Industry News | July 21, 2009

Krystal Bucks Coffee Trend, Rolls Out Energy Drink

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As the quick-service industry continues to delve deeper into the coffee beverage trend, one chain is releasing a caffeinated beverage that is less java and more jolt.

Today Krystal released the industry’s first branded energy drink, the Krystal Blitz, and rolled it out at all Krystal restaurants systemwide.

“One of things we noticed last year was one of the few categories within beverages that seemed to be having some growth was energy drinks,” says Brad Wahl, vice president of marketing for the Krystal Company.

“We certainly were intrigued by it, which got us to think a little bit further and do some further investigation and recognize that the heavy user of energy drinks happens to fit very well with our heavy user, that younger 16-to-24-year-old demographic.”

Wahl says that upon some initial consumer research, Krystal was surprised by how many consumers were interested in not just a quick-serve offering energy drinks, but selling its own branded energy drink. “We are a unique brand and [consumers] like the idea of not just us selling it to them in a can, but us coming up with our own product,” Wahl says.

Krystal developed the Blitz with Monin, a beverage flavor company that worked on previous Krystal drinks. The Blitz is a blend of natural ingredients and enhancements, including pure cane sugar, Taurine, Guarana, Green Tea Extract, caffeine, Sprite, and Monin flavoring. It is offered on the rocks or frozen (like a slushie), and does not require any additional equipment in Krystal stores to produce.

Wahl says the Blitz, which will eventually include more flavors and might be seasonal depending on sales, did not even need a test market because initial consumer research came back so positive.

“It comes back to, what do the customers want from us? Consumer research at this point has told us that we’ve got a better possibility of success with this energy drink right now than we did if trying to roll out another coffee option like McDonald’s and everyone else that’s out there right now,” Wahl says.

“I would say we won’t be the only ones this time next year that have an energy drink available in our outlet,” he says. “We really feel like it’s going to be a tremendous success.”

Both varieties are sold in 20-ounce cups. The on the rocks Krystal Blitz is available for $1.99, and the frozen Blitz retails for $2.49.

By Sam Oches