Take Note: Walmart’s Limited-Edition Ice Cream Drop Feels Like A Trend


Forbes | March 21,2022


Walmart has scored an exclusive deal on seven new flavors of ice cream from Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, including Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. The flavors will rotate at 3,500 U.S. locations over a 10-week period.


In July 2021, Kraft partnered with Brooklyn-based Van Leeuwen to produce an ice cream version of its signature Macaroni & Cheese. The limited-edition variant led to loud objections from ice cream purists across social media, but the 6,000 pints sold out online within an hour.


The macaroni flavor returned in August in another limited-run, but the Walmart collaboration marks the first time the flavor is reaching stores. The other six ice cream flavors coming to Walmart over the 10-week run are Planet Earth, Pizza, Hot Honey, Royal Wedding Cake, Bourbon Cherries Jubilee and Wild Blueberry Shortcake. This is the first exclusive rotation that Van Leeuwen is bringing to Walmart stores. It has plans to refresh the flavors later in the summer.


“’Limited edition’ as a strategic weapon and as a marketing tool is one of the most powerful assets available to a brand or retailer,” wrote Mr. Sward, principal. “It’s also one of the most under-utilized. Limited edition is a powerful incentive to buy now and buy at full price. I am continually amazed that it is not used more often by more brands and retailers.”


Ryan Mathews, CEO of Black Monk Consulting, pointed out that in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) arena there is some precedent for offbeat ice-cream success. “Ben & Jerry’s has made several fortunes on limited availability ice creams,” wrote Mr. Mathews. “So Walmart and Van Leeuwen’s partnership isn’t exactly blazing new ground in the category — unless you consider marketing flavors and form factors that probably shouldn’t be combined in the first place new ground. Will it work? Why not, it has for decades now.” For others, the strategy opens new potential avenues for both brands and customers to explore.


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