Insight & Targeting: Häagen-Dazs

Getting inside the minds of the people you want to buy your brand

Taking proven models from psychology and using them to gain a new depth of insight into a target audience can transform market place performance.


Häagen-Dazs invented the premium ice cream sector in the 1980’s and has been an iconic brand ever since. However, over time competitive pressure and strategic uncertainty meant it had lost leadership, direction and confidence and was suffering falling consumer penetration.

Its once iconic advertising had become a series of lame jokes, price promotion was its only effective tactic and it was struggling to justify ongoing marketing support, despite the fact that most consumers remembered the brand fondly and there was a hardcore base of loyal brand advocates.

There was an urgent need to find a consumer insight and strategy that would give the business renewed confidence to invest in the brand.

Creative Facilitation

We reviewed all the marketing from the great and successful period around the early years of the brand’s launch. Working with the brand team we de-bunked the myths that had grown up around the brand’s success.

Then we reviewed the essence of the brand’s appeal with a clinical psychologist. Using psychological models not previously used in marketing, we identified the 14% of the total population for whom Häagen-Dazs could have special, personal appeal and the 20% to whom it would appeal strongly.

The model allowed us to identify precisely why the Häagen-Dazs brand was so successful with this group and build communication, distribution and promotional strategies designed to re-connect with the brand’s core. Importantly we could be categorical about what was on-brand behaviour and what was not, thus ending the speculation and uncertainty about what lay at the heart of Häagen-Dazs’ earlier success.


The business renewed their investment in the brand.

A new, three-tier distribution channel was adopted which recognised

  1. The opportunities that would underpin volume growth
  2. New channels that would increase consumer penetration and support the brand’s image
  3. New iconic opportunities which would not add significant volume, but which would burnish the brand

The key measures of volume, penetration, brand awareness and iconic status all returned to growth.

The brand outperformed its stretch targets achieving greater than 50% volume growth in five years.