Interview with Birds Eye Wall’s marketing director Michael Hebel

Although the hot summer has obviously affected sales, the underlying long-term trend is perhaps more significant. To measure this, Birds Eye Wall’s calculates hours of sunshine and rainfall to determine the weather factor and then takes this into account to discover true volume growth. This summer volume increased two to three per cent after accounting for the weather. The impulse sector has grown by 20 per cent to 318m.

The market in the UK is very different from the rest of Europe. In most European countries the ice cream habit started many years ago with ice cream parlours, which established a different heritage and less seasonality. Consumption in the UK is much lower, at only one litre per head per year. In most of Europe it is at least three litres.

To develop the market, it is necessary to offer a range of products clearly targeted at distinct consumer groups, with distinct needs, and to differentiate adult, teenage and child brands.

Adult brands such as Magnum and Solero have an emphasis on high product quality and acceptable portion size. Advertising for adult brands uses language and imagery which is very different to that for the children’s products because it talks about obsession and personal experience. We have started to advertise Magnum multipacks out of the main, four-month season, which has also had a real impact on impulse sales.

We are not just trying to build the brand, but to change behaviour. And that is about the biggest marketing task you can think of.


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