Here’s A Consumer Packaged Goods Story You Don’t See Everyday

MilkMade Ice Cream is a craft ice cream maker in New York City that sells its product by subscription. Despite the high price of the subscription–about $17 for a hand delivered pint–the company has a waiting list of 1500 subscribers, according to Today.

But let’s go back to 2009 and the company’s beginning to hear from Diana Hardeman, one of the company’s founders:

Hardeman–a graduate of NYU’s Stern School of Business–makes most of her deliveries by bike, and rents a Zipcar during bad weather. She texts members when she’s on her way, and they’re often waiting at the door, spoon in hand.

So what is it about MilkMade that creates this kind of intense demand? Is it the fact that a pretty lady brings ice cream to your door? Maybe, but I think there is more at work here. Naturally, there’s the quality of the product to consider, but people with means want something special, something beyond quality, that isn’t available in the store, even a specialty store. The harder something is to find, and acquire, the more we covet it. Sad perhaps, but it’s also a deep part of our conditioning in consumer culture.

In marketing circles we like to talk about “creating brand experiences” and offering a “highly differentiated product or service.” MilkMade provides both in spades. We also talk about finding out “what our customers are hungry for,” be it news, advise or ice cream.

What’s interesting is how intuitive all this sounds in the context of MilkMade. And like so many start ups, there is timing and luck to consider. Right after founding the company, Hardeman and her partner in the venture attended a party in Brooklyn that received coverage in New York Magazine. After this chance press mention, MilkMade received 700 inquiries and the rest is fast becoming artisanal ice cream history.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.