Icycl, a premium consumer brand was conceived by Dan Ronson following two quite different experiences in two middle eastern luxury hotels. In one hotel Dan was served a delicious natural tasting guava ice-lolly by the pool; at the other, he was served a forgettable, synthetic tasting tip-top. He and other guests commented to each other that they weren’t a patch on the guava ice-lollies served by the competitor hotel – so memorable had they been. On returning from his second holiday, Dan researched the market for adult ice-lollies, asking his mate Bill to help. Between them they identified key trends identified by Mintel, Nielsen and other analysts relating to alcohol consumption; preferences of young Women; and the emerging artisanal market for alcoholic ice-lollies. They also identified limitations in the distribution of such products, and limitations of related pouched drinks designed for home freezing and consumption.
Dan and Bill established relationships with Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Food Industry Centre, South Wales University’s Faculty of Design, Nuance & Fathom a brand and marketing agency, and a number of specialist business mentors to pull together a multi-disciplined team of professionals to develop a new branded alcoholic ice pop to meet key consumption trends, and to overcome the limitations identified for existing comparable products. Informed by their research findings, Dan and Bill defined the following objectives for Icycl:
Technical objectives defined for Icycl:
- To be stored and shipped at ambient temperature
- To require no glassware for consumption
- Able to be stored for at least 12 months ambient
- Able to be frozen, thawed and re-frozen without deterioration
Functional objectives defined for Icycl:
- To be truly delicious
- To be able to be consumed anywhere (in a bar, at a festival, at home or at a party)
- To be safe – no spillage; no spiking and no risk of injury from glass
Emotional objectives defined for Icycl:
- To create a brand associated with having fun with friends, being associated with the most memorable moments
- A fun brand for adults to enjoy with their friends
In total over 15 people drawn from different specialisms were involved in the development of Icycl – the branding, the recipes, the food science, the manufacturing specification, sourcing of ingredients, packaging design, and materials engineering. 100% of our development objectives were achieved during product development, throughout which Dan and Bill placed priority on achieving a truly delicious and consistent taste – had it not been possible to achieve a natural fresh taste superior to all other comparable products, Icycl would not have reached market… Icycl had to be memorable like that guava ice-lolly that started the whole journey.
Great R&D provided the foundation for our premium consumer brand, but would it/could it be recognised by consumers as a premium alcohol brand despite its relatively low unit price? And, unlike many comparable pouch-based alcoholic drinks consumed frozen, could it succeed in both the on-trade (bars, nightclubs and festivals) and for home consumption (parties, BBQs, picnics and Big Nights-In). And, would it be a product limited to the summer months or a product that would be relevant year-round?
We are well on the way to answering these questions. Icycl has been listed since September for sale in Stonegate Pubs Popworld venues in 18 UK city centre locations. Being sold over the bar from bar-top freezers Stonegate has additionally taken the initiative to sell Icycl directly to consumers while they dance recognizing that Icycl’s hand-held consume-from-the-pouch stick pack allows consumption whilst on the move, keeping people cool and refreshed as they dance. In parallel, we have been working with Fenwick department stores to retail Icycl in their food halls. During October, November and December Icycl has exceeded all expectations selling 9,000 units and being bought by or for adult women typically aged 20 to 34 years old either as a gift or for their own home consumption. Since December Icycl has also appeared on the shelves of Filco Supermarkets, initially positioned as an ideal fun and social product for Christmas and New year celebrations.
But is Icycl a premium consumer brand? At £2.50 to £3 per Icycl in the on-trade, and £1.95 in Fenwick we are proving that Icycl does achieve a premium when compared to comparable products. Feedback from consumers, confirms that they regard the taste to be far superior to alternatives, and that they like the fact that Icycl is a new, independent brand that feels different to ‘another’ brand extension by one of the big-boys. An Icycl bought as a single product is a day to day pleasure that can be enjoyed without breaking the bank, and our multi-pack formats (3 pack or 6 pack) are recognized to be intrinsically sociable (i.e. offering 3 or more individual portions) and ideal for Big Nights In. Feedback from Stonegate pubs suggests that Icycl is building a loyal group of repeat purchasers who have an Icycl whenever they are at a Popworld venue. That loyalty, driven by a superior natural taste, indicates that Icycl is building strong followship, a recognized characteristic of premium consumer brands.
We have a long way to go, but as distribution builds in the UK, Europe and North America, it is clear that Icycl can command a premium price, and can offer retailers in both the on-trade and off-trade premium margins. We are committed to maintaining Icycl’s premium position through flavour innovation, superior design and effective brand promotion.