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‘Younger consumers aren’t the core market they have been in the past’

Success for ice-cream – but children aren't the main consumers

By Rachel Arthur+

07-Jul-2014
Last updated on 07-Jul-2014 at 15:15 GMT

icecream europe germany older people

The German ice-cream market is the most valuable in Europe, worth $2.7b USD in 2013, according to market research firm Canadean – and it is older people, not children, who are driving the category forward. 

Consumers aged 55 and older account for almost 40% of consumption.

Catherine O’Connor, senior analyst, Canadean, told DairyReporter.com ice-cream is a convenient choice as it does not need cooking or preparation.

The ice-cream boom among older consumers is partly due to the large number of them in German society,” she said. “Those aged 55 and over make up 33.4% of Germany’s population, meaning that even if they were just eating their share of ice-cream proportional to their size, they would dominate the market.

However, they also over-consume, being responsible for 39.2% of consumption by volume.

Long freezer life span

For the oldest consumers, ice-cream makes a tasty treat that is suited to their needs: it makes for easy eating for those with dentures due to its soft texture, and it has a long freezer life span, making it an ideal choice for those who find getting out of the house for frequent grocery shopping difficult.

Older consumers represent a variety of budgets and tastes, said O’Connor.

The key for manufacturers is extending a range of products to reflect a multitude of needs among older consumers, rather than treating them as a homogenous group,” she said.

For one thing, those aged 55 and over cover a very broad spectrum of ages, ranging from those who are quite elderly to those who are youthful in their life-stage and outlook and don’t want to be targeted with product marketed around tradition or heritage.”

There is also a wide range of incomes in this age bracket, O’Connor added.

This means that there is scope for manufacturers to encourage older consumers with higher disposable incomes to trade up to premium style products, such as those with gourmet or seasonal ingredients and matte, paper carton packaging.

These products will appeal to quality-seekers, who drive a tenth of consumption among those aged 55 and over. However, brands should also provide more basic options for those with limited budgets, as the desire for value drives a fifth of older consumers’ consumption.

Younger consumers

Canadean predicts ‘overall sustained success’ for ice-cream in the country. However, O’Connor says the children’s market is not as pronounced as the share from older consumers.

14.2% of German consumers are aged 16 and under, and they are responsible for 15.0% of consumption.

This over-consumption isn’t anywhere near as pronounced as it is for older consumers, indicating younger consumers aren’t the core market that they have been in the past,” she said. “This is partially due to health concerns from parents over their kids consuming too much sugar and cream.

"It’s also due to there being a wider range of indulgent snack options now available for younger consumers, especially those that have a greater grab-and-go appeal, such as savoury snacks and confectionery. By contrast, older consumers are more willing to be bound to at-home consumption of products out of the freezer.