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Smoothies R’ Us:
Blended Drinks for the Young Consumer

By Jennifer Magid

When a parent is driving the kids around to school, or practice, or lessons, and plans to make a quick stop off for a cup of coffee, a common problem for them is how they can get their caffeine fix while at the same time appeasing their children. The challenge for them has been finding something that is not just a sugar laden, nutritionally empty precursor to hyperactive behavior- they want something good for their kids.

Much to the gratitude of the coffehouse consumer with a child, granita and smoothie beverage selections continue to be viable alternatives that satisfy their desire to give their kids something while at the same time treating themselves. While many companies have yet to latch onto the creation of a product aimed at their target consumer’s kids, there are a number which are taking children into consideration when marketing products, demonstrating this segment of the market is an often overlooked, yet potentially very profitable business opportunity.

A Caffeine Free Option
“Most parents don’t want younger children drinking caffeinated drinks, so the fruit smoothie, granita or hot chocolate are the options available,” says Bill Jahn, president of Granelli, who adds, “adding a child’s size smoothie or granita would be a good option also.”

Granelli offers eight different fresh fruit puree concentrates for making smoothies and granitas, as well as a new kid friendly product, Orange Supreme, which tastes like an old fashioned cremciscle. Instead of following the cheaper option of using artificial ingredients and non-dairy products, the Orange Supreme is packed at a dairy and has real cream, orange juice and vanilla in it.

“If targeting the kids market means bringing in cheaper more artificial type drinks, then I think that would defeat the purpose of what the specialty coffee market is all about,” says Jahn. “The specialty coffee business is about quality coffee first and then all other added products should follow suit with the same high quality taste.”

Karl Lovas, creator of Dr. Smoothie, feels that children are truly the key to the future of coffeehouse businesses. “Consider the facts: children between the ages of 5-14 influence78% of the total grocery purchases,” Lovas says. “This translates to kids directly controlling $10 billion in food and beverage spending; thus propelling this market to $32 billion in sales by 2007 *. Coffeehouses: get up to speed or you’ll miss out!” he said.

Dr. Smoothie’s complete smoothie concentrates feature 100% fruit blends with no preservatives, and the company prides itself on this fact - the company’s flavor combinations include four berry blend, peach-pear-plus, and blueberry banana- sweet treats that a parent can still feel good about giving to their children.

“When it comes to our children, we want them to have only the healthiest products possible. A fruit smoothie is a much healthier alternative to the sugar water commonly used in granita machines today,” he said.

Caffe D’Amore has also chosen to acknowledge the children’s market. The company has included kid friendly drinks in their marketing strategy since the early 1990’s, when they introduced their original two non-coffee mixes, Chocolate Freeze and Vanilla Freeze. “These were first introduced as the ‘Senza’ mixes (Italian ian word meaning without),” says MaryAnn Castaldi of the creative/marketing dept of Caffe D’Amore.

“Certainly one of our goal’s components is to market to young people. We have learned in our 34 years of formulating these type drinks that children represent a huge part of the market that is often ignored,” she said.

The company has also created popular variations of the Vanilla Freeze with fruit juices and with soda, and launched in 2001 the “Sundae In A Cup” menu, which features a beverage that contained no coffee and was garnished and presented to look like a sundae it had whipped cream, nuts and a cherry.

Healthy Kids
One goal the companies all simultaneously expressed was the desire to market a product that is not only good tasting to kids, but also good for them.

“We have begun to detect a new awareness of health considerations with these drinks, particularly ones aimed at children,” said Castaldi. “While our drinks are less sugar driven than most of our competitors (and in a few cases have been criticized for it), there can be no hiding from the fact that everyone’s specialty drinks have a significant amount of sugar. Today, with the public’s growing awareness of the problems caused by too much sugar, everyone is scrambling to create healthier drink profiles,” she said.

The company Gualapack has come in with their own solution to this unique challenge: a 100% crushed fruit juice aimed at the young consumer; called FrooOtie, it was created by the popular U.K. juice and smoothie specialists PJs. The product is a mix of a smoothie and a juice, and has no other added ingredients, which provides an answer to parental concern about sugar content. It’s sold in two flavors, strawberry and orange, with a third flavor in the works.

Also taking kids into consideration is the company Yoguccino, which features nonfat blended ice drinks in different flavor options that are child friendly (as well as healthy for adults); the non powder mix contains live and active yogurt cultures. Besides a fresh fruit mix, the company also promotes recipes such as the “Mocha Monkey” which features real peanut butter, and the kid targeted “Rootbeer Yoguccino.”

Oscar’s, a division of Kerry Foodservice, has targeted the younger consumer with their dairy flavoring syrup, O2. Touting their product as having “extreme flavor that has kid appeal’, the syrups come in flavors such as Cotton Candy Craze, Bubble Gum Blast and Blue Vanilla Thrilla. Despite the sugary sweet names, the flavors are sweetened with Splenda.

Also available to kids are Smoothie King’s “Kids’ Kups” smoothies. Made with all natural ingredients such as grape juice and strawberries, the company aims to target children 12 and under. The cocoa flavored “Kids’ Kups” option features a nutrient mix with 100% daily values for many essential vitamins and minerals.

Many companies are missing a good opportunity if they ignore the children’s market. According to Lovas, only one in ten are offering a kid’s menu. “A socially responsible menu with marketing techniques that strike a balance between kids and parents is a must,” he said.

Making something delicious yet nutritious that satisfies both kids’ and parents’ requirements will continue to grow in popularity as consumers get wiser about the options available to them. Castaldi sums up the general strategy needed to successfully sell a child-friendly option: “If a shop sells drinks directly to kids, they will want them sweet and colorful, if the kids are accompanied by a parent, the parent is going to want to believe that the drink is not excessively unhealthy. It’s a unique marketing challenge,” she said.

* Source: packagefacts.com

For more information:
Dr. Smoothie, 1730 Raymer Avenue, Fullerton CA., 92833. Tel: (714) 449-9787, Fax: (714) 449-9474, Website: www.drsmoothie.com

Caffe D’Amore, 1107 S. Mountain Ave., Monrovia, CA, 91016. Tel: (626) 792-9146, Fax: (626) 932-0152, Website: www.caffedamore.com.

Granelli, 12826 NE 178th St., Suite C, Woodinville, WA, 98072. Tell: (800) 472-6482.

Gualapack SpA, Strada Alessandria Acqui 2A, 15073 Castellazzo Bormida (AL) Italy. Tel: 0039 0131 29381, Fax: 0039 011 293812, E-mail: gualapack@gualapack.it, Website: www.gualapack.com.



Tea & Coffee - March/April, 2004
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