Cold Stone Creamery has some changes on tap as it celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
Dan Beem, president of Cold Stone Creamery, a subsidiary of Kahala Franchising LLC, said the chain is celebrating its anniversary by bringing back some customer favorites, including such signature ice cream flavors as Strawberry Blonde, Peanut Butter Cup Perfection, Oreo Overload, Birthday Cake Remix and Founder’s Favorite.
Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Cold Stone is working with research and development “tastemaster” Ray Karam to create more unique flavors, such as Strawberry Basil.
The concept is known for using a chilled granite slab to customize its ice cream with mix-ins.
The chain, which has more than 1,500 units in 25 nations, is also expanding its reach overseas. It opened its first international unit in 2005 in Tokyo and now has more than 420 international locations, including recent debuts in Nigeria and Turkey.
Beem spoke with Nation’s Restaurant News about the anniversary and plans ahead.
How is Cold Stone celebrating its 25th anniversary?
[For] any brand that can make it to 25, it should be a big deal. We’re definitely with our promotions staying with our core. What we’ve done is stay with featuring five of our famous signature creations that Cold Stone has become known for.
And you’re supporting those promotions via television, print and social media?
About a year ago, when we understood where social media was going, we brought on a team of five individuals to head that up for us. They are doing some creative things, leveraging our Facebook fans and our MyColdStone fans. We have a little more than 4 million MyColdStone fans that are fanatical about the brand. We like to reach out and touch them as often as possible. We get Ray Karam to talk about new flavors.
Are you leveraging technology in other ways?
We rolled out our online ordering component for our cakes just a little over a year ago, and we continue to see week-over-week growth. That tells me our consumers not only want our cakes, but they want our cakes when they want to be able to order them. About 20 percent of our cakes are ordered when the stores are closed. Those are people up late at night, and they take care of it when they have the time. That growth curve in the online cake-ordering program is exciting.
You are also about to test tablet-based loyalty?
We’re testing next month something that I’d like to see go national in 2014. We’ll be able to migrate our 4 million MyColdStone members. They won’t have a card. They’ll be basically able to earn points for purchases in the stores. We’ll have multiple touch points through social media, through email and through texting. That’s going to make a difference for us.
What changes are on tap for the brand?
First and foremost, we have been about innovation. We’re looking to expand our traditional core line with additional flavors, and we’re going to add some additional ‘Hot Stone’ items to the lineup. We’re also going to take a look at our cake line. We relaunched our cake line back in 2004, and we saw tremendous success. We are seeing influences from international communities. The first part of next year, we will revamp our signature cake line and make it a little more elegant.
Are you planning any unit redesigns?
We went through our growth years back in 2003 and 2004. We were founded in 1988 and saw some good organic growth. But we really got into big demand back in the early 2000s. Now the public is looking for a little lighter and a little brighter. We’re going to take it in two steps. We’re designing the Cold Stone Creamery store of the future, meaning what the Cold Stone store is going to look like in 2014 with new ones open.
What about menu extensions?
We are looking to expand Cold Stone into almost a Cold Stone Café line, where you walk in and get the same indulgent ice cream you’ve gotten for years, but we are going to add a digital component to it and a bakery and coffee offering. Ice cream in a lot of parts of the country can be very seasonal, so we think that if we can come up with very indulgent bakery items with a solid coffee program, it’s going to help our franchisees in the colder months.