Smoothie King's New Bowls Brought A Bigtime Boost In Sales

As the world's largest smoothie chain, Smoothie King has already shown a keen eye for industry trends. Smoothie bowls are having a moment, and Smoothie King has cashed in. On April 4, the chain launched a line of smoothie bowls, with great success. It's a pretty natural step. Smoothie King's sales have been rising since the pandemic, with a 16.5% increase during 2021. However, until recently, smoothie bowls were an untapped market for the brand, and one that its target demographic — consumers between the ages of 18 to 40 — seem to enjoy.

The popularity of smoothie bowls has increased by 133% over the past few years. Smoothie bowls are essentially smoothies, but meant to be eaten with a spoon rather than sipped through a straw. They're thicker and typically topped with whole ingredients like fruit, nuts, and granola. Smoothie bowls are often made with acai, a staple throughout South America — and particularly Brazil, where acai bowls originated as a breakfast food. According to Healthline, the small, nutrient-rich berries are chock full of antioxidants, healthy fats, and vitamins. However, their purported health benefits haven't been extensively studied, and the acai industry is rife with child labor.

Sales are booming, though: Just six weeks after the product launched, the chain announced that it had sold its millionth bowl. In the second quarter of 2023, Smoothie King announced an 11% increase in same-store sales, crediting the new line of smoothie bowls for the boost.

Smoothie King's smoothie bowl strategy

The chain hopes that customers will find smoothie bowls topped with whole fruit and granola more filling than its standard fare. Smoothie King product development scientist Amanda Daily told Forbes, "When you're chewing your food, you eat more slowly and digest your food more slowly so it's more sustaining." Her claims are backed by a 2018 study published in the journal Nutrients that found that whole fruit is more filling than smoothies.

In addition to acai, Smoothie King's new line also features a pitaya, or dragon fruit, base. Each base comes with three variations, like the PB Swizzle, an acai bowl topped with bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and peanut butter, and the pitaya Bee Berry Sting, which features honey, strawberries, blueberries, and mango. According to the brand's website, the bowls are made with "wholesome ingredients such as whole, non-GMO fruits and contain no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives." However, LiveStrong notes that smoothies can contain more calories, sugar, and even sodium than you'd expect. it's important to check the nutritional information yourself.

Daily added, "Overnight, we're going to become the largest smoothie bowl chain in the nation." She was right: Smoothie King is now America's biggest smoothie bowl destination.