Two varieties of quiche launched last week at Caribou Coffee were designed to not only continue the coffeehouse brand’s expansion into food-focused dayparts but also to meet demand for lower-calorie items, the chain’s top marketer said.
A Ham & Cheddar Quiche and a Spinach & Swiss Quiche are permanent additions to the Minneapolis-based chain’s menu, which over the past few years has expanded far beyond beverages to allow for sales growth, said Alfredo Martel, senior vice president of marketing and product management.
The quiche is designed to be a “tweener” product between Caribou’s breakfast sandwiches and bakery items, Martel said.
“It’s a plated offering that works as a sit-down meal, but we portioned it in a size and shape that, if you’re so inclined to eat it with your hand, you could,” he said. “It brings in more ham and protein options, and the spinach one has a really good vegetable to round out a complete breakfast offering.”
Food platforms like grilled cheese sandwiches and breakfast sandwiches that have rolled out the past two years have been an important part of increasing Caribou’s average unit volumes, he noted. According to data from Nation’s Restaurant News’ Top 200 report, Caribou’s estimated sales per unit grew 4.5 percent and 2.2 percent in fiscal 2011 and 2012, respectively.
In the initial trial period, Caribou expects “a little self-generated cannibalization” from other baked sandwiches as it samples the quiche products, he added, but the brand is confident it will achieve a long-term balance.
“The journey starts with sampling to create trial, but we believe it will give customers another option for breakfast, ergo another reason for an additional visit,” Martel said. “Contrary to a biscuit, sausage and egg sandwich, quiche plays as an any- or every-daypart option for us, so we have two more SKUs for every period of the day.”
The quiche also fulfills a need for lower-calorie food offerings, he noted. With fewer than 350 calories per serving, the item could appeal to customers wanting a lighter snack while also providing Caribou with more healthful items to tout when menu-labeling mandates take effect.
“Part of the design of the platform was to be more calorically in tune while still bringing in things that have the quality and ingredient notes we try to hit on,” Martel said. “This leads us into other innovations in lunch coming down the pike. It really responds to that nice inside-out need for things that taste great but also allow people to manage their diets and portion sizes.”
When the nationwide menu-labeling mandate arrives, Caribou will try to encourage sales of its Lite Sparkling Teas and Juices, which are engineered to have 50 percent fewer calories its existing beverage line and which complement the new quiche flavors, Martel said.
“We are killing it with the apple-raspberry flavor; it’s been a runaway success,” he said. “We’re putting pressure on the supply chain team to find more of the product. They pair up great in summer with quiche and also have an interesting caloric story.”
In April, Caribou announced the closure of 80 underperforming locations and the rebranding of another 88 units to Peet’s Coffee & Tea, a sibling brand also owned by German holding firm Joh. A. Benckiser Group. When completed, the restructuring will leave Caribou with a system of 468 locations across eight states and 10 international markets.