Freshëns, an Atlanta-based frozen yogurt and smoothie concept, embarked this year on the most ambitious strategic initiative in its 25 year history. Working closely with Culinary Edge, a culinary development firm based in San Francisco, and Miller Zell, a retail design firm, Freshëns created a new product innovation and retail experience strategy.

“Our research confirmed that Freshëns has a unique brand characteristic, which is strong equity and credibility in both frozen yogurt and smoothies,” says Aaron Noveshen, founder of the Culinary Edge. “Operators don’t need to make a choice when considering a frozen treats strategy. Freshëns offers a fully integrated smoothie and frozen yogurt program which has the ability to cover multiple dayparts and drive average unit sales.”

Culinary Edge focused on developing authentic, bold, “crave-able” products. Central to the development of the yogurt menu is the introduction of an 18-item toppings bar that, according to Noveshen, energizes the yogurt experience. Fresh fruits, natural nuts and granolas, and splurge toppings like Fruity Pebbles and Cap’n Crunch create flavor profiles that complement both Freshëns “traditional style” creamy yogurt as well as its “new style” tart yogurt, both all-natural, with live active cultures to promote overall health. Customers can purchase up to three toppings for one price, which encourages the selection of different flavor combinations.

The toppings bar was also used as a “palate” to create combinations. “Fro-Yo Blasts” blend Freshëns traditional or tart style yogurt with multiple inclusions to create what Noveshen describes as “an indulgent splurge.” The Peach Cobbler and Cap’n Crunch & Peanut Butter Fro-Yo Blasts use ingredients that are already in store.

Noveshen simplified the smoothie menu into four categories, with a focus on lifestyle and function. The fruit juice smoothie base mix was reformulated to create more intense juice notes and complement the fresh fruit used in each recipe. A priority was to use all natural ingredients and flavorings, and eliminate high fructose corn syrups and trans fats.

Smoothie flavor profiles were diversified and enhanced. The Strawberry Kiwi and Raspberry Passion Fruit smoothies have a distinct tart taste. Tropical Pineapple and Citrus Orange Mango have tropical flavor notes. Mangosteen, a superfruit grown in Southeast Asia, and Yerba Mate, a tea harvested in South America, are key ingredients in two new smoothies that promote “natural energy,” a growing trend for consumers who are seeking a non caffeinated boost. The Chocolate Oreo Protein smoothie delivers 28 grams of protein, ideal for those who seek to build lean muscle mass.

Recognizing that complementary snacks are a natural part of the food offering, Noveshen developed a Custom Granola Station, in which customers choose one of three styles of Natural granola—a yogurt granola parfait, a granola cereal bowl with milk, or a granola snack bag, and customize it with two toppings from the toppings bar. Also available are prepackaged snacks that complement yogurt and smoothie purchases, build check average, and expand daypart sales.

Miller Zell’s philosophy towards Retail Design was the compelling factor in Freshëns selection. “Retail is theater, and should deliver an entertaining experience. But Design is all about understanding the targeted consumer and how purchase decisions are made,” says Paul Pizzini, vice president and director of design at Miller Zell.

Given the premium placed on real estate, Miller Zell worked closely with Culinary Edge and Freshëns to create a design that requires less than 130 square feet. “It’s an extremely small footprint, considering the depth of products that are offered,” Pizzini says.

Miller Zell redesigned Freshëns logo to communicate a fresh, soft, contemporary image, and then translated these visual cues into a compelling retail design.

“The store is a white canvas, simple, sophisticated, and beyond today, with strategically placed focal points that create ‘stop-ability’ and consumer engagement,” Pizzini says. “The customer is immediately attracted to a 10 foot by 5 foot canvas of fresh slices of Strawberry, Kiwi, and Orange on the approaching side wall. This communicates a fresh, natural, and healthy visual cue.”

Approaching the front of the store, guests are attracted to a large LCD monitor positioned strategically in the center of the menu. The monitor displays colorful images representing “Food as Art”—fruits and toppings that cascade from the top to the bottom of the screen, with Freshëns products in the forefront. “It sends ‘brand sparks’ and encourages consumer engagement,” says Rick Barrick, vice president of digital media, a division of Miller Zell.

The 18-item toppings bar and custom granola station is central to the front counter. Menuboards are 75 percent larger than the previous Freshëns design, are equally weighted to yogurt and smoothies, and feature new product photography. The Snack ‘n Go display is strategically positioned to stimulate impulse purchases and is highlighted by a touch-screen monitor that allows customers to easily browse menu nutrition facts and overall wellness tips. “It’s all about creating a personal experience with the consumer,” Barrick says.

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