I’m loving this new website I recently discovered. It’s called QSRWeb.com and their coverage of the quick service restaurant industry is just outstanding. I’m getting so many ideas from just browsing their comprehensive site.
Lately, I’ve been stressing the importance of product innovation and differentiation. To encourage more franchisors to think creatively, I want to shine a spotlight on interesting product launches. Depending on your response, this might even turn into a regular feature.
My ratings are obviously just for fun, nothing scientific here. But I’m encouraged by this week’s selection of new products. I’m optimistic that product launches like these can have a meaningful positive impact on the bottom line of franchisees.
You can read more about these individual product launches by visiting QSRWeb.com.
1. Carl’s Jr.’s Hand-Scooped Oreo Ice Cream Sandwich
- A scoop of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two large Oreo cookie wafers and individually wrapped
- Available throughout the West Coast for the suggested retail price of $1.49
- “Oreo cookie has become almost as popular an ice cream flavor as the big three: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry,” said Brad Haley, chief marketing officer of Carl’s Jr. “So, when we found out that we could get large Oreo Cookie wafers that were perfect for making ice cream sandwiches, we jumped at the idea.”
- Franchise Chatter’s Innovation Meter: 3 out of 5 stars. Nothing too earth shaking about an ice cream sandwich, although the emphasis on quality can make this a winner. And the affordable price makes this treat even more tempting.
2. Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen’s Cajun Style Turkeys
- A turkey, approximately 9 to 11 pounds, infused with a blend of Louisiana seasonings then flash-fried, creating a crispy coating, and finally roasted
- Available through December, or until supplies last
- “With Popeyes’ fried Cajun Style turkeys, we make it fast and easy to enjoy not just an unbeatably moist, delicious turkey but one with the unique Popeyes’ Louisiana flavor our guests love so much. It’s a turkey that’s as memorable as the holiday occasion,” said Dick Lynch, chief marketing officer.
- Franchise Chatter’s Innovation Meter: 5 out of 5 stars. A perfect seasonal offering for a fast food chain known for chicken. Sounds like a delicious alternative to the traditional roasted turkey.
- McCafé Peppermint Mocha is a blend of espresso, dark chocolate syrup, peppermint flavoring and steamed milk, topped with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle. A hot chocolate version (sans the coffee) is also available.
- The drinks are McDonald’s first specialty seasonal beverages on the McCafé menu. They are available now through Jan. 2.
- Both beverages are customizable, and available with a choice of whole or nonfat milk, and with or without the whipped cream topping.
- “Beverages now represent more than 20 percent of sales for McDonald’s USA, so it’s becoming increasingly important to add new and unique beverage options to the McDonald’s menu,” said Marta Fearon, McCafé Marketing Director, McDonald’s USA. “With the introduction of the decadent Peppermint Mocha and Peppermint Hot Chocolate, we are pleased to provide customers with a flavorful taste experience that is perfect for the holiday season.”
- Franchise Chatter’s Innovation Meter: 2 out 5 stars. Peppermint is a classic winter flavor, so no major innovation here. This is a Starbucks’ holiday staple, although no company can really claim peppermint as an exclusive. With that said, I can see this being a hugely popular item this season.
4. Baskin-Robbins’ Winter Chocolate Marshmallow
- A rich hot chocolate-flavored ice cream with a whipped cream ribbon and marshmallow dough
- This is Baskin-Robbins’ November flavor of the month, available nationwide at participating locations.
- “With Baskin-Robbins’ new Winter Chocolate Marshmallow flavor, ice cream enthusiasts can enjoy the month of November with the coolness of summer and the warmth of winter combined in our newest flavor creation,” said Stan Frankenthaler, Dunkin’ Brands executive chef and vice president of Innovation.
- Franchise Chatter’s Innovation Meter: 4 out 5 stars. How is a hot chocolate-flavored ice cream different from the classic chocolate? Hmmm. I guess I’ll have to try this one to find out. This flavor reminds me of Serendipity’s famous Frozen Hot Chocolate Drink, although I’ve never heard this flavor translated into ice cream before.
5. Krispy Kreme’s Glazed Chocolate Pie and Dipped Cake Doughnuts (Packaged Donuts)
- The New Glazed Chocolate Pie features chocolate filling and an Original Glaze topped crust. This is the company’s third pie variety, following the Glazed Cherry and Glazed Apple.
- The new Dipped Cake Doughnuts are fully immersed in Krispy Kreme’s chocolate flavored dip.
- Now in participating grocery stores, convenience stores and mass merchants throughout the U.S.
- Krispy Kreme packaged treats come individually wrapped, in 6-15 count boxes, or in individual snack packs.
- Franchise Chatter’s Innovation Meter: 4 out 5 stars. A pie flavor for a donut is a refreshing twist. I imagine that the soft chocolate filling combined with the hard glaze topped crust would make a nice contrast. This is definitely a must-try. (I’m not too intrigued by the dipped cake doughnuts — sounds pretty ordinary to me, although it could be a hit with chocolate lovers).