Dippin’ Dots, LLC, the leading maker of flash-frozen beaded ice cream and frozen treats, posted double-digit growth in 2016, led by the company’s focus on account development and retention, strong franchising sales and expanded distribution to entertainment venues and third-party retail outlets.
Total sales of the privately held company’s core ice cream products increased 13 percent in 2016. Dippin’ Dots expects continued strong demand for the current fiscal year, with sales increasing through Q1.
“Our focus on key market segments, combined with dedicated execution of our strategic plan, powered the continued robust growth in 2016,” says Scott Fischer, Dippin’ Dots CEO. “Since being acquired by Fischer Enterprises LLC in late 2012, Dippin’ Dots has recorded four straight years of growth in sales of core ice cream products, with growth ranging from 13 to 25 percent each year."
Developing close partnerships with key corporate customers is one reason for the company’s continued robust growth. In 2016, Dippin’ Dots expanded its partnership with Chuck E. Cheese, the family-friendly destination for food, fun and play. Dippin’ Dots created a custom flavor available exclusively at Chuck E. Cheese locations, and its frozen treats are now available at 540 Chuck E. Cheese restaurants nationwide.
Dippin’ Dots prides itself on customer service and long-term relationship building with clients, which shows in its account retention rate of more than 98 percent. In 2016, Premier Parks’ theme and water parks renewed its Dippin’ Dots contract for an additional three years. Dippin’ Dots has become a staple theme park treat across the nation, with sales in amusement parks increasing 48 percent in the last five years.
“We develop true partnerships with our customers and provide them unparalleled account service,” says Jim Faust, Dippin’ Dots key account manager. “Customers stick with us year after year because we get to know them and their business in depth so that we can jointly work to create customized programs tailored to their needs.”
In addition to retaining and expanding sales at current accounts, Dippin’ Dots has added 3,092 new points of presence since 2015, which helped increase non-franchised sales by more than 32 percent over the same period. One of those accounts was the iconic Philadelphia Zoo, which closed a three-year agreement with Dippin’ Dots in 2016. Now available at more than 80 zoos across the country, zoo sales increased 21 percent from 2013 to 2014, 25 percent from 2014 to 2015 and an additional 20 percent from 2015 to 2016.
“The Dippin’ Dots brand is based on fun, so we are a natural fit for family entertainment destinations,” says Adam Gross, Dippin’ Dots senior sales director. “Families know and expect to find our kiosks at zoos, amusement parks and stadiums throughout the country, and no outing is complete without a cup of Dippin’ Dots to cap it off.”
Sales gains are also being driven by growth in co-branded stores. Dippin’ Dots and its sister brand Doc Popcorn, the world's largest franchisor of fresh-popped popcorn, have 17 co-branded locations currently operating in the U.S. As a result of the “sweet and savory” success of these locations, Dippin’ Dots and Doc Popcorn expect to double the number of locations and open 10 to 15 new co-branded locations in 2017 including: Ontario, California; Indianapolis, Indiana.; McAllen, Texas; Chicago Ridge, Illinois; Cary, North Carolina; and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Dippin’ Dots ice cream treats are available in more retail locations then ever as the company expands into non-traditional outlets like convenience stores. Dippin’ Dots grew its convenience store customers by 30 percent over the last two years. Annual revenues for this segment have increased by double digits each of the past five years, and retail distribution is currently the fastest growing part of the Dippin’ Dots business.
Franchise sales remain a powerful engine for Dippin’ Dots sales. The company’s total number of franchises has grown from 107 to 121 since 2014. Year-over-year franchising revenue grew by 14.75 percent in 2016.
“Our franchisees remain an important part of Dippin’ Dots’ success,” says Steve Rothenstein, senior director of franchising at Dippin’ Dots Franchising LLC. “We partner with them to make sure they have the knowledge and tools they need for their business to succeed.”
To commemorate National Ice Cream Day in July, Dippin’ Dots teamed up with American recording artist and record producer Dawin Polanco to create “Dessert,” a Dippin’ Dots remix of his original hit song that scored over 126 million views on YouTube and hit several top 100 singles charts around the globe.
Product innovation continued with the development of a new flavor, Brownie Batter, which was launched for the summer 2017 season. The Dippin’ Dots product team examined taste trends and consumer feedback as part of the development of the decadent new flavor.
“Brownie Batter has been exceptionally well received by customers across multiple channels as well as our franchisees,” says Michael Barrette, vice president of marketing and sales. “We anticipate strong demand for this exciting new flavor this summer season and expect it will become a customer favorite for years to come.”