一些小卖部会将雪糕包装保留并贴出价格 | 图片来源：小红书用户 Elaine
Ice cream assassin, a term that has become popular this summer, refers to a kind of ice cream that seems mundane but makes consumers feel psychologically stabbed by the high price. It mostly appears in such a scene: consumers randomly walk into a convenience store, grab an ice cream and find that the price is as high as ten or twenty yuan or even more when they check out. Some consumers with low face are also ashamed to put it back in the same place and have no choice but to buy it in pain.
As the temperature rises, so does the popularity of the word. There are more than 10,000 notes on Little Red Book, and officials have created the topic of “ice cream assassin” of the same name, encouraging users to post their encounter with “ice cream assassin.”
According to the statistics of Little Red Book users, the prices of Madiel sandwiched ice cream, German-style Imperial Palace cultural creation series, Yili Xuanhuan series, northeast Daban and daily black ice cream are all close to 20 yuan each, in addition to a large number of products in the price range of 15-20 yuan.
The representative “ice cream assassin” sorted out by Little Red Book users.
The above-mentioned Rosen clerk has really encountered “stabbed” customers, in the face of customer surprise and refund applications, she and colleagues will help operate, “a little more understanding.”
It is insipid but has a price beyond cognition. “Ice Cream Assassin” has triggered many discussions such as whether the brand marketing is excessive and whether the product quality is worthy of the price. Zhong Xuegao, as the first brand to popularize ice cream with more than 15 yuan, has also become a “target of public criticism” to a certain extent.
However, pricing is essentially a market behavior, and the price of a commodity is a decision made by producers and channels after integrating costs and profits and balancing supply and demand. If we look back on the emergence of “ice cream assassin” with such low-level logic, the business considerations behind it are even more noteworthy: why do ice cream assassins appear in convenience stores rather than small supermarkets on their doorstep? Why are there more and more high-priced ice cream in the market? Will there be more ice cream assassins in the future?
We trace the origin of the “ice cream assassin” from the convenience store and ice cream to these two factors.
Where are the prices of ice cream in convenience stores?
In the discussion about “ice cream assassin”, the lack of conspicuous price tag is one of its “trough points”. Where is the price tag for ice cream in the convenience store?
The answer is on the glass of the freezer. The freezer in a convenience store usually has doors that open to both sides, and the seams or sides of the doors are affixed to the price. Rosen and his family’s ice cream price tags are printed with pictures and prices of ice cream, and related promotions will also be posted above the freezer or door.
The price tag for ice cream on the freezer at Rosen convenience store. | & nbsp; shooting: singing
The price tag on the freezer at the family convenience store. | | shoot: singing |
A family clerk said that once a new ice cream product is available, they will add a new price tag on the freezer, and anything on sale can be found. If the ice cream is no longer on sale, the price tag will be removed.
But indeed, compared with the drinks in the freezer, whose price tag is right in front of the corresponding item, the price of ice cream is a little inconspicuous, you need to bend over, bow your head, and find the one you want in the dense price tag. In some convenience stores, the background color of the price tag is made transparent, which makes it more difficult to identify. And a sweaty consumer who wants to cool down by eating an ice cream is likely to be less patient to distinguish carefully.
As to why the price of ice cream is posted here and presented in this way, several convenience stores have not given an official answer. The randomly interviewed convenience store clerk gave a message: there are usually only 18 grids in the freezer, mixed with more than 30 kinds of ice cream, and sometimes multiple ice creams are installed in one grid, and because of the randomness of consumers’ behavior, it is not guaranteed that they are always in the same place, which makes it difficult to correspond with the price tags affixed to the grid.
In the freezer in the convenience store, different ice creams are often mixed in the same grid.
Cold drinks always have neat “layout”, and it is natural for the price to be clearly marked. In the past two years, there have been more drinks with a unit price of more than 10 yuan, but it is easy for consumers to make price filtering decisions according to the price tag. The process was delayed until checkout when buying ice cream.
In fact, in addition to large supermarkets that mainly sell boxed and home-packed ice cream, the prices of ice cream in most supermarkets– ordinary chains, small supermarkets in front of their homes, Stores, and “cigarette paper shops”– have to ask the boss to know. Do you remember how to mark the price of ice cream at the snack bar when you were a kid? Some bosses will keep the outer package of ice cream and paste it on the wall with a watercolor pen to write down the price. There are small pudding, green mood, crisp, Yili bitter coffee.
Some commissary will keep the ice cream package and post the price | Photo Source: Elaine, a user of Little Red Book.
After the hot discussion on the topic of “ice cream assassin” on the Internet, some media published an article saying that in the near future, the General Administration of Market Supervision will take down the “ice cream assassin” and so on. The “clearly marked pricing and prohibition of price fraud” mentioned in the report was actually released in April 2022 and came into effect on July 1, and is not just for ice cream categories. The document points out that “clearly marked prices should be true and accurate, label alignment and eye-catching markings according to the characteristics of goods and services, industries and regions” is applicable to all commodities. And exactly how to calculate “clearly marked”, there may be a lot of room for “further standardization”.
Why do convenience stores like to sell “expensive” ice cream?
It has something to do with the location of the convenience store. The main customers of convenience stores are young consumers in their twenties and thirties, who have a passion for novelty hunting. Convenience stores introduce new and eye-catching new products, which has always been a marketing road.
In summer, cold drinks and ice cream are undoubtedly the mainstream items in convenience stores, and they are also the most critical categories to boost sales. In reviewing the past life of “Ice Cream Assassin”, the popularity of “Coconut Ash”, which costs 9 yuan in 2018, is also inevitable, and it has even led KFC and McDonald’s to launch similar ice cream products one after another. Relying on social platforms such as Xiaohongshu, Coconut Ash gained enough popularity at that time and brought passenger flow to the convenience stores that sold them.
Although this first generation of ice cream “Internet celebrities” has only been popular for one summer, it has left a path that can be replicated in the market: in the face of ice cream, consumers seem to be willing to spend a little more money to experience a product with topic and some new experience. And this was once in line with the environment of the evolution of consumer goods. In the past two years, with high-speed iteration and strong topic, the new consumer brand has cultivated a clocking-in consumption habit among young customers who seem to be able to clock in at a slight cost. Appearance, taste, form, a product may detonate the network with one of the points, thus driving sales. In this atmosphere, convenience stores also began to prefer high-frequency up-to-date, as far as possible to capture potential “tipping point” goods.
In order to make more room for new products in the freezer, Rosen convenience store told YiMagazine that it had abolished the traditional mode of admission fee last year and adopted the new product 6-week examination system, and if the digestibility of the new product reached less than 60% in 6 weeks, the product would face elimination, which could also give some excellent minority brands a chance to compete and try on the Rosen platform.
But the flip side of the story is that a large number of new brands have led consumers to have little concept of price in the face of these unknown new brands. In consumer psychology, there is a concept called “price anchor”, which is the benchmark that consumers use to compare commodity prices. Take ice cream as an example, the regular products of Yili and Mengniu are usually 3-4 yuan, and the price of “lovely more” is about 5 yuan. The upper limit of psychological expectation for the price of ice cream may be a dream dragon of about 10 yuan per unit. After Zhong Xuegao became popular, the price ceiling was pushed up to 15 yuan, but in the minds of most consumers, this may only be Zhong Xuegao’s “case”.
Consumers may expect a higher price for a new product that looks good in convenience stores, but the acceptable price ceiling varies from person to person and product to product. Therefore, when the price of a new brand that has never been seen before exceeds the “price anchor point”, consumers who only want to use a slightly better ice cream to quench their thirst will easily feel “stabbed”.
Don’t forget that in order to create a brand image, Menglong has invested a lot of publicity resources to tell consumers that it is a product that allows adults to “open a happy moment”. Even so, many consumers still feel that its price is slightly higher. Today, many ice cream assassins in convenience stores have gone up to a price of more than ten or twenty yuan or even higher without even saying hello. “Haagen-Dazs consumption scene and crowd perception is catering, but the assassin is in the convenience store, the ‘crowd mind’ is the northeast board. In an online discussion about the ‘ice cream assassin’, one reply said.
Of course, consumers’ minds and market judgments are sometimes misplaced. Sometimes, the successful attempts of some brands will be pursued as a new trend. Specific to the category of ice cream, the high price tide brought by some brands has indeed affected the trend of the whole market. Most notably, in the conspicuous position of the freezer, some of the traditional ice cream brands familiar to people around 5 yuan, such as Yili, Mengniu, Guangming, and Road Snow, have been squeezed out.
Lu Xianyu, founder of fruit popsicle brand Xianyu, remembers that when he and his team negotiated with the convenience store with fruit popsicles of about 15 yuan in 2019, it was “easier than expected.”
“just in time for a change in convenience stores, there will certainly be regular brands of several giants in the freezer, but there will also be room for innovative products.” Lu Xin said.
The difference between “fresh fruit and fresh words” and traditional fruit ice cream is that the whole piece or piece of fruit is put into a popsicle and packed in a transparent box. Because the fruit is brightly colored, these ice creams are more likely to be noticed by consumers in the freezer. “appearance is justice, and when young people spend money, they also use it to socialize. Many people will go to the convenience store to buy something as a sign-in behavior. ” Lu invents this way to analyze the product logic of Xianguo Xianyu.
“fresh fruit fresh words” fruit popsicle. | | Image Source: brand official account |
Lu found that when he came into contact with convenience stores and boutique supermarkets in the past two years, he felt that their attitude had become more open, and even said, “if we can make more heat, we can provide more display places.” The interaction between brands and convenience stores no longer stays in the simple purchasing relationship in the past.
At first, “fresh fruit Xianyu” was just a small handmade shop, and the price of a single popsicle was about 10 yuan. Lu Xin, who was still part-time selling popsicles in Chengdu at that time, had already felt the welcome of fruit popsicles in the market, and even if the price was a little higher, many people lined up to buy them. After obtaining the resources of the fruit supply chain through the main business of brand marketing, he invested in the ice cream business.
It’s expensive but easy to sell-“Ice Cream Assassin” actually has its own market. Whether for innovation or repurchase, in the summer window, consumers released for the ice cream assassin at the same time jointly moved the supply-demand curve to the intersection of higher prices.
Why is the price of ice cream getting more and more expensive?
But does the new product have to be expensive? From a cost point of view, this is indeed inevitable in the current product innovation.
Take “fresh fruit and fresh language” as an example, in order to have a good appearance, we have to invest a higher cost of raw materials. Lu said that to put the fruit completely into the “fresh fruit” of the ice cream, it is necessary to select the fruit that is “ripe just right” as the raw material, so the cold chain truck will drive directly into the fruit base, pick and transport it to the upstream factory for processing. Each link has a higher cost than traditional ice cream. At present, the price of strawberry popsicles in Xianguo Xianyu is 15 yuan each, while other products are in the price range of 12 to 14 yuan.
If the fruit is sold separately, farmers often pick it when the fruit medium, so that the fruit that has been transported and stored can have the fullest flesh and bright colors when it comes to the market. According to Lu, medium’s fruit is not suitable for popsicles, the aroma and sweetness have not yet reached the best, and the popsicles they once made from it can not taste the obvious fruit flavor.
This year, the old brand Northeast Daban has jointly launched a 19.9 yuan “nunchaku” ice cream-half of which is classic milk and half of which is dark chocolate mixed with pistachios. Dove Black Crispy Hazelnut Milk Ice Cream, also made of dark chocolate, is also priced at 17.9 yuan.
According to an analysis by a practitioner in the ice cream industry, the price of dark chocolate will be slightly higher than that of ordinary milk chocolate, and brands need to take into account the pricing range of joint brands when co-signing. “the joint name should also make reference to the original customer base and price band to make a reasonable price.” The practitioner said. This time, the daily black Qiao, which is co-signed with Northeast Daban, costs about 29.9 yuan for a box of 60g and 39.9 yuan for Dove 252g bowls.
The northeast big board and the daily black skillful joint name “black thick milk collides the flavor ice cream”. | | Image source: brand official website |
Another rarely mentioned in the discussion of “Ice Cream Assassin” is the difficulty of producing alien ice cream. Zhong Xuegao’s tile shape, the Imperial Palace shape of Wenchuang ice cream and the shape of cherry blossoms and fish tails all belong to the category of abnormal shapes, and their production is more difficult, the traditional production line is very difficult to mass production, and the production efficiency is relatively low. In short, production is limited, costs cannot be offset by scale, and prices have to be maintained at a relatively higher level.
Will there be more and more “ice cream assassins”?
The “ice cream assassin” fermentation, there is also a hidden consumer sentiment: prices are rising, and the rise is too exaggerated.
As an entrepreneur in the ice cream industry, Lu believes that this has something to do with the mentality of “consumption degradation” in the epidemic environment-consumers do not dare to spend money before, even if it is just to taste fresh and occasionally consume higher-priced products. A survey of urban depositors in the first quarter of 2022 released by the people’s Bank of China in March showed that 54.7% of residents were more likely to “save more”, an increase of 2.9 percentage points over the previous quarter. On the contrary, the number of residents who prefer to “spend more” fell by 1.0 percentage points compared with the previous quarter.
But Lu is still optimistic about the ice cream industry, and he thinks there is still a lot of room for the ice cream industry to be subdivided and run out of new brands.
From the joint names of “Northeast Daban” and “Daily Black Qiao”, we can also find some ideas for brand development. At first, the mainstream channel of Dongbei Daban was a separate freezer in front of a small store; four or five years ago, it began the layout of convenience stores and online channels; today, it is clearly aimed at younger consumers. The whole family also gave the northeast board more “noodles”: if you score a certain point on the App of the whole family, you can buy this new product at half price.
“the market, consumers and channels are changing, and the brand must change along with it.” The above ice cream industry practitioners said. Of course, the process of change inevitably requires higher costs-new products cannot dilute R & D, procurement, supply chain and channel costs like brands that have accumulated over the years.
In recent years, a popular saying in the new consumer field is “all categories are worth doing again.” But is it only in the form of “high price” to re-brand and polish products? The wind of “consumer upgrading”, which has been blowing for several years, may counter some brands that only upgrade and do not pay attention to the products. To be realistic, do you still remember what was the popular Internet celebrity ice cream in the summer of the last two years?
In fact, the diversity of customer groups convenience stores can not only rely on high-priced products to survive, convenience stores also have a variety of ice cream around 5 yuan. Rosen also mentioned in the interview that the current ice cream category is strengthening water ice products with low unit prices. Whether it is the channel or the brand, in the face of the consumer market, are trying to use a variety of ways to maintain their competitive advantage for a longer time.