Over its 77-year history, Kiwi ice cream lovers have come to see the Tip Top range as a reliable hit for the sweet tooth. The taste and flavours of the different ice creams were well-known, and Kiwis had a certain expectation when they purchased a Tip Top ice cream. And by changing the composition of its products, Tip Top risked losing customers on account of the flavours changing.
To ensure that customers weren’t pushed away by the changes, Tip Top dedicated almost two years of research and development budget to create the new recipes for its various products. Since the use of palm oil was so pervasive in the industry at the time, there was little or no research on using alternative fats, which in turn meant that Tip Top had to pioneer in the field. And in certain instances it became the first company in the world to use some ingredients developed in conjunction with suppliers.
But placing all this focus on developing new recipes for old products meant that new product development was put on the back burner for two years. And for a company with a history of releasing new products in time for summer, this was a significant risk, especially because Unilever, its multi-national competitor, could roll out new global products in the local market at any stage.
Despite high risk of losing sales in the short term, Tip Top felt that it was a necessary move to ensure longer-term growth and to mitigate the potential of much more significant future risk. After spending two years in the lab developing the new flavours, Tip Top initially wanted to launch a loud and aggressive marketing campaign. But given that the company had evolved its offering, it decided instead to launch something that showed this coming of age. The creative used during the campaign aimed to tell the story through the eyes of the company growing up in New Zealand and recognising the importance of going ‘back to nature’.As the various products in the range were updated, Tip Top released new packaging so that consumers could easily identify which flavours had changed.
In supermarkets there was thorough sampling plans and consumer promotions themed to its natural messaging. In the route channel, it downplayed the messaging a little to POS on freezers, but ensured out of home advertising on the path to key customers had the natural messaging at peak selling times of the year. It also updated some of its livery, such as pavement blades, flags, menu boards and pop up parlours with the natural colours and flavours message. This was consolidated online, with the website being updated sporadically as additional flavours were added to the growing list of ice creams with new, more natural recipes.
In addition to using television and online advertising, Tip Top also embarked on its biggest PR campaign for many years, meeting with food industry journalists and opinion leaders. This media attention quickly attracted mainstream attention, which saw the Tip Top story feature on One News, various radio broadcasts and in print—and the vast majority of this coverage was positive.