Ben & Jerry's Website Analysis Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

Product/Services/Promotional Strategies Offered by Ben & Jerry's

Ben & Jerry's Web site is an almost perfect reflection of the company as the consumer popularly views it: high quality but 'down home,' clever, humanistic, ecologically minded, and service-oriented. Few people have not heard at least some part of the Ben & Jerry story -- how two friends put together their savings and started a little ice cream shop in a converted gas station; a sort of commercial swords into ploughshares tale.

The Web site opens with a top banner reminiscent of Blue Mountain Arts, containing simple animation of simple shapes. In this case, it is snowflakes falling on a cow that licks and ice cream cone. (One assumes that sun shines in summer, leaves fall in autumn and so on.)

Right below that, a product shot tells the consumer immediately that this is organic ice cream, appealing to the 'greens.' It mentions next that it is good for you, that 'your body will thank you. It mentions, too, that it tastes good, appealing to the 'foodies.' And then it invites praise, asking for 'love letters.' This is all calculated to engage a consumer further; one can assume that a consumer looking up a Ben & Jerry's Web site was already pretty well hooked. But a little invitation to interaction never hurts, especially when it's clever.

Next, Ben & Jerry's attempts to satisfy the curiosity of this upscale consumer, by offering a virtual factory tour of the place where "Vermont's Finest" is made. This is both good marketing, and good service. Ben & Jerry's target market, by virtue of the price of the product alone, is an upscale consumer, one might assume well-educated or at least curious, who would like to see how ice cream is commercially made, but also be assured that it is everything Ben & Jerry's says it is, and that it really is premium, fresh, ecological and all the rest of the 'earthy-crunchy' and food aficionado buzzwords.

So far, Ben & Jerry's has entertained the customer (the cute animated banner), promoted the product to the customer (the product shot and the tag lines) and educated the customer. Next, Ben & Jerry's sells the customer. The third column in the simple layout features another product shot, for a less familiar product, a 'Wich, or Ben & Jerry's version of the venerable ice cream sandwich. With that, there is an invitation and a link to proceed further, as there was with the factory tour. Clicking the link reveals what exactly the 'Wich is made of ... And the amazing fact that they are available at downscale 7-Elevens. Or is that downscale? One can assume that Ben & Jerry's fans, who are used to taking pints home, will be thrilled to be able to stop, 'Wich up, get back in the car, turn on the cell phone, and drive happily to their next high-powered appointment munching an actual delicious 'good for you' ice cream treat rather than the foam core and cardboard slabs they are used to if they must have an ice cream fix during road warrior hours. This seems a brilliant strategy, on every level. And not to be missed is one element on the left-side menu on this screen: Flavor graveyard.

There are dozens of dead flavors, flavors no one ever heard of in products no one ever heard of. Example: New York Super Fudge Chunk® Original Ice Cream Peace Pops™. Oh, no. Many of the dead flavors sound great. And Ben & Jerry's has cleverly provided a way to request their resurrection. And they've also provided a haunted house game to play.

Back to the home page, and the final column is Ben & * Jerry's Schoolhouse, their version of FAQs. Clever, complete, and again with an invitation. But that's not all; the top banner has below it some clever buttons, including, naturally, a Gift Shop button. And here, there is something really unbelievable that really says this is upscale ice cream for well-heeled people; customers can order six pints of Ben & Jerry's to be mailed to themselves or as a gift. The cost? A mere $54.94, but it includes the dry ice and a gift card! The cheaper alternative, offered, is to print out gift coupons and use them or mail them as gifts. Other gifts range from clothing to mugs; there's a 'toothpick holder' that looks just like a shot glass to me.

Ben & Jerry's has defined its market as upscale, educated, 'green,' engaged in their world, in search of the unique, and willing to spend money for any or all of those reasons. The site lacks a traditionally corporate look; a talented high school junior who lives in dairy country could have designed it. All in all, this site is perfectly suited to its target market, and very likely works extremely well ... considering that this sort of site is usually meant to be more informational than interactive as, unlike downloadable software or ebooks, one more or less has to go to the store to buy ....until the ice cream by mail.

My Own Web Page

Unprincipled Sleazeballs, Inc.

In the 1983 movie, The Big Chill, there is a line in which a main character mentions that he doesn't want to become an "unprincipled sleazeball." And yet, unprincipled sleazeballs are useful to have around. Politics, for example, is full of them. While people can't hire a politician for every little situation requiring the presence and/or actions of an unprincipled sleazeball, one could conceivably hire actors and actresses to play the part of unprincipled sleazeballs when you are in need of one. When would a person need one? For instance, when taking your car in for repairs; only really big men and other mechanics can be assured of getting proper service at auto repair shops. But an unprincipled sleazeball could certainly make a more lasting impression on the mechanic supervisor than, say, a soccer mom. This business is a referral business for actors and actresses ready, willing and able to play the part of "unprincipled sleazeball" for non-actors who need someone to get down and dirty with anyone from the auto mechanic to the next door neighbor whose dog barks all night. So it is a service to actors, who are chronically unemployed, as well as to the unsuspecting public that has been had more than once by sleazeballs in positions of authority or service.

The Web site will be designed to appeal to an upper-middle-class audience, those least likely to behave like sleazeballs in public because it was schooled out of them at Choate or Miss Chapin's school, and yet who really need sleazeballs to negotiate an increasingly 'dumbed down' world.

The Web site will open with a home page that features a soccer mom groveling before a garage mechanic who has overcharged her and under-repaired the Mom Van; a half dozen ten-year-old girls cry in the background. And the term Yo! is both flashed on the screen and heard on the audio. At this point, the screen morphs into a screen with the soccer mom driving happily away and the Unprincipled Sleazeball actor staring down the mechanic supervisor.

The third screen is an invitation to preview the sorts of situations in which one would hire an unprincipled sleazeball: negotiating with a contractor, taking the car to the mechanic, making an arrangement to pay off your back taxes to the IRS, sending a singing birthday card to the boss who fired you to hire his nephew last summer and so on.

Pages would carry taglines to appeal to the customer's desire to solve their 'wimp' problem:

"If you've ever wished you could say four-letter words without guilt, dress like an organized crime boss or moll, get instant satisfaction without lifting…

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