Häagen-Dazs Unveils Its New Summer Collection Inspired By Street Foods - Exclusive Interview

We are all screaming for this ice cream. Häagen-Dazs just added five new flavors to its portfolio, and they are the perfect poolside treat. The City Sweets collection is inspired by iconic street foods, like crispy churros, black and white cookies, pretzels, and more (per the company's press release). The entire collection of new flavors includes Dulce de Leche Churro, Coffee Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel, Summer Berry Cake Pop, and Black & White Cookie.

If there are any original vanilla fans out there, you should definitely try the Black & White Cookie pint. During an exclusive interview with Mashed, Rachel Jaiven, head of Häagen-Dazs marketing, explained the inspiration behind this new line, how the brand is marketing it, and what fans can expect from Häagen-Dazs in the coming months. Rachel even revealed Häagen-Dazs' top-selling ice cream flavor (any guesses?). The brand also paired up with singer Leslie Grace and Brooklyn-based artist Jade Purple Brown for an epic package design.

How Häagen-Dazs promoted the City Sweets collection

Are there any marketing initiatives other than social media that you are using for the City Sweets line? I know you mentioned you had an event last night.

We kicked off our whole campaign behind City Sweets about a couple of weeks ago with any kind of marketing vehicle you can see out there. We have print, TV, social, programmatics, some amazing takeovers over the summer with Twitter and many other channels — a really exciting media spend. We kicked off ... last night with a Bodega activation, with a bunch of partners and some influencers for a VIP preview. We picked the Bodega in Brooklyn to unveil the new collection, and tonight, we have an event to invite consumers over to try the products.

Which social platform do you find is the most effective to promote a new flavor line? I saw you posted on Instagram.

We find that Instagram is a great place for us. That's probably the one that we find the most success with mostly because we have a great audience there, but also we have so many great partners that we get to work with all of our influencers with their followers. It's a way that we can certainly talk about all the great things we're doing with the brand and our collection, but also for them to talk about their experience with the product.

Rachel explains how long it takes to bring new ideas to market

How do you come up with new and innovative flavors like these? What was your inspiration behind this line?

The inspiration behind the City Sweets line is really about iconic street treats, [which are] sweet treats that you get when you're out and about in the city. We thought about all of those great things you can get when you visit cities. A street cart churro or a pretzel or black-and-white cookie from a bodega or a deli, those were all inspirations that helped with developing these flavors. We felt that they were really great for us to talk about a way to enjoy the best part of Häagen-Dazs, the incredible ice cream that we make, but also a little bit of more indulgence and playful flavors.

How long does it take to bring those ideas to fruition? How long does it take to take those ideas and bring them to shelves?

The idea started [in] late 2020, and then we go through a number of different iterations with our team on flavors and getting it right. Then, we have to make sure that we can make it on the line and then we bring it to market and it starts to hit shelves in January, the year that we launched. It's quite a process, a very fun one, and time actually goes really quickly when we do it.

Häagen-Dazs reaches all age demographics

Do you find that Häagen-Dazs fans gravitate towards newer flavors like these, or the more original flavors?

It's a bit of both. We have an incredible brand with such legacy flavors, like coffee and vanilla and chocolate, and those do really well with people who know and love Häagen-Dazs. We're reaching a younger consumer with some of these more exciting, unique flavors, like the City Sweets collection. It's a bit of a mix. The classics do really well, and we're excited to see the City Sweets do well as well.

Do you find that the classics reach older demographics? I know you mentioned the younger are after the newer flavors, but what are the general demographics for your business? Who do you normally market towards?

We are reaching people who love ice cream, number one, and our core consumer is definitely across many different ages. Häagen-Dazs has been around since 1960, so we have a lot of loyalists, people who've grown up with the brand, but that's true for younger consumers as well. What we do see is that all households are buying Häagen-Dazs, and we certainly see that the classic flavors are the ones that a little bit of an older demographic prefers, but that's that. The newer, more indulgent flavors are something that we know will appeal to them as well.

Do you, with these marketing initiatives, especially with the social platforms, find that the younger demographic responds well to those?

Absolutely, yes. [For] the younger demographic, we're reaching millennials and Gen Z [members] and they're definitely engaging with us well. They love the products. We mentioned the bodega event last night, we had so many great people who were connecting with the brand. They're so thrilled about what we're doing on Häagen-Dazs, and especially with the flavors, but also, we have a brand purpose around elevating tastemakers and they love what we're doing to sort of celebrate individuals and creators and whatnot. It's all tied really nicely together.

Rachel reveals Häagen-Dazs top-selling ice cream flavor

That's really exciting. Are you doing any sort of giveaways on Instagram or any kind of sweepstakes?

Not right now, we don't have that plan for Instagram, any kind of giveaway. We did have this bodega event. We're inviting people in New York to come to Brooklyn to have some ice cream. We'll be open from 12 to 8 today and people can stop by and take in this bodega experience, because again, it's to celebrate the roots of those iconic street treats, but we don't really have any sweepstakes planned for the year.

In general, this might be tough since you guys have so many amazing flavors, but what's your top-selling ice cream flavor?

It's not going to surprise you, but the number one Häagen-Dazs flavor is vanilla.

That's the one I was going to guess.

After that, it depends between coffee and strawberry. It's so interesting. Those flavors switch a number two and number three position, but vanilla is a standout flavor. Our Häagen-Dazs vanilla is exceptional, and that is definitely the number one flavoring, number one selling flavor. The new flavors that we just launched, the City Sweets flavors — one thing I should mention is that when we were developing them, what we knew we wanted to do is bring more indulgence, but we wanted to lean into the top selling flavors that we have in the portfolio. 

Vanilla [is] the inspiration for that black-and-white cookie flavor that you tried. We have strawberry, coffee chocolate peanut butter, and dulce de leche churro. [They're all] top selling flavors, but re-imagined in a new way. People who love those flavors can experience it in a new form. I should have mentioned that before, but it's a really cool way that we brought classics to a new way but to a new interpretation.

How Häagen-Dazs markets to dairy-free customers

That's really cool. It's a great idea. So I've noticed that a lot of dairy-free substitutes are coming to market. Are you finding it difficult to combat those brands and are they cutting into your market at all?

We believe ice cream is for everyone in different forms. We do have some sorbet flavors that we do make available that are dairy-free. It's important to reach all those types of audiences and, fortunately for us, our business is doing really well. Our brand is growing. There are roles for each brands to play, and we have a good portfolio to be able to address that for all consumers.

That's great. When did those sorbets come out? I didn't know that you guys had those.

Oh yeah. The sorbets have been around actually for quite a few years and they're delicious. We have a raspberry flavor, a lemon flavor, and they bring forward incredible flavor of the actual [fruit], but then also the texture and creaminess that you'd expect from Häagen-Dazs. They're really quite decadent, [and it's] nice for us to offer for people who are looking for something that's dairy-free.

Rachel shares how inflation will affect Häagen-Dazs

You guys are ahead of the game, that's awesome. It's obviously been an inflationary period. How are you guys maintaining profit through that?

Certainly it is an interesting time to be selling products, whatever category you're in, for us and at Häagen-Dazs. We are not compromising in any bit on our quality because that's what people believe and trust from Häagen-Dazs. We are looking at everything around how we can support our brand. We are not taking the foot off the pedal with our marketing investment. When we build a brand like Häagen-Dazs, you talk about the power of brand storytelling. Everything that we're doing around the new City Sweets collection, talking about how Häagen-Dazs believes in great quality or things that consumers will believe in, and hopefully, they will still continue to indulge in our product. Apart from that, we're not compromising on anything, we're observing what's going on and staying very close to it.

I've noticed a lot of brands are starting to change their ingredients. Yu mentioned you aren't changing the quality. Have you had to change the quantity or anything of the slight for the products?

No, definitely not. Thank you for asking that — we don't want to compromise on anything that people would expect from Häagen-Dazs. The ingredient quality is not changing, the size of the products not changing. We want to make sure that consumers are getting to enjoy Häagen-Dazs the way that they have been for many years.

Why Häagen-Dazs is popular all year round

Aside from the City Sweets collection, are there any more fun or new seasonal flavors that fans can expect with the summer coming up or even the fall season?

Our new collection is the City Sweets collection. We launched it this year. We don't have any other flavors planned for the balance of year, but stay tuned, keep your ears and eyes plugged in for things to come. It's always fun and exciting to work on new flavors and experiences for consumers.

Do you find that there are favorite flavors based on the season throughout the year, or is it mostly consistent with vanilla, like you said?

Vanilla is the number one flavor regardless of what time of the year, but we do see that some flavors do pop a little bit more seasonally. [It's] not a surprise vanilla is really strong, probably gets stronger in the holiday time period, as people are at home celebrating with their families, around certain holidays and want to have the classic incredible Häagen-Dazs vanilla alongside their desserts. That's when we see a little bit of a bump, but apart from that, no, things don't change too much on ice cream sales throughout the year for us.

Even through the winter, do you find that it's harder to promote marketing initiatives or is it kind of consistent?

No, our marketing is year round and we see sales certainly do peak in the summer, but they're really strong throughout the year. Consumers are open to messaging about ice cream because they love ice cream. We know that certainly more people are eating ice cream in the summer, but that doesn't mean that people are not interested in hearing about ice cream through the long winter when they want to stay home and indulge.

How Häagen-Dazs picked tastemakers for the City Sweet Collection

Are there any other details that you wanted to share about the City Sweets collection [...]?

Yeah. One thing I should have mentioned and would be nice is to talk about with our new City Sweets collection, we partnered with one of our tastemakers from last year, her name's Jade Purple Brown, to do some of the iconic packaging that you see on the lineup. The reason why that's so exciting is that we launched last year with our new brand purpose about elevating tastemakers and giving them opportunities to have their voices heard. It was really exciting. 

We worked with Jade last year and we said, we'd love to have her do the design for this new City Sweets collection. She's an artist based in Brooklyn, and it was really great to be able to partner with her and to showcase a little bit about commitment that we have to our brand purpose. It was great because Jade came to the event last night and she's so thrilled and it's really great to showcase her work alongside with others that we get to partner with.

How do you go about choosing who's the "face" of the line? Is there any criteria that you go through to do that?

We work with a number of different tastemakers, so we don't have just one person. We are working with Leslie Grace, we have Jade, we have a number of other incredible partners. When we think about that, we are looking for talent. People who really embrace this idea of "That's Daz," which is our campaign, which is this idea of celebrating who you are authentically ... luxury is for everyone and tastemakers are the ones who are defining the new way to express themselves.

That goes back to our roots as a brand with our original tastemakers, as we call it, with Reuben and Rose Mattus, they were from Brooklyn. They said, "We want to change the world of ice cream," and they invented Häagen-Dazs and they've really done that. We're excited to find other tastemakers to come and tell their own story, bring that next generation of tastemakers forward. We don't have just one, we have many, and that's part of the mission about being luxury for everyone for "That's Daz," so that's the criteria, in a way.

Head to Häagen-Dazs' website to learn more about its products and the new City Sweets Ice Cream Collection.