Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are life-long friends and the cofounders of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Incorporated- a American ice cream company which manufactures ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, and ice cream novelty products. They originally decided to go into the food business making bagels but found that the machines would be too expensive and settled on ice cream instead by taking a $5 course at Pennsylvania State University; an idea that ultimately resulted in a multi-million dollar business. In 2000, Ben and Jerry sold the company to Unilever, but still remain influential in its management. By working closely with many organizations like Businesses for Social Responsibility and the Ben & Jerry Foundation, they continue their goal to ‘make it a businesses’ responsibility to give back to the community and bring values to the corporate world’.
Ben and Jerry’s business became famous because it is not only profitable, but also lead by values. There are 5 top reasons for their success:
1. It is both profitable and socially responsible:
Their milk used in produced it from Vermont cows and so is massively supporting local businesses. Ben and Jerry’s also chose to partner with other ‘values-led’ companies, such as a brownie bakery in NY who employ the homeless and recovering addicts.
2. Following their passion:
Neither of the men had any experience in making ice cream. Instead they took a $5 course at the Pennsylvania State Uni that resulted in their company ran independently by them in the first years and so being exactly how they wanted to run it.
3. Fighting massive corporations:
In 1984, Häagen-Dazs tried to limit the sales of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream by forcing their distributors to stop selling Ben and Jerry’s (if they didn’t, they would lose the rights to distribute Häagen-Dazs). Ben and Jerry knew that they could not afford a legal battle against the massive corporation so instead launched a campaign named ‘What’s The Doughboy Afraid Of?’ The public opinion took their side and the whole campaign ended up benefiting them by giving them nationwide name recognition and preference over Häagen-Dazs.
4. Doing things their own way:
When Ben and Jerry needed money they did not want to involve a venture capital firm so instead residents of Vermont were allowed to be part owners of the company, which meant that the community gained profit as the business profited.
5. Unique ideas to capture market
When Ben and Jerry’s first started selling ice cream out of their storefront in Burlington, VT, they soon realized that, once summer was over, they would have to come up with a new strategy to keep bringing in customers. This resulted in the production of their ice cream in pint-size containers in which to sell to restaurants and stores in the local area. An idea that captured the ice cream food market and became revolutionary.