- General Mills has launched the first ever on-demand, geo-targeted ice cream delivery app, Häagen-Dazs NOW, reported Food Navigator.
- The technology enables Häagen-Dazs to be delivered to a customer’s exact location, even if they aren’t standing still. It also allows customers to track the status of their deliveries in real time.
- General Mills ran a one-day trial last Friday in Russell Square, London. Samuel Horner, senior brand manager at Häagen-Dazs UK, told Food Navigator, “Depending on how this goes, we will evaluate how it could fit into our future consumer engagement plans in the UK and beyond.”
Direct-to-consumer delivery isn't a new concept — prepared food delivery apps like Seamless and Grubhub, Domino’s address-less pizza delivery, and a new coffee drone delivery concept are already popular. But Häagen-Dazs' app brings real-time visibility between delivery driver and customer to the food delivery space, even when the customer is moving. This technology, which seems to operate like Uber for ice cream, could be a powerful differentiator for the General Mills brand.
Outside of Amazon NOW, single-item grocery delivery isn't very common or popular. But Häagen-Dazs' innovation is the latest answer to consumers' insatiable demand for convenience, and could signal new opportunities in food delivery.
With online grocery sales expected to capture 20% of the market, or more than $100 billion by 2025 according to a report from the Food Marketing Institute and Nielsen, food and beverage manufacturers slow to adapt to e-commerce risk losing market share to rivals and upstarts. After this move, it's clear General Mills doesn't plan to be left behind.
The application that was tested last Friday in London operated through Facebook Messenger, where consumers could place their order through a chat-bot conversation. Then, web-based geolocation APIs pinpointed the exact location of the order through real-time data syncing. All the while, the packaged ice cream order was being prepared in a temperature-controlled delivery van in the area before a Häagen-Dazs team member delivers it to to the customer's location, where they pay upon receiving their order.
Although the idea seems to be in line with a growing demand for instant grocery delivery, the response on social media was tepid. Nevertheless, it could be attributed to the short duration of the trial and its hyper-selective location. Alternatively, Häagen-Dazs may have to consider the viability of its delivery method, since offering direct delivery to people when they’re moving about is not necessarily practical in all situations. The concept would be successful at a festival or a park where everyone is confined to a single space, but if someone ordered an ice cream before hopping in their car, the results might look like a high-speed chase.
Still, with the demand for better and more personal customer experience rising, brands are going to need to create unique direct-to-consumer models that aren't difficult to scale or expensive to fulfill in order to get ahead.