Smoothie King CEO Wan Kim details how the brand is outpacing industry growth projections.
As the owner and CEO of Smoothie King, I’ve built a strategy that is focused on inspiring people to live a healthy and active lifestyle. I believe that our brand and others in the category can help people eat and drink better and live healthier lives.
Additionally, we know that smoothie sales are continuing to increase throughout the category and the global smoothie market is expected to reach $10.9 billion by 2028 with a projected Compound Annual Growth Rate of 8.4% during the forecast period. This increase showcases that we can expect smoothie sales to continue to build and this is not just a fad! The industry is only getting started.
As the world’s largest smoothie brand, we know we need to do our part to build demand. We are proud to say we’re outpacing industry projections, having achieved a 13% CAGR over the last decade. How does Smoothie King stay ahead? Well, I’m here to tell you, so let’s dig into it!
Authentic menu innovation
I’ve learned so much from my father. He’s been faced with many challenges in his life, but he always taught me to try and make the world a better place and to never give up on that goal. That translates greatly to what I’ve tried to achieve with Smoothie King.
Our journey to become the leader in the smoothie industry began with a menu overhaul in 2016. We made it our mission to listen to what consumers are demanding. Change is never easy because there is comfort in consistency. However, it’s important to remember that while it can be challenging, change is necessary, and when done for the right reasons can make a big impact. With that said, we had our work cut out for us and faced a lot of challenges.
|Smoothie King CEO Wan Kim|
As we overhauled our menu, our goal was to let existing guests know that Smoothie King was committed to providing them with the same high-quality, delicious smoothies, but with healthier ingredients, and we sought to attract new guests who could rely on Smoothie King without sacrificing their health commitments. I saw this as an excellent opportunity to transform the brand into a true health-conscious concept, aligning with a healthier, active lifestyle!
I’m a firm believer that everyone is on their very own health and wellness journey and that’s exactly what I wanted to mirror for the brand — creating options that fit every type of lifestyle. Whether our guests are searching for an on-the-go option to supplement a workout, to manage weight goals, for meal replacements and more, we want to be there for them. Our team has also remained committed to our clean blends promise: Blending a more nutritious smoothie from the bottom of the cup, up. This means using only whole fruits and organic vegetables, so our smoothies boast nutrition and flavor without any of the ingredients on our No-No List, including high-fructose corn syrup, gluten, GMOs or hydrogenated oils, and keep it clean with 0 grams of added sugar in our Slim, Fitness and Wellness blends to keep our guests personal wellness goals on track.
At Smoothie King, we believe in the importance to be completely transparent about ingredients that we found unacceptable to include in our products to stay true to our mission and vision. Authenticity is so important, and a guest can immediately tell when a brand isn’t authentically connecting a menu to its mission and vision. That stayed consistent when we launched our Smoothie Bowls in April. We sold more than 2 million bowls in just 12 weeks, and it helped us achieve an 11% increase in same-store sales year-over-year at the end of Q2 2023. If you stay true to who you are and ensure your offerings match that expectation, then you’ll build equity with your guests and they’ll show loyalty to your brands.
Franchisees’ passion translates to success
When I began leading Smoothie King and looked to evolve the brand, not every franchisee was initially on board.
Like I mentioned, I learned a lot from my father as it pertains to making the world a better place and never giving up on my goal. This was another moment where I was faced with challenges but saw the opportunity to help our franchisees and our guests. I knew I had to educate our franchisees and began having conversations with each operator on how our brand and menu evolution would help their locations.
After those discussions, a majority of our franchisees were excited and understood the direction. They were passionate advocates for living a healthy lifestyle, and some even actively pursued other ways to impact people through health, wellness and fitness. Franchisors can’t be successful without franchisees buying in and helping to steer the ship. Their commitment to the brand, their locations, and staff are core components that translate to our success, and likely yours. Our franchisees truly go above and beyond, creating internal community outreach programs for youth sports, first responders and more. They are the foundation of our brand.
To build a successful franchise system, you must have franchisees who are naturally committed to the brand mission and vision. If it doesn’t, then that franchisee is likely not right for your brand. More than half of our signed development agreements last year were with existing franchisees and that’s continued in 2023. Passionate franchisees are committed to building successful locations and bring a level of energy and enthusiasm that is contagious to their customers and employees. I’m so passionate about our brand and the industry and it’s essential that our operators share in that excitement.
Ultimately in this business, people listen to people. When a franchisee is genuinely invested, they go above and beyond to provide a high-quality guest service experience, which increases the likelihood of positive brand and in-store experiences that spread via word-of-mouth within their community.
If you’re a business leader looking to grow and outpace projections, always remember to listen. Listen to your guests, listen to your franchisees and most importantly, listen to yourself. Every interaction will help you make informed decisions to drive your business forward.