Since coming to market earlier this year, frozen dessert brand My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream has been on a mission to get consumers to chew their ice cream. Almost a year later, the company is not only still embracing that mission but also expanding upon it with new products and strategies to make mochi more accessible to consumers across all snacking occasions.
This week, the company announced the launch of its newest innovation, pints with mochi “bite” inclusions, an ice cream-forward reversal of the brand’s original mochi line of bite-sized ice cream balls wrapped in traditional Japanese sweet rice mochi dough. The pints, which will launch with five flavors, are expected to hit shelves in January.
My/Mo CMO Russell Barnett told NOSH this innovation is an extension of the brand’s commitment to making “playful” and colorful ice cream snacking options. He said he was interested in the idea of a spoonable mochi-infused product, not because of the pint category’s recent growth, but rather due to the category’s opportunity to reach consumers across other dayparts.
The pints will cater to the brand’s already loyal consumer base, in addition to reaching new customers, Barnett said.
“We see people buying mochi ice cream, and we see people buying traditional pints of ice cream because it is a different feel for them. So, for us, we find that they will still continue to be complementary,” Barnett said. “What you find in the pint category in particular is that people are willing to really try something that looks interesting that they might not have experience with. A lot of pints are very flavor-forward in this, but because the idea of exploration is already ingrained in the pint category, we felt comfortable taking that traditional mochi texture and adding it to ice cream.”
Pints are not the company’s only innovation. Mochi typically contains both dairy and gluten, which has made My /Mo inaccessible to some consumers. To better accommodate those customers, Barnett said the company has discovered a new way to keep the mochi from sticking that does not use flour. By January, all products will be gluten-free.
Non-dairy lovers will also have a mochi option. Barnett said the company will launch four non-dairy mochi flavors using cashew milk in Q1.
Aside from R&D developments, My/Mo is also focusing on its innovative self-serve mochi bars. My/Mo first launched earlier this year as the mochi supplier for Whole Foods Market’s unbranded self-serve mochi bars before launching its own branded coolers.
“Before, there were a lot of retailers that kind of sat on the sidelines, waiting to see if this mochi ice cream thing that launched this year was actually a thing,” Barnett said. “Folks are really leaning into that experience of the mochi bars in their bakery or prepared food sections. It’s helping to drive that exploration around the combination of mochi and ice cream.”
Coolers have been key to the company’s marketing strategy, which focuses on “experiential” campaigns and reaching millennials through digital channels. Barnett attributed part of the bars’ success to creating “Instagram-able” moments.
“For us, our main interaction is always going to be through digital connection,” he said. “What we want to do is create these great moments of inspiration in the real world and make themselves to the digital domain.”
My/Mo’s rapid growth may seem counterintuitive; frozen novelty as a category has struggled as of late. However, according to data from market research firm IRI Worldwide provided by My/Mo, the frozen novelty category is flat, growing only 0.4 percent in dollar sales, while the mochi sub-category grew 143.9 percent compared to yearly average growth. And according to that same data, My/Mo is ranked 29 out of 235 frozen novelty brands based on U.S. dollar sales for the 12-week period ending October 8.
“Novelty has been challenged,” Barnett said. “It’s been traditionally very occasion specific and very much around the idea of treat. And the reason why innovation and the frozen novelty category is leaning toward My/Mo Mochi ice cream is it’s snack-ability. It just happens to be this great bit of treat on top of it.”