An interesting look at the development cycle for Ben & Jerry’s flavors. Spoiler alert, Dill Pickle sorbet never made it to store shelves. Via Fast Company:
It takes 18-24 months for “Flavor Gurus” at Ben & Jerry’s “Flavor Lab” to create a new flavor. In their civilian lives, all the gurus are serious foodies–some are former restaurant chefs, others are chemists–but in the Flavor Lab they’re also required to be futurists, anticipating which ice cream flavors consumers will want two years hence.
STEP 1: BINGING ON INSPIRATION
In an initial conceptualization phase, Flavor Gurus set themselves a daunting task: to draw up a list of about 200 potential new flavors. To do that they consume (sometimes literally) dozens of sources on food trends, researching the latest gustatory innovations that may be market ready, or almost market ready. The team might embark on a “trend trek,” traveling to another city to experience not just its ice cream but its food and drinking culture overall. They’ll visit the newest restaurants and try the latest cocktails, taking field notes and talking things through. Or the Gurus might comb through food blogs and magazines hunting for inspiration.
STEP 2: AN ICE CREAM HUNGER GAMES
The team sends out a short survey to a representative slice of its massive email list of ice cream enthusiasts. The survey is extremely straightforward; it consists of a one-sentence description of each of the 200 flavors, followed by the same two questions apiece:
- How likely are you to buy this flavor?
- How unique is this flavor?