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How Ben & Jerry’s Took Both Its Ice Cream and Mission Global

Sarah Steimer

Ben & Jerry’s values are baked (nay, frozen) into its culture and its ice cream, and the company has taken to exporting those beliefs by way of pints and petitions

Ben & Jerry’s celebrated its entrance into the U.K. in 1994 in its trademark quirky manner: by creating a special flavor with a funky name. Cool Britannia, a strawberry ice cream with chocolate-covered shortbread cookies and a fudge swirl, has since been retired to the company’s famed Flavor Graveyard outside its Waterbury, Vermont, factory. The company’s leap across the pond and into new markets has, on the other hand, flourished.

By way of the U.K., Ben & Jerry’s entered other European countries, then Singapore in 2005, Australia in 2009, Japan in 2012, Brazil in 2014 and Thailand in 2016. In total, the brand’s ice cream can now be found in 35 countries. The company sometimes makes a few special tweaks to its marketing and flavors, depending on the location. Some countries get flavors not found in the U.S. (Minter Wonderland in the U.K. and Ireland, If I Had 1,000,000 Flavours in Canada, Maccha Made in Heaven in Japan), and Ben & Jerry’s will occasionally adjust the formulas if their pints are considered a bit large for a market such as Japan, or have names that are a bit too goofy for a serious food culture such as France.

By and large, though, much of what fans around the globe find in scoop shops and freezers stays true to the company’s funky, hippie culture that began in 1978. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield started the company in a renovated gas station in Vermont, a far cry from its shops in São Paulo, Brazil, or Auckland, New Zealand. The company introduces itself to new customers in much the same way the founders did in 1986 when they drove their “Cowmobile” across the U.S., handing out free ice cream.

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Sarah Steimer is managing editor of Marketing News. She may be reached at ssteimer@ama.org or on Twitter at @sarah_steimer.