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Retail Trends

Recipe for Success

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Slow economic times? Not according to Covington, La.-based Smoothie King. The company announced recently that it has signed some 50 new franchise agreements since the first of the year, twice the number of new agreements signed in 2012. Smoothie King plans 100 total new store openings this year.

Wan Kim, Smoothie King’s global CEO, attributes this change to 20 months of consecutive positive same-store sales, which he says is opening up new and existing markets for development. Kim’s vision for the future includes 1,000 new franchised and corporate locations in the next five years. Fifty new stores are planned in South Korea and 10 in Singapore in 2013; the company currently has more than 600 locations in 32 states, the Caymans, Singapore and the Republic of Korea.

“Our smoothies are very different from other brands,” he says. “Our brand has a lot of nutrition. We are the first brand on the market to offer this. We are heading in a different direction than other brands.”

Incentive programs
Smoothie King has been around for more than 40 years, since founder Steve Kuhnau created the original nutritional blended beverage, according to the company’s website. Wan Kim discovered Smoothie King in 2001 while attending the University of California at Irvine. He opened stores in Korea when he returned home; in 2012, Kim’s own company purchased Smoothie King from Kuhnau. With the purchase, Kim hired marketing personnel to build the brand.

The smoothie maker celebrated its 40th anniversary with an incentive program to entice franchisees. The program features 40 percent off the franchise fee — a savings of $10,000 — for the first 40 agreements signed in 2013. Multi-unit franchisees receive incentives from the company as well.

The Smoothie King concoction includes fruits, nutrients and proteins. Consumers can personalize their smoothie nutrition — opting for functional smoothies to stay healthy, lose weight, gain energy, gain weight and muscle … or just indulge, if they so desire. All are available in a wide range of flavors. “Kids Kups,” with 100 percent of the recommended dietary allowance of vitamins and minerals for children, are also available.

Smoothie King offers “enhancers” that the company says provide health benefits, including bone and joint health, pre-workout, probiotic, antioxidant, caffeine charge and more.

Half the customers who buy a Smoothie King beverage are purchasing the smoothie as a meal replacement, Kim says, quoting company research. “It is no longer just a snack. Our smoothies have protein and complex carbohydrates — good fat. Customers can get all their nutrition in one drink and have a healthy meal in their cars.”

Sticking to the mission
The recipe for Smoothie King’s success is based on “making the world healthier, helping franchisees make money and feel good about the business,” Kim says. All products are aligned with this brand mission; stores and the website also sell vitamins and supplements under the company name.

Smoothie King’s future includes a new store design and logo before the end of 2013, as well as forays into the south. Kim is targeting Texas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi for future franchise growth. “Every decision we make is related to protecting the brand,” he says.

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