Planet Smoothie’s R&D Department Keeps the Product Pipeline Active
From innovative flavor combinations to healthy ingredients and add-ins, the Planet Smoothie test kitchen is always on the lookout for something new
Every Planet Smoothie franchise has a menu board full of sweet offerings that customers love. At the corporate test kitchen, each of those is thoroughly tested before it is ready for prime time.
Heading up the sweet side of things is Morgan Osborne, Research and Development Manager and nutritionist for Planet Smoothie. She teams up with a chef who handles the savory offerings, and so touches on most every aspect of ideation and development for the brand.
“We are set up here to test things, but not in an abstract way,” she says. “It looks like a Planet Smoothie franchise that you would see anywhere in the country. All we’re missing is a POS system and actual customers. That way, we can make sure that what we create can be easily duplicated at every location easily.”
From drawing board to customer container
Even though Morgan is not in daily contact with the Planet Smoothie franchise teams, she’s not working in isolation. Idea sessions with selected franchise owners in the field generate concepts that are then road-tested in her creative setup.
“That has worked well, and moving forward we are going to survey the entire franchise market so we can get as many ideas as possible, and then create those flavors,” she says. “From there, we’ll have a larger pool to work with. We also are setting up a franchise advisory board so that we always have a group on tap to try the new creations.”
The goal, she explains, is to consistently have more products in development, so that menus can be updated and expanded more frequently and easily.
More categories and better promotions
The test kitchen and overall R&D efforts at Planet Smoothie tie into a promotion schedule that is meant to drive new and repeat business into every Planet Smoothie franchise. That means working up new recipes around new ingredients or flavor combinations, as well as tweaking old favorites.
“When our marketing team comes up with a new category or strategy, we will start working on some different directions we can go in,” Morgan explains. “We look at what we have and what will fit. Sometimes that means bringing back a smoothie that’s been off the menu for a while, because we believe the public wants to see it again.”
That’s where the new advisory board will play a role, she says.
“Everyone will have been sending in their ideas, and then this group will sit down with those and look at whether they’ll work in the actual Planet Smoothie franchise locations,” Morgan says. “That means not just looking at a popular flavor, but at what we’ll have do to get it into distribution. Not everything can make it to the store, even if it tastes good, because it’s just not feasible. But with more involvement from all the franchise teams, we’re going to be able to take their ideas and create recipes that they will love having in their stores.”