Industry News | July 19, 2013 | QSR Exclusive Brief

Need a Boost? Smoothie King Has a Natural Fit

Caffeine-packed energy drinks may get their fair share of flak, but today’s on-the-go consumers continue to seek a quick and tasty pick-me-up. And with its new Pure Recharge Smoothie, beverage brand Smoothie King thinks it has the solution—without all of the artificial ingredients common in many energy drinks.

Tom O’Keefe, COO and president of the brand, says the idea of a “clean” energy smoothie “was more in alignment with our brand and our business.”

He says there’s also a growing demand for this type of product on the market, which has helped the chain gain positive feedback from guests since the smoothie’s launch at the beginning of the month.

“This is a product that there is certainly a strong market for, and now I think there’s even a larger subset than may have been originally thought for the pure energy aspect of it, rather than the synthetic piece of it,” O’Keefe says. “So I think that we are correct in identifying that that is the way to go with this drink.”

The Pure Recharge Smoothie not only features green coffee bean and whole coffee berry (the fruit that surrounds traditional coffee beans), but it also feature vitamin B12 and gingko biloba, giving guests a naturally caffeinated option—or as Smoothie King calls it, “real energy for real people.”

O’Keefe says the brand has two target customers in mind for the Pure Recharge Smoothie: “balance-seeking moms” and active male earners—or, in general, just people on the go.

“It could be people that either are, like myself, an existing coffee drinker that wishes to convert. It could be folks that already are consumers of energy drinks but are looking for something that’s maybe more attractive from a health and nutritional perspective,” he says. “And then, of course, beyond the existing guest base, we want to try to appeal to new folks, so we think that coming up with this type of product … is a great alternative.”

O’Keefe says the Pure Energy Smoothie already makes up 2 percent of the brand’s product mix and has cracked customers’ top 20 smoothies.

The smoothie is available in two flavors, Strawberry and Mango Strawberry, and a 20-ounce version features less than 260 calories. Including both antioxidants and raspberry ketones, the Pure Recharge Smoothie is designed to enhance focus and promote healthy weight management.

In celebration of the new beverage option, Smoothie King is making its first foray into the world of Instagram, asking guests to share everyday moments when they need an energy recharge. Fans can upload their photos to the social site (or the brand’s Facebook page) using the hashtag #NeedaRecharge.

Each week during the campaign—which began July 10 and runs through August 7—five fans will be selected to receive a $100 Smoothie King gift card. At the conclusion of the contest, one fan will win the “ultimate recharge”: a $1,000 prepaid credit card to help create a special getaway.

“It’s an outreach through a social campaign where we want people to be recognized for their basic daily activities that have been now enhanced because of the product and their enjoyment of the product,” O’Keefe says.

The brand is also spreading the work through a direct mailer that goes out on July 29, which will offer a 20-ounce Pure Recharge Smoothie for $1.99. In addition, point-of-purchase materials will be used in the stores.

By Mary Avant