What is in this article?:
- Cinnabon president outlines growth strategy
- Branching out and looking ahead
Kat Cole details the company’s three-part approach, which includes new franchise locations, packaged goods and product licensing.
Kat Cole, president of Cinnabon Inc.
Cinnabon Inc. president Kat Cole’s vision for the quick-service baked-goods chain goes far beyond the cinnamon rolls it is known for.
“We’re building the world’s greatest brand,” she told Nation’s Restaurant News.
Cole is taking a three-pronged approach to growth that entails opening new franchise locations, selling consumer packaged goods, and licensing Cinnabon products to other restaurants. She recently discussed the strategy with NRN.
Not many restaurant chains do foodservice licensing. Is that what Cinnabon does with Burger King?
We’re doing Cinnabon Minibons — the little 320-calorie one — with Burger King. It’s actually the second Cinnabon-branded product that Burger King has ever carried. They had a Cinnabon cheesecake many, many years ago.
If another restaurant wanted to sell your cinnamon rolls, would they have to brand them as Cinnabon?
Cinnamon rolls are obviously something that’s very close to the core, [so they’d have to be branded as Cinnabon]. But we’re not typically developing cinnamon rolls. We make doughnuts for Taco Bell. We make a churro-like product for another restaurant chain.
Would they brand it as a Cinnabon churro?
They might. That has to do with a lot of things. It has to do with whether or not we have exclusivities that sit in that space. It has to do with whether or not we want the [Cinnabon] brand in that partner’s restaurant. It has to do with whether or not they want a brand in their restaurant, or if they want to try over time to build credibility [with desserts].
So in some cases you would act as a traditional supplier.
Right now they are typically either in co-packing relationships — where there’s another manufacturer, and we bring the entire recipe, the entire intellectual property, but they do the packaging and the distribution — or licensing partnerships. In the future we may look at more [joint-venture] manufacturing type relationships.
Why do restaurants co-brand with Cinnabon?
Restaurant concepts like Burger King, like Taco Bell, they want a brand that can give them even more credibility in a segment that it would probably take them a while to build credibility in. So, for example, if Taco Bell or Burger King were to come to you and say, ‘We’re launching one of the world’s most delicious desserts,’ you would think, ‘No you’re not.’ But if they said ‘We’re partnering with Cinnabon to do that,’ now you go, ‘O.K. I get it.’
What do you make for Taco Bell?
It’s a doughnut hole with frosting inside. It’s called a Cinnabon Delight, coated in our signature Cinnabon cinnamon.
Describe your strategy for growing Cinnabon.
The strategy for becoming one of the world’s greatest food brands is a three-part strategy. [Part of it] is continuing to grow the franchise business globally and using that as the driver for [brand] equity, because that’s what people know. It’s what they love. It’s where they get their memory of the aroma.
Then there’s leveraging the brand to develop products in the packaged goods space. And we’ve got now 72 products in consumer packaged goods.
What are they?
There’s a core three or four that are the biggies. There’s the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. Every single can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls is made with Cinnabon cinnamon. Kellogg’s has their Kellogg’s Cinnabon cereal that we’ve had for many years. With White Wave — the company you know as International Delight — we have a Cinnabon creamer that is now our third or fourth largest partnership, and we have announced that by November we are launching Cinnabon cinnamon roll K-Cups with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters.