Why Seventeen Ice Cream, a Hit Product for 40 Years, Continues to Be Loved & The Pain Behind the Creation of New Flavors | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Why Seventeen Ice Cream, a Hit Product for 40 Years, Continues to Be Loved & The Pain Behind the Creation of New Flavors

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Seventeen Ice Cream was created in ’83 with “17 flavors” for “17 year olds”!

Seventeen Ice Cream was born in 1983 with “17 flavors” targeting “17-year-old students. In 1985, the company began installing exclusive vending machines. Many of you may have had it when you were in school. We tried to find out why Seventeen Ice Cream has been loved for nearly 40 years.

The vending machine offers 17 selected varieties (PHOTO: Hidemi Shinoda)

The hidden commitment of the ever-popular “Cookies & Cream

According to Tomomi Inoue of the Marketing Department, Dairy Business Division of Ezaki Glico, “The top three in sales ranking are Cookies & Cream, Colorful Chocolate <Milk>, and Waffle Cone Chocolat.

All are one-of-a-kind flavors that we put a lot of effort into.

Although not included in the ranking, chocolate mint and grape sorbet are popular flavors that have been around since the company’s founding, and it is really hard to say which one is better” (Inoue).

Cookies & Cream is No. 1 in the sales ranking. It has been extremely popular since its debut in 2012.

For example, Cookies & Cream, which ranked first in sales, is made with fresh cream from Hokkaido, with cocoa cookies kneaded in and topped with a subtle salty taste and texture. The perfect balance of saltiness and sweetness has made this flavor popular among men and women of all ages.

At first, the cookies were kneaded into the cream portion, but after some trial and error, we decided to add the cookie topping on top of the ice cream as well. The cookie topping has become even more popular, as it allows the flavor change from the gently salty cookie to the rich vanilla ice cream to be fully enjoyed.

The amount of cookie topping is also a particular consideration. The amount of cookie topping has been carefully adjusted so that it does not spill out when the wrapping is removed.

When you open the lid in the car, if the cookie spills out, you feel a little disappointed, don’t you? We have made the current shape in pursuit of a cookie quantity and size that is easy to eat even when outside.

Even when the wrapping is removed, there is little worry about cookies falling out and staining clothes.

Prototypes are tasted at different times of the day and locations to match the target image.

The process from conception to completion of a new flavor takes 1.5 to 2 years.

First, market research is conducted on customer trends and needs, while taking into account the challenges and balance of the current lineup, and new flavors to be introduced are considered. After that, the company creates a detailed image of the target market, such as when, where, and to whom they want the product to be consumed.

We believe that ice cream eaten outside, such as Seventeen Ice Cream, has the magical power to make an everyday scene a special time.

There are many different scenes, such as eating it with family or friends, or as a reward for oneself, but in order to make that time more fulfilling, a detailed image of the target image is essential.”

The time of day and location are also important in the tasting of prototypes. For example, if the product is designed for business people on their way home from work, they go to a park or other location during their expected return home time and taste the product while they themselves are tired. The company then conducts a series of tastings under similar conditions to those in which the target audience would eat the ice cream, in order to brush up on the taste.

All Seventeen ice cream products (cone type and stick type) are manufactured at Glicopia CHIBA. Visitors can observe the production process by making a reservation in advance.

After a long period of time, the new flavors are finally born, but since the vending machine offers 17 selected flavors, this means the retirement of another flavor at the same time.

“When one flavor is added, one flavor is left out. Not so much in the case of renewal, but it is still sad when it is simply discontinued. We’re proud of all the flavors we’ve worked so hard to perfect.”

The flavors will be replaced at the timing of spring and fall. New flavors join at that timing.

When we see a vending machine with 17 different flavors of ice cream, our hearts are filled with the joy of choosing, and when a new flavor is released, we itch to see what it will taste like. On the other hand, the development team had to choose which flavors to retire.

However, everything has its upsides and downsides. Inoue laughs, “This is the mission and the real pleasure of Seventeen Ice Cream development.”

The new target is “families”, with approximately 20,000 vending machines nationwide!

Seventeen Ice’s vending machines have gradually expanded their locations, and are now installed in various places such as parks, train stations, shopping centers, hot bath facilities, and amusement facilities. The number of vending machines has reached approximately 20,000.

Sales were sluggish during the period of the spread of the new coronavirus, but Kazuhiro Yoshida of the Sales Division says, “We have found a way to revitalize the installation locations to suit new lifestyles.”

Vending machines installed in subway stations (photo by the author)

Sales were sluggish overall as people tended to refrain from going out. We were also restricted in our sales activities, so we reevaluated the requirements for locations where vending machines could be sold. After repeated analysis to determine which locations would continue to sell, we focused on the family segment.

(Mr. Yoshida, same as below) “We targeted “condominiums where families live” as our new target, and the results were just as we had hoped. In addition, there was a byproduct of the publicity generated by social networking posts by residents saying that they had purchased Seventeen Ice Cream in their apartments.

Other new installations include those in school facilities. The educational effect of the vending machines has been well received by students, who are now taking the initiative in preventing the various manners violations that the schools were concerned about.

The installation of the vending machines in schools has also led to the incorporation of new classes to think about the SDGs.

We are actually conducting workshops to come up with ideas for trash cans that are easy to sort, as well as upcycling the plastic sticks generated from the purchase of Seventeen Ice Cream into chopsticks and cups, which are given as graduation souvenirs.

Graduation souvenir cups. The colors and designs were designed by the students.

Now that people are regaining their pre-Corona lifestyles, Mr. Yoshida believes there will be even more opportunities to install vending machines.

Ezaki Glico was founded by Toshikazu Ezaki with the aim of improving people’s physical condition through food products. After its launch as “Glico,” a nutritional snack favored by children, the company has undergone various changes and evolutions, such as making the shape heart-shaped and adding small toys, in accordance with the trends of the times.

After the COVID-19 crisis, the way we spend our time and the places we spend it will continue to change. We, too, would like to continue creating and installing products that match these changes.

■”Glicopia CHIBA” factory tour!

A huge goal mark is located just outside the entrance. It is a popular photo spot.
Before entering the factory, learn about the life of the founder, Toshikazu Ezaki, and how ice cream is made in a short movie.
Now it’s time to go inside the ice cream factory. On this day, two types of Seventeen ice cream were being made.
A yellow machine packs packaged ice cream into boxes one after another.
Beyond the clean room, aging tanks for smoothing out the ice cream batter appear.
In the ice cream filling room, visitors can operate a zoom camera and watch the factory operations on a screen.
After the tour of all the processes, a Papico tasting awaits visitors (for a fee, visitors can also experience making their own ice cream).
The last stop is the Glico store area. Snacks, ice cream, and other food items are available.
Goods that cannot be found in supermarkets or convenience stores make great souvenirs!

Click here for the Seventeen Ice Cream brand website.

  • Interview and text by Motoko Abekawa

    Motoko Abekawa is a freelance writer mainly for the web. She is also involved in the production of books and corporate PR magazines. She does not specialize in any particular field, but covers a wide range of subjects that intrigue her, including history, comedy, health, beauty, travel, gourmet food, and nursing care.

  • PHOTO Hidemi Shinoda

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