Ice cream war between Unilever and Nestle

I bought three flavors of Magnum ice-cream bar last week as soon as I found there was a promotional discount for Magnum in Ralphs near my home. Positioned itself as premium ice-cream bar, Magnum is as delicious as Haagen-Daz, and in my home country Magnum is more accessible to local grocery stores and supermarkets than Haagen-Daz, which is mostly seen in high-end and even luxurious shops. This kind of familiarity motivated me to buy Magnum more often than Haagen-Daz, and made me take a look at Magnum’s history in US.

        Magnum was just imported into US in March by it’s parent company, Unilever, the large conglomerate who owns Klondike, Ben & Jerry’s, Cornetto, and other brands. Since them Magnum has made outstanding performance. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Americans has now consumed more than 100 million Magnum bars. However, Unilever still cannot overtake US’s ice-cream leader, Nestle, who owns brands such as Häagen-Dazs and Dreyer’s.

Who is Magnum’s biggest competitor? To my surprise, it’s not Haagen-Daz, it’s Skinny Cow (though their ice-cream bar businesses are all owned by Nestle ). It’s a low-fat brand and a Skinny Cow Fudge Bar usually contains 100 calories and 1 gram of fat, while Magnum’s flavors like Double Caramel and Mochaccino, has 240 calories and 16 grams of fat. However the fact that Skinny Cow has gone downhill since 2010 shows that after a tendency of pursuing diet food, more people has come back to care about the taste itself. “The focus on the diet brands had dragged the market down.” According to an a market research analyst, Chris Brockman.

I also find the future of Magnum in US very promising according to some online comments. The blogger from Netherlands felt thrilled when he found out Magnum finally entered US after missing this brand for such a long time. Since US is an immigrant country, there are people all over the world. Magnum has expanded into more than 50 countries before it entered US, I believe that lot’s of people who are familiar with Magnum before will feel as excited as me or as the blogger from Netherlands:

Another reason I feel confident about Magnum is, American people’s eating habits of ice-cream has shifted from half gallons and pints to European style’s cones and sticks. As an international brand originally made in Denmark, Magnum could fit such shift and  continue to threaten Nestle’s market share. What’s more, Magnum also invented a mini- bar product line (smaller bars with 150 calories), in order to cater to some people’s need of keeping diet.

Boyle, M.(2012, August 23), Unilever Wants to Be America’s Ice Cream King. Retrieved from

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5 Responses to Ice cream war between Unilever and Nestle

  1. dkennard says:

    I feel like Nestle has been such a dominant force in America for so long, do you think it is actually possible for Magnum to take over their market and if so how much.

    Personally, I love and trust Dreyer’s ice cream and could not picture myself going to another brand. Until now I have never even heard of Magnum ice cream myself so do you know of anymore marketing campaigns the company plans to do in the States to increase awareness of the Magnum brand in America?

    • fduan says:

      Personally, I also love Dreyer’s ice cream. It has good quality and it’s not expensive. Magnum is quite different. In US, it’s not the major competitor of Dreyer’s, but actually the competitor of ice-cream bar of Haagen-Daz.
      I also agree that Magnum needs to do something to raise awareness among American people who have never heard of that before. Right now, it has done some cross promotion with fashion business in US:
      Trying to make an impression of a luxurious ice-cream brand, Magnum needs some time to make it more popular among mainstream audience.

  2. limthong says:

    This is very interesting! I never knew that Magnum ice cream is new in American since growing up in Thailand, Magnum is unavoidable! I literally grew up seeing Magnum everywhere. Like fduan said, Magnum can be found in any local grocery stores.

    What is interesting about Magnum in Thailand is the fact that the past months, the brand tried transforming their brand position from normal consumers product to premium ice-cream bar. Magnum claims they used premium quality Belgian chocolate. They have hosted events (Link 1), inviting celebrities and promoting the ice-cream through multiple social network sites.
    Link 1:

    Event invitation were sent to celebrities as beautifully designed necklace made by Magnum’s premium Belgian chocolate (Link 2). Which most of them shared, tweeted or posted about on their social network sites followed by many Thai followers. The news about Magnum’s event spread very quickly among the Thai cosmopolitan and the brand got a lot of attention.
    Link 2:

    They also have a competition where anyone can design their own Magnum. The links below shows an example of some Magnum design. Magnum bars are customised by writing their guest’s name on the bar (Link 3). This reminds me a lot of Russian fabergé eggs which implies that Magnum is no longer an ordinary ice-cream bar, but it became an accessories or an expression of style (Link 4).
    Link 3:
    Link 4:

    Later, Magnum Gold was introduced as a limited edition (Link 5).
    Link 5:


  3. limthong says:

    Oh one last point, in Thailand’s case, I think Magnum is the new competitor to Haagen-Daz since the latter brand have always concurred the high end market. It would be very interesting to observe Haagen-Daz and Magnum’s market share in the future.

    • fduan says:

      Hey limthong, I agree with you. The case of Magnum in Thailand is very similar to what I saw in China. I guess it’s the similar eating habits between China and Thailand. To some extent, the eating habits for ice-cream in Asia is kind of similar to that in Europe, since people tend to have small sizes rather than Drayer’s half gallons and pints sizes, which are not popular in China.
      It is very interesting to see such a luxurious Magnum in the picture links! I’ve seen this in China and I think Magnum is doing a better job positioning itself toward high-end market in Thailand than in China. Look forward to the future of Magnum in US:)