provides a good example of a successful brand that does things a little differently. For example,most agencies will usually advise conducting market research as the very first step in developing a content marketing strategy.

In contrast, Ben & Jerry’s current CEO, Matthew McCarthy said that conducting too much market research can lead to mediocrity. Find out how this beloved brand has retained its market position by delivering what customers want without trying to spend to much time upfront attempting to even predict what that is.

What’s different About Ben & Jerry’s content marketing strategy?

Instead of creating a perception of maintaining just another high-quality ice cream brand, Ben & Jerry’s continues to generate a positive brand perception by working to disrupt their market and revolutionize society.

Maintaining their reputation as a disputer

So how can the CEO of Ben and Jerry’s say that too much research, a staple of most content marketing plans, can lead to mediocrity? McCarthy told Marketing Week that he spent years working for Unilever and for much of that career, they relied upon consumers to tell them exactly what they wanted. Of course, he agrees that this kind of research still provides an incredibly useful tool.

However, he’s learned that it’s impossible to please everybody and by trying, it can lead to not actually pleasing anybody that well. If you ask a random group of people to choose their favorite ice cream, a lot of them might settle upon chocolate, vanilla, or maybe, strawberry. Instead, Ben & Jerry’s has stood out by coming up with interesting and memorable concoctions that may or may not rely upon the old standby flavors as part of the mix.

Instead, they begin by having product development teams work with their flavor gurus, also known as professional chefs. After they’ve developed new flavors, they may test them by either sending them directly to market or by inviting small groups of Ben  Jerry’s fans to try a scoop. And he believes this practice continues to help them grow and maintain a reputation as a market disrupter, even though they’re an established brand that’s been around for over four decades and has a presence in at least 35 countries.

So, when Ben & Jerry’s introduces such brands as Phish Food, Cherry Garcia, and Americone Dream, everybody wants to find out what the buzz is all about. It doesn’t hurt that they’ve associated at least some of their flavors with celebrities. They can also glide a bit on not just their own media presence but also that of the people or concepts they honor and support with their delicious pints.

How Ben & Jerry’s maintains their activist image

Ben & Jerry’s dedicated one of the most popular flavors, Americone Dream, to Stephen Colbert. Not only that, a portion of profits also goes to some of Stephen Colbert’s favorite charities. Not only should an inbound marketing agency consider this an example of genius marketing, they should also take note that the favor’s really good.

Who wouldn’t like a fudge-covered pieces of waffle cones and caramel swirls drenched in a high-quality vanilla base? Plus, each pint helps such worthy causes as the environment, veterans, and disadvantaged children. Just mentioning it here will probably move a few more pints off the shelf. Don’t forget to try the Chunky Money while you’re at it. Besides sales, the extra attention has generated plenty of positive press from news agencies, supported charities, and of course, Colbert himself.

Ben and Jerry’s recent statement on white supremacy should not have surprised anybody who has followed a company that already introduced flavors like Pecan Resist and Justice Remix’d. Not only did their statement help them solidly their serious stance as a brand with a purpose, it also helped them align with activist movements.

What’s activism got to do with ice cream?

When asked by Marketing Dive what activism has to do with ice cream, the CEO said, “Not a lot. Except we care about it, and our team cares.” Judging by the extra positive mentions that Ben & Jerry’s has received by blogs, news sites, and even activist organizations, it looks like their customers care too.

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