Monday, August 29, 2011

Pinkberry, Yogurtland​, Yogurtlici​ous, Yogurtini, Cherry on Top, Orange Cup, Red Mango, TCBY, Fresh Berry, Berry Berry

Interestingly, frozen yogurt has made a comeback is all the rage.  New places keep popping up, and I'm starting to get them all confused.  Yogurtland, Yogurtlicious, Yumilicious, Yogurtini. . . and then there's, of course, Pink Berry and Red Mango. . . and Cherry on Top, Orange Cup and Fresh Berry.  Didn't TCBY start it all years and years ago?

I saw the following article in the Wall Street Journal.  Interesting that the average ounces in an order is 14, and average check is $5.46.  14 ounces???  My husband and my yogurt TOGETHER are just a little over 14 oz.  Who are these people that are eating that much?  (I want to say something mean but am going to refrain from doing so.) 

My favorite Yogurtland flavors these days are Double Cookies & Cream, Kona Coffee, and Pistachio.  I always have to get Heath Bar as a topping.  Yogurtland seems to have the best price at about $0.36 per ounce.  However, I feel heathy eating Red Mango's yogurt.  I just had Red Mango this evening (dang it - I forgot to take a photo of the lovely and perfect swirl & cup), and the new mango flavor was delicious.  I recently learned that Red Mango has the BEST probiotics (they partner with the best scientists in the industry) that's much better than Pinkberry's.  There are some other things I learned from a source close to the company but probably shouldn't share, but they're all good things that make me want to support the company and eat their yogurt even more.

By the way, did you know that the frozen yogurt trend all started in South Korea?

Here's the WSJ article:
Yogurt Chains Give Power to the People 

A growing number of frozen-yogurt chains are trying a new strategy to keep business hot in a cool economy: do it yourself.Some new chains—and some of the biggest existing ones—are letting customers portion out their own dessert, add toppings and then pay by the ounce. The idea: Snackers are lured in by the expanded choices the stores offer—and may end up digging deeper than they would otherwise."People are doing things on their own that they wouldn't feel comfortable asking someone behind the counter to do," says Tim Casey, CEO of Mrs. Fields Famous Brands LLC, parent of industry leader TCBY, which is on target to open nearly 100 self-serve stores this year.

With weight-based pricing, the average self-serve ticket is $6.32, compared with $5.61 at a traditional store, says a TCBY spokeswoman.Of the 71 frozen-dessert franchises tracked by research firm FRANdata, at least 17 have self-serve options. All of those chains opened in the past five years. For TCBY, the growth in self-serve is coming as traditional shops shut down. The chain closed 33 stores in 2010, and will shut 11 more this year, says Mr. Casey.Why the new focus? People want the freedom that self-serve brings, he says: "If calories are an issue or budget is an issue, they're in control."Make-your-own also eliminates waiting for employees to handle each order, says Natasha Nelson, co-founder of self-serve chain Yogurtini, of Tempe, Ariz. "The lines are out the door at night, and the lines move quickly," she says.

What's more, Yogurtini shops generally need just two employees to cover a shift, keeping labor costs relatively low, Ms. Nelson says.  Do-it-yourself does have drawbacks. For one thing, it can mean higher start-up costs for franchisees. FRANdata estimates the initial investment at about $277,000 to $521,000, compared with about $234,000 to $482,000 for a full-service shop. A large chunk of that comes from yogurt machines. They can can cost $15,000 apiece, and self-serve shops often offer more flavors than traditional stores.Another major expense is space. With customers moving around the stores to get what they want, self-serve shops need 1,325 to 3,700 square feet, compared with 900 to 1,225 for counter-service models, FRANdata says.Edith Wiseman, FRANdata's vice president of client solutions, says sticker shock may end the trend. Snackers love all the choices, she says. But "humans aren't known for self-control, so after loading up on toppings, the price shocks many consumers."

Ms. Pessin is a writer in New York. She can be reached at