by Charlotte Atchley, Baking & Snack
Donuts as a reward — that appealing concept drives Krispy Kreme’s decadent, limited-time-only donut line: the Krispy Kreme Chocolate & Caramel Shop. From June to August, this promotion offers consumers three new donuts — Caramel Chocolate Chip Cake, Chocolate Caramel Pretzel and Dark Chocolate Kreme — all devoted to two of America’s top flavors.
“Krispy Kreme donuts have long been a reward for people,” said Dwayne Chambers, chief marketing officer for the Winston-Salem, NC-based company. “When you think about how people reward themselves with sweet treats, certainly chocolate and caramel lend themselves to that.”
These three donuts are the latest in the Krispy Kreme tradition of seasonal donuts that Mr. Chambers estimated has existed for about 50 years. The company’s product development staff works hard to stay ahead of flavor trends such as salted caramel.
Ultimately, however, consumers have the final say. “On an ongoing basis, we have surveys and concept testing,” Mr. Chambers explained. “We go out to our guests to find out what they might like, and from there, we’ll do a lot of R&D work.”
What starts as a list of 1,000 flavor ideas becomes 100 to 150 concepts and then 30 to 50 things Krispy Kreme will tinker with before settling on 10 donuts that will actually make it to its stores.
For these caramel-and-chocolate varieties, inspiration came from a number of different places. Flavor trends and consumer research showed that salted caramel was the latest hot concept. The Chocolate Caramel Pretzel donut, with its caramel glaze and pretzel-chunk topping, taps into that savory/sweet combination. From its own sales data, Krispy Kreme saw that after the Original Glazed donut, the chocolate-flavored donut is its top performer. Consumer research also revealed that caramel is the No. 2 flavor choice. Combining these two best-sellers was an obvious next step.
On top of flavor and consumer research, Krispy Kreme also saw the success of similar products in global markets such as Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. The Chocomania line of products was promoted in all six Middle East countries as well as Asia, the UK, Turkey and the Dominican Republic. This line featured varieties such as Caramel with Toasted Meringue, Chocolate Cheesecake and Orange Chocolate. Krispy Kreme’s global Caramel line included Salted Caramel, Caramel Cheesecake and Banana Caramel, which the company rolled out in Latin America and Mexico and plans to launch in the Middle East later this year.
Limited-edition donuts not only keep things fresh for the consumer but also for Krispy Kreme’s retail teams. While part of Krispy Kreme’s charm is the way it puts its semi-automated donut lines in full view of guests, many donuts are finished by hand. The Chocolate & Caramel Shop donuts have the most finishing steps of any other Krispy Kreme donut in stores today.
Mr. Chambers noted store employees enjoy hand-finishing the new donuts. “It gives them something new to learn and be proud of and excited about,” he said. This excitement from the team behind the counter helps create buzz on the other side of the counter. “If our people are excited about it, our guests will try it.”