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Yuengling’s Ice Cream: Branding Is Relative

Up until recently, requesting an ice cold Yuengling posed no
confusion: clearly, the desired item was a beer made by America’s oldest
operating brewery. This summer, that is no longer necessarily the case,
thanks to the debut of Yuengling’s Ice Cream! The brand name of the
award-winning brew is now shared by a creamy frozen confection line that
comes in a variety of unique flavors, including a “Black & Tan”
homage to its brewery roots. (The “black” is rich Belgian chocolate ice
cream; the “tan” is salty caramel ice cream.)

No ordinary product
line extension, Yuengling’s Ice Cream was first created in the 1920s
during the Prohibition Era. The ice cream proved so popular that, when
Prohibition ended in the 1930s, the brewery’s founder split the
companies in two, with his son running the ice cream company. Ice cream
production ceased 1985 with the retirement of the Yuengling-in-charge.
“When I wanted to restart my grandfather’s ice cream company, I had to
ask permission from my cousin who runs the brewery,” said David
Yuengling, CEO, Yuengling’s Ice Cream. “He said yes, but asked two
things: 1) don’t make any beer flavored ice cream, and 2) make sure it’s
a high-quality product worthy of the Yuengling name.” So in 2015, 30
years after Yuengling’s disappeared from grocery store freezers, a new
generation of Yuengling is ensuring a new generation of consumers can
enjoy his family’s ice cream.

Original Sea Salt Caramel Swirl.
Root Beer Float. Vanilla Fudge Chunk with Pretzels. When asked what
differentiates Yuengling’s from the many established and new
competitors, David likened the craft nature of the ice cream to that
which the beer is known for. “We spent a lot of time researching it all,
from manufacturing and ingredients to management and distribution. When
the final business plan was done, it just made so much sense we had to
do it.”

That business plan recognized that the Yuengling family
values matched up with an unfulfilled market opportunity: craft ice
cream made in America. “There’s not a lot of high-quality ice cream that
is reasonably priced. We fill the void between the Turkey Hill /
Breyers and Haagen-Dazs / Ben & Jerry’s areas, offering high-quality
ingredients at a reasonable price point,” said David. He added, “We’re
proud to be an American-made, American-owned family brand, and we think
that’s important to other people too, especially with brands like Ben
& Jerry’s now made by Unilever.”

Family is a consistent them
with Yuengling’s Ice Cream. The company has taken special note of their
(literally) cousin brand’s marketing efforts and loyalty programming.
“The brewery’s fans are very loyal, and we are building the same
concept.” David elaborated, “We created the Lovin’ Spoonful Loyal
Customer program so people can get coupons, information about sales
before others, even discounts on merchandise…when we have it.” He also
noted that their launch has been done without traditional advertising;
instead, they chose social media advertising as a way to help spread the
word. But there is a place for traditional marketing, too: “We figure
the best way to get people to buy is to get them to try, and we’re doing
that with sampling up and down the east coast and other areas.”

Ice Cream is expanding rapidly, with plans to be in 3,000 stores by the
end of the summer, and the recognition of the name is helping the new
brand catch on. “Sometimes, though, the name can cause a bit of a
stumbling block. The biggest question I get asked is, ‘Is there beer in
your ice cream?’ The answer is no: I wouldn’t make anything my
five-year-old couldn’t have.”

While Yuengling’s Ice Cream and the
brewery (D.G. Yuengling & Son) operate independently, they share
more than a brand name and logo: the Yuengling family values run strong.
If that’s any indicator of future success, David Yuengling may have a
cool future indeed. This summer, why not serve some Yuengling lager and
Yuengling ice cream at your next family BBQ?

~ Denise Blasevick, @AdvertGirl & CEO, The S3 Agency

Note: This article originally appeared in my Examiner.com column. Please follow me there too!


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