What's up with frozen yogurt?

Sep 26, 2010

It's almost become a clichè to say, "Everywhere I go, another frozen yogurt place has popped up." Yet it's rooted in truth--the frozen yogurt phenomenon has swept far and wide, and it's become especially popular. I was wondering why this was--why frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, why the self-serve method, and how will this "fro yo" phenomenon influence local economies?

Juicy Berry, Red Mango, Spoon Me, Top It--everyone has their favorite. After visiting a few of these businesses, I noticed a few things that struck me as odd, especially for a business. Most of all was the limited flavor selection. Spoon Me offers three flavors: green tea, natural, or acai (an odd berry flavor). However, Juicy Berry offers up to sixteen flavors, which rotate weekly. Obviously, it costs less to manufacture only three flavors as opposed to sixteen, but in a highly competitive market, wouldn’t a business strive to appeal to as many customers as possible? But when it comes down to flavor choice, it’s really a matter of preference. While I prefer the plain yogurt flavor, some prefer sweeter flavors such as coffee, raspberry, etc., which some would argue isn’t really yogurt, but it’s still vastly different than ice cream and gelato, thus making this resurgent cultural interest in frozen yogurt even more fascinating.

I also thought the concept of market saturation. Alisa Bonsignore writes,

“I just hope that some of the individual owners will take a step back, look at things objectively and ask themselves if a town of 60,000 residents could really sustain that many similar businesses, even in the boom years.”

How does one distinguish one frozen yogurt shop from another? On what does a customer base their decision to choose one frozen yogurt dispensary over another, and how does that affect the business which isn’t chosen? I’ve always wondered how all of these frozen yogurt shops hold up, especially in this economic climate, where consumers appear to be less willing to spend money on seemingly frivolous things like frozen yogurt. But the numbers are surprising. According to QSR Magazine, frozen yogurt sales increased by 33.4% in 2008.

I concluded, based on my own experience, that people will always like dessert, and people will always like dessert that they know is good for them. Low in caloric content and high in calcium and good enzymes, frozen yogurt seems like an obvious obsession for our health food-oriented society.