Kristen Hartman, president of Cinnabon, says one of the guiding principles of the nearly 35-year-old brand’s innovation strategy is this: “Good day or bad, consumers give themselves permission to treat themselves.”

Additionally, the brand tries to innovate its snacks along the lines of the bite-size format and portability. Such efforts have resulted in popular menu items like BonBites, bite-size versions of the classic cinnamon roll, and the highly anticipated chocolate version, ChocoBonBites. “Guests are looking for unique, craveable items and experiences they can’t get at home,” Hartman says.

And to ensure perfect execution at Cinnabon’s bakery locations, the brand turns to the perspectives of the entire team during the innovation process. “From in-bakery product execution to how it’s displayed in our bakery case and how our team members interact with the product and our guests, we have a lot of boxes to check before a product hits the bakery in order to make sure the craveability and experience delivers on guest expectations,” Hartman says.

All the components must be in place in order to roll out menu items, like Churro Swirls or Cold Brew Iced Coffee, that guests love and will come back for.

Menu Innovations, Story