A bowl of ice cream is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Unfortunately, ice cream is also far from health good. ½ cup of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia weighs in a 240 calories, with 23 grams of sugar. Since most of us don’t eat just ½ cup at a time, you’re looking at around 400 calories or more. Justin Woolverton, creator of Halo Top, changed the game in 2011. How did his low-sugar, high-protein ice cream become America’s best-selling ice cream pint, surpassing both Ben and Jerry’s and Haagen-Dazs?
The birth of a brand
Justin Woolverton worked as a lawyer in Los Angeles, but he hated his job. He went into law inspired by John Grisham novels, but the real world is hardly that exciting. One day, Justin saw a pop-up ad for a $20 ice cream maker, and decided to try making his own. He’s very sensitive to sugar, becoming sweaty and shaky when he ate too much, so it made sense to make his own frozen treats. He choose all-natural ingredients high in protein and low in sugar, and discovered he had a talent. It was so good, he realized he wanted to start a business.
With $350,000 in debt, Justin used his good credit to fund his ice cream start-up. In 2012, after cold-calling grocery stores, the first Halo Top pints hit shelves at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Erewhon. Justin also faced issues with the ice cream itself, as the high-protein content caused the ice cream to thicken too much. He headed to the Dairy Innovation Institute, which helped him get the perfect ratio of milk, cream, eggs and no-calorie sweeteners. As the brand grew, Justin added Doug and Ryan Bouton. Ryan worked on the brand’s social media, and it turned out to be the most valuable task he could do.
Halo Top take social media by storm
Halo Top’s most unique business strategy is the use of social media. Instead of buying TV or radio ads, Halo Top uses Facebook ads to target potential customers. The business also doesn’t use any outside ad or media agencies. All the marketing is done in-house, which has lead to the creation of a unique and genuine voice. The people responded, and Halo Top’s social media following continues to grow shockingly-fast.
The fans even assist in picking new flavors, which now includes dairy-free, vegan options.
What makes Halo Top sell?
More than brand voice or social media, however, the real reason Halo Top sells so well is its formula. An entire pint of Halo Top can be as as little as 240 calories, and only goes as high as 360. All flavors offer 12 grams of protein, which is the same amount in 1 cup of a good yogurt. Fans even discovered that you could eat nothing but Halo Top all day, and meet your protein goals (but not other nutritional recommendations) with out overdosing on sugar. Does it taste good, though? The fans say yes. In 2016, 17 million pints sold. On the Inc. list of fastest-growing companies in 2017, Halo Top was at #5.
Other brands have noticed. Ben and Jerry’s, once America’s favorite pint, just announced “Moo-phoria” light ice cream, with ½ cup-servings hitting 140-150 calories with 15 grams of sugar. Will B & J’s reclaim its spot? We’ll have to wait and see.
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