Ice Cream: The Quintessential Go-To Dessert

Let’s face it, when consumers think of dessert, ice cream is frequently at the top of the list!

Cool, refreshing, and available in a myriad of flavors – from long-standing favorites like chocolate and vanilla to progressive varieties featuring blood orange and pistachio – there’s something for everyone to love.
We recently launched a comprehensive study on the Milkshake and Soft Serve categories to further understand what’s trending, and why consumers have a love affair with these treats.

Milkshakes, in addition to their decadent appeal, bring the added benefit of portability, making them a natural choice for on-the-go consumers. In our recent consumer insights study, we found that convenience was one of the top three factors that motivates guests to order Milkshakes. The top two reasons? “Having a craving” and “wanting to treat myself”. Interestingly, Soft Serve ice cream garnered the same top three responses in terms of motivators.

Both categories are seeing a surge in more creative flavors, like salted caramel, brown sugar, s,mores and Nutella®.

Within the Milkshake arena, we also see non-traditional tastes on the cusp… think bacon and cheesecake flavored shakes. And of course, “Freak Shakes” are not to be overlooked, with their inherent appeal as Instagram-worthy offerings loaded with over-the-top indulgence.
So why do consumers sometimes forego these sweet treats? Calorie content was often noted as a concern, followed by guests being too full – as well as feeling these options are too pricey. Experimenting with mini-sized shakes and sundaes is a natural solution, as is bundling.

Soft Serve and Milkshakes are consumed both as snacks and with meals, but Soft Serve is much more likely to be eaten as a snack. In fact, 68% of consumers indicate that they are most likely to choose Soft Serve at snack time versus with their meal. Conversely, Milkshakes appear to be more versatile, with 53% opting for them as a snack and 47% electing to have with their meal.

No matter how you slice it, frozen treats are a mainstay on menus, with a natural ability to address the need for a craveable treat across all age ranges. Keeping the menu fresh and inventive is key to a successful frozen dessert program.