- Halo Top ice cream has become a cult phenomenon thanks to the company's communications and marketing team, which creates new digital content and responds to hundreds of social media posts about its products every day, according to Bloomberg. The protein-rich ice cream is beloved for its guilt-free indulgence — each pint weighs in at about 300 calories.
- The company claims to have never paid for a social media post, but the #HaloTop hashtag has been used nearly 100,000 times. The company's account has almost 400,000 followers to date.
- In 2016, the Los Angeles-based company saw sales grow 2,500%, selling close to 17 million pints.
Until recently, Halo Top Creamery had never paid for any kind of brand advertising, relying instead on social media and word of mouth to sell its ice cream. And it worked — the company delivered a triple threat of photo-worthy packaging, protein-rich and low calorie ice cream that was practically destined for Instagram fame.
Food manufacturers are aware social media's advertising power, but major brands have been slower to engage with consumers online, and few companies have leveraged Instagram and Twitter to the extent that Halo Top has. The upstart creamery's success should push legacy ice cream companies producing Häagen-Dazs, Edy's or Ben & Jerry's to more heavily invest in their social media teams — this kind of advertising is much less expensive than TV spots or print ads, and can quickly grow a brand's presence if done right.
Social media engagement also gives companies the chance to get to know their consumers, information that is crucial to developing an appropriate brand voice and aesthetic. Regularly posting on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram also keeps brands top of mind and can establish a firm foothold in the marketplace. Halo Top isn't the only low-calorie, protein-based ice cream on the market, but it's social media ubiquity makes it feel like a one-of-a-kind product. This will make it harder for similar companies to break into the space.
The International Dairy Foods Association’s latest survey showed the average U.S. consumer eats 22 pounds of ice cream annually. Halo Top data shows its customers purchase on average seven to eight pints at a time because the company's supply hasn't been able to keep up with demand.
Eventually, this demand could wane, and Halo Top may need to start paying for more traditional advertising or roll out new products to keep its items as popular as they are now. Still, food producers should consider emulating its social media model, and produce packaging, photos and media that is highly shareable.