QSR January 2023


FrozenYogurt’s SecondAct Leading brands are evolving to meet a changing customer. B Y C A L L I E E V E R G R E E N

tomize their yogurt with a variety of different toppings like fruit, candy, pretzels, and syr ups—started gaining traction in 2005 when Pinkberry opened its f irst store in West Hol lywood, California, which has grown to about 260 franchises in 20 countries. Though Pink berry touts itself as “the original frozen yogurt that reignited the category,” competitors quickly rose up to vie for a piece of the frozen treat market. Yogurtland was among the first to offer the self-serve frozen yogurt bar with a variety of f lavors available to customers at the pull of a handle. Yogurtland served its first cup of fro yo in 2006 in Fullerton, California, and after 15 years has grown to nearly 300 locations across eight countries. In September, same-store sales were up 27 percent versus 2021, with comp sales up around 30 percent from 2021, according to Yogurt land president Sam Yoon. And 80 percent of stores are outperforming 2019 sales, proving the brand is fully recovered from any pandemic lags, Yoon says. Yogurtland didn’t reach success by acci dent. A purposeful, multi-tiered drive to stay

16 Handles was acquired by its largest franchisee, Neil Hershman (left), and investor Danny Duncan, who boasts nearly 7 million YouTube subscribers.

T rends come and go, but prospective franchisees want to invest their hard-earned dollars in concepts with staying power. Here’s how fro-yo leaders at Yogurtland and 16 Handles are staying relevant. Frozen yogurt shops are the millennial equivalent to the soda fountains that served as social hubs for teenage Baby Boomers. The frozen treat has gone through multiple popularity booms that seem to fizzle out after a few years, but leaders in the segment are reassuring customers—and potential franchise owners—that fro yo is poised for a comeback, and is here to stay. Though the origins of yogurt can be traced back thousands of years to the Middle East and India, the f irst commercial frozen yogurt wasn’t available in the U.S. until the early 1970s. “Frogurt,” as it was initially called, was sold only in scoops like ice cream and was more tart than sweet. Soft-serve frozen yogurt was invented in the 1980s, and quickly gained popularity for being the healthier alternative to sugary ice cream since fro-yo contains digestion friendly probiotics. The modern version of fro-yo shops—where customers cus

relevant has enabled the brand to keep building momentum, Yoon says, plus better-for-you concepts are trending in franchised food and beverage concepts—“contrary to articles in the past that said frozen yogurt is dead,” he says. While many attribute the explosion of health and wellness focused brands to the pandemic spurring people to care more about their health, Yoon predicts better-for-you brands have more room to grow. “This trend will only grow stronger,” he says. “Fro zen yogurt is healthier and contains probiotics that boost immune systems. Our frozen yogurt contains at least 10 million cultures at the time of manufacturing, and our f lavors are developing around plant-based f lavors our guests love, as well as sugar-free options.” A focus and investment on using high-quality ingredients helps differentiate the brand from competitors in the space. An in-house team of “f lavorologists,” as Yoon calls them, ensure customers are receiving the latest global and diverse mix of new f lavors at Yogurtland. The team has a rolling 18-month f lavor development plan, and the innovation process—from ideation to [CONTINUED ON PAGE 48]



JANUARY 2023 | QSR | www.qsrmagazine.com

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