Posts Tagged ‘Ben & Jerry’s’

Building a socially valuable chain of activities at Ben and Jerry’s

November 28, 2009

Wednesday’s presentation from the Ben & Jerry’s founders was certainly a popular event (I guess free icecream trumps the pain for many of us standing for an hour+). They told some fantastic tales of their almost accidental rise to fame and fortune.

The main message of their talk was how a business can be run in a socially responsible fashion. They offered some intriguing examples of (as they put it) “improving the quality of life in our community” without necessarily contradicting the usual modus operandi of business (i.e. pursuing customers with an attractive product).

It was great to see how they had leveraged their existing value chain and capabilities to deliver genuine social benefits.

At the supplier end they discussed their involvement with Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, New York. This bakery offers training and employment opportunities for socially-disadvantaged folks. Rather than just throwing these guys some money to keep up their good work, Ben & Jerry’s designed an ice-cream (Chocolate Fudge Brownie) using the Bakery’s output. They said this now sends around $4m worth of business the bakery’s way each year. See more on this here (including a cool video).

At the distribution end the firm has awarded a number of their retail franchises free to not-for-profits in various locations. Again, these NGOs usually offer training and employment opportunities for at-risk youth. These Partnershops look and feel like the for-profit stores, and the charities presumably seek to make surpluses in just the same fashion, equipped with the processes and expertise transferred to all franchisees.

Both of these approaches embrace the power of the firm’s core competitive advantages (designing, marketing and delivering fancy ice-cream) so as to achieve a financially and socially profitable result. It’s a great model for others to follow and adapt.

Oh, and the free Chunky Monkey Ice-cream tasted great. See a brief snippet from Jerry here.


Come see Ben & Jerry in Melbourne

November 18, 2009

You may recall that a few months back I heralded the arrival of Ben & Jerry’s icecream to our shores. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry's icecreamNext week (on my birthday no less) the founders of said icecream purveyors will be in my building discussing their experiences.

The public lecture is billed as
Doing well by doing good – a seminar about sustainable and community friendly business practices.

Here’s the blurb:

Back in 1978, close friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, armed with a $5 correspondence course in ice cream making, opened their first Scoop Shop in a dilapidated gas station in Burlington, Vermont. Whilst they occasionally disagreed on the size of the chunks going into the ice cream, one thing they did agree on was having fun. As Jerry put it, “ if it’s not fun, why do it?”. They also decided from the start that business has a responsibility to give back to the community in which it operates, a philosophy that is still important to the business today. 30 years on, with a continued focus on sourcing the finest ingredients to create euphoric chunks & swirls, Ben & Jerry’s now operates in over 30 countries, spreading joy for the belly and soul across the globe with a mission to make the best possible ice cream in the nicest possible way, using business as a tool for social and environmental change.

The seminar is open to the public and on 25 November, 12 – 1pm, Level 5, The Spot (198 Berkeley St, Parkville, Victoria).

I’ll be there to report back for all of you blog readers.

Are Aussie retail barriers melting?

August 8, 2009

melted icecream coneOf note this week was an announcement that giant US ice-cream chain Ben & Jerry’s are set to launch in Australia.

As discussed here multiple times, Australia is a massive under-achiever in attracting international retail brands and players.

Our distance from the rest of the developed world (and also between our major cities) place us a long way down the list of new markets retailers target. Furthermore, copycat locals are pretty quick at jumping onto good ideas from elsewhere.

Food tends to be a better populated with multinational brands than fashion, variety and groceries. Franchising is much more practical here (and mimics within country practices at home), which lowers the risk and the need for hands-on knowledge.

ben and jerry ice creamWill Ben & Jerry’s prove successful? Australia is not an under-serviced market with large chains already in place including Wendy’s, Baskin Robbins, New Zealand Natural.

Indeed, Australia is reportedly already the 3rd largest per capita consumer of the sticky stuff.

Might Ben and his buddy be facing the sort of uphill battle that Starbucks faced down under?