Serve only when chilled

Häagen-Dazs has changed its café format to give customers a more decadent environment, where they can relax and appreciate the whole experience.

Contrary to popular belief, the name Häagen-Dazs has no meaning behind it. The Scandinavian-sounding title was created in the US during the 1960s, at a time when Americans saw European goods as luxury items.

Today, however, indulgence is at the core of the worldwide premium brand’s philosophy, as the ice cream giant aims to generate a retail environment as luxurious as the product itself.

Established in 1961, Häagen-Dazs, which is now owned by Diageo, has grown to be one of the leading global ice cream brands, rivalling the likes of Baskin-Robbins and Ben & Jerry’s.

In the 1970s the company launched its first US retail outlet in an effort to extend its reach. This retail side of the business now sees Häagen-Dazs as the ice cream manufacturer with, perhaps, a lead high street presence worldwide. It now has 650 stores, with this figure set to double over the next five years. A first Australian venue in Sydney is planned for the Olympics this September.

Through this aggressive expansion policy the ice cream giant aims to widen its net, giving people the opportunity to indulge themselves in the brand.

A new retail concept designed by interiors specialist Redjacket was officially launched in London and Paris last week. Jones Knowles Ritchie created the in-store branding, including 3D menus, crockery, uniforms and ice cream cabinets.

Central to the brand’s theme of indulgence is the notion of creating “ice cream temples”, according to Nicolas Bouvé, managing director of Häagen-Dazs Cafés for Europe. “The new look Häagen-Dazs cafés are the perfect environment for people to relax, unwind and indulge themselves. They’re also ideal for experimenting with new flavours and serving ideas,” he explains.

Replacing the old chairs and tables are sofas and armchairs, combining natural textures and materials with bold colours to create a comfortable and intimate atmosphere. Cosy wooden booths, which provide a subtle partition between the take-away section and the adjacent restaurant, add to the comfortable and intimate atmosphere.

“We want to enhance the consumer experience according to their experience of having the brand at home; eating Häagen-Dazs while sitting on the sofa, chilling out. This is what we are hoping to bring into the new shops,” adds Bouvé.

Jones Knowles Ritchie director Andy Knowles says the cafés need to “reinforce the brand in an integrated way, by being more consistent with the values of Häagen-Dazs ice cream. They need to be more indulgent and luxurious as an experience. It’s not just about selling ice creams, but about the experience, too. It has to be an environment in which people have spent 15 minutes, although they feel like they’ve spent an hour.”

Knowles explains that the elements designed by JKR, in addition to the interiors, enhance the experience of indulgence that the retailer is aiming to generate. “They add to the sense of occasion and create a more glamorous venue than your average ice cream parlour. There is also quite a broad appeal – the cafés are flexible, catering for different audiences throughout the day.”

Redjacket principal partner Martyn Bullock says: “Our strategic approach demonstrates how interior and brand design can combine successfully to create a new environment.”

As the new generation of cafés will also be serving drinks, cocktails and cakes, they are likely to increasingly rival both the growing bands of coffee shops and bars, with consumers investigating alternative options.

Focus groups and research will identify the strengths and weaknesses of the new formats during the next four months, before a final version is rolled out internationally later this year.

But, on the strength of sales since a soft launch earlier this month, Häagen-Dazs is confident it can exceed its target revenue growth of 15 per cent, in its pursuit of world domination.

Häagen-Dazs Cafés around the globe

UK60

France90

Spain95

Rest of Europe55

US230

Asia170

Middle East20

Latin America20

Total740

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