Red Mango Pushes Back at Competition With Self-Serve

Starting July 19, the Red Mango on Lovers Lane will convert into a self-service frozen yogurt format. Depending on the outcome of the Lovers Lane location, several other Dallas locations of the frozen yogurt chain may be following suit soon after. If the success of Plano's Shops at Legacy's Red Mango is any indication, look for all signs to point to go on self-serve. The Lovers Lane location will be joining only four other Red Mango locations currently offering the self-service format -- Plano, College Station, Kansas City, and Gainesville, Florida.

The self-proclaimed "Pioneer of all Natural Frozen Yogurt," played a big role in the fro-yo explosion a few years ago. While Red Mango's biggest competitor arguably is the other frozen yogurt giant, Pinkberry, they also have had to contend with several mini-chains and independent shops, specifically of the self-service variety. With the competition being as stiff as it is, Red Mango has long been brainstorming ideas to remain fresh and on top.

In an e-mail, Red Mango's founder Dan Kim wrote that the company's shift can be attributed to their consumers' "preference for greater variety and control." However, this in no way signals that all Red Mangos will be converting en masse overnight. Because of size constraints, certain Dallas locations, specifically McKinney Avenue and NorthPark mall, will remain full-serviced.

All but one of the DFW locations of Red Mango are owned by the same franchisee, Bill Chinn. He is the same person responsible for both the College Station and Plano conversions to self-service and their subsequent success. Understandably, he is hoping to repeat the formula, but he may have some full-service stalwarts with which to contend.

According to some employees (who wish to remain anonymous), they have heard gripes from customers who prefer the skilled hands of an expert for that perfect "swirl." Even Kim admits that there are "the markets who prefer full-service," as he maintains that certain markets will remain so. In the meantime, an employee assures that someone will be on hand at all times to help with any yogurt technique issues.

Customers will have the option of eight different flavors from which to choose, ranging from Original to Key Lime Pie. The store's list of currently offered toppings will remain the same. What will change, of course, is the method of pricing. Red Mango will be charging $0.45 per ounce.

The slow and gradual move to self-serve is not the only change Red Mango is making in its attempt to reinvent itself. The company is also pushing a new Rethink Smoothies campaign, which boasts 22 different varieties of probiotic teas and smoothies. Red Mango is hoping that the campaign will not only set them apart from myriads of other frozen yogurt competitors, but that it will reinvent the company as the go-to for a healthy, quick, meal-replacement options.

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Kristy Yang
Contact: Kristy Yang