business news in context, analysis with attitude

Thanks to MNB reader Rich Heiland for passing along this piece by Ken Hoffman in the Houston Chronicle in which he wrote about how H-E-B's private label ice cream brand, Creamy Creations, is effectively competing with the iconic Texas brand Blue Bell.

The point is that H-E-B really took ownership of the own-label brand, spent two years developing a product that was "at parity, or better," and then focused on creating a market for it.

Hoffman writes:

"I talked with Scott McClelland, the nerdy guy with glasses in the TV commercials. He really is the president of H-E-B Houston.

"Creamy Creations ice cream isn't leftovers or a moonlighting job from an established dairy plant. H-E-B has its own ice cream factory in San Antonio.

"'I worked on this project (Creamy Creations) 15 years ago,' he said. 'For two solid years, we ate ice cream every Wednesday afternoon for three hours. And I got paid for it! We refused to launch Creamy Creations until it was at parity, or better, in blind taste tests against Blue Bell … At H-E-B, (owner) Charles Butt's name doesn't go on it until the quality goes in. That's why it took us two years to develop our ice cream. In particular, vanilla was a challenge because Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla has a custardy taste that was hard to match. Blue Bell was the standard for us to meet'."
KC's View:
The key line, from Rich Heiland, is this: "I have not tried the HEB ice cream, but think I will."

Retailers succeed when they have products and services that nobody else has. H-E-B always has been exceptional at doing this … and Creamy Creations is just another superb example.