All over the world people scream for ice cream.

Ice cream’s a booming market, one that’s expected to reach $89 billion in 2022.

New Zealanders indulge the most—about 7.5 gallons per capita per year. Americans eat an average of 5.5 gallons.

Fan-favorite Haagen-Dazs entered the market in 1960 with just three flavors: vanilla, chocolate and coffee. With more flavors they opened their first retail shop in 1976. There’s now over 200 franchise locations in the U.S. alone. Today you can buy Haagen-Dazs all over the world, at airport kiosks, even in your hotel’s minibar.

By adding new flavors, new ventures and new products, Haagen-Dazs has managed to survive and thrive in this competitive space.

Of course, their loyal customer base has also been key to their success.



Why Customer Loyalty is Important for Haagen-Dazs

Try counting the number of brands next time you’re at the supermarket, especially in the premium section—you know, the good stuff you can only buy by the pint.

Every time I go shopping, it seems like there are new brands, flavors or trend-based offerings. You have your organic lines, artisan gelatos, lactose-free choices and even dairy type alternatives.

Goat milk ice cream anyone?

With such variety and the fact that there’s always a brand or two on sale, is there such a thing as customer loyalty when it comes to ice cream?

That’s a good question.

Even Haagen-Dazs, the pioneer of the premium stuff, must figure out how to get people to grab their pints from the freezer section. And they have to entice people to walk through the doors of their shops instead of Ben & Jerry’s.

Let’s take a look at the multi-faceted approach they’ve taken to build customer loyalty to their brand.

Haagen-Dazs’ Blueprint For Building Customer Loyalty

1.  Show Appreciation For Every Customer With Special Experiences

Haagen-Dazs knows their loyal following contributes to their brand’s longevity and market share. But that doesn’t mean special events and campaigns are only for the “regulars”.

Every year Haagen-Dazs celebrates its own birthday with a Free Cone Day for every person that comes into one of their shops. It’s a way to thank loyal customers, but it also builds goodwill with new or infrequent visitors.

To celebrate the milestone of 60 years in business, Haagen-Dazs chose a more unique way to show their appreciation. They created a Snapchat augmented reality (AR) experience that customers could access by scanning a snapcode printed on pints of Haagen-Dazs ice cream.

haagen dazs customer loyalty augmented reality app

This appealed to their socially driven customers who were able to have a little fun and win prizes and free ice cream. And Haagen-Dazs got some free publicity through a shareable experience.

2. Take Social Responsibility Seriously

Haagen-Dazs understands it must appeal to their customers’ values, not just their taste buds, to earn their loyalty.

It’s especially true with Millenials and Gen Z, the most socially conscious and in-tune-with-the-world generations.

Brands that don’t adhere to their social standards risk losing revenue and widespread shaming on social media. Chick-fil-A’s charitable donations to anti-gay organizations and Jimmy Johns’ founder getting photographed hunting elephants serve as cautionary tales for what happens when values don’t align.

Haagen-Dazs has shown it takes social responsibility seriously.

For example, they’ve been committed to saving honey bees through donating a percentage of profits to education efforts and research. They also installed a 6-mile permanent hedgerow to serve as a pollinator habitat at their almond supplier. These efforts earned Haagen-Dazs the “bee friendly” seal, the first ice cream to be given that distinction.

haagen dazs honey bee ethical sourcing

Haagen-Dazs also debuted its first reuasable stainless steel container to use with a subscription-based home delivery partner. Customers will be able to purchase these containers in store and receive a discount on refills when they bring them back in. Both are part of Haagen-Dazs’ parent company’s efforts to make 100% of products recyclable or reusable by 2025.

haagen dazs stainless steel delivery partner

3. Listen to What Customers Want and Make Changes

For decades, Haagen-Dazs was known for its gold, maroon and white packaging design. What some customers would consider nostalgic and pleasing, they determined others found stuffy, elitist and boring.

So Haagen-Dazs shed that image and modernized in an effort to appeal to changing demographics. They understood the importance of listening to the customer rather than maintaining their historical brand image.

They managed to find a balance that didn’t alienate loyal long-time customers or turn off the younger set.

Haagen-Dazs also heeded the call to provide alternatives to the decadent, high butterfat ice cream they’ve been known for. Offering sorbets, frozen yogurt, and low-sugar flavors helped retain loyal customers and attract new ones.

4. Recognize the Importance of Customer Experience

Haagen-Dazs can’t control the experience of buying a pint of their ice cream at the supermarket, but it can control the customer’s experience in its retail stores.

And they know “going out for ice cream” is about more than just the ice cream. If it weren’t, people would just eat a scoop at home.

A visit to one of their stores could be someone’s lone weekly indulgence. It could be a special family night out or a soccer team’s big win. And Haagen-Dazs strives to make each experience a memorable one.

By streamlining their stores with a “modern and classic” design, a simple ordering process, and a separate tasting station, Haagen-Dazs hopes they’ve created a customer experience worth repeating again and again.

haagen dazs modern classic design ice cream store

5. Launch a Digital Customer Loyalty Program

If there’s anything people love more than ice cream, it’s free ice cream.

And Haagen-Dazs’ loyal customers can accumulate rewards for free ice cream through their Sweet Rewards program. This online reward program effectively builds loyalty with their current customers through point accumulation and a free birthday cone. It’s also an inexpensive way to market to new customers with a free scoop with signup.

haagen dazs customer loyalty app sweet treats sweet rewards customer

Try a Customer Loyalty Program for Your Store

There are many effective ways to build customer loyalty. Like Haagen-Dazs, most businesses will require more than one. However, online reward programs are among the easiest ways to build loyalty quickly.

Consider an easy-to-use reward program like CandyBar if you’re looking to get started.


Posted by Amy Geist

Amy is a freelance B2B marketing writer. She loves outdoor adventures and embarrassing her teen daughters.