ATLANTA — The secret is in the cinnamon. The famously decadent aroma and flavor of a Cinnabon cinnamon roll comes from Makara cinnamon sourced from Indonesia, said Kristen Hartman, senior vice-president of marketing for the Snacks Group at parent company Focus Brands.
As the brand expands into retail and food service with such items as cappuccinos and cookies, capturing that signature flavor is a key focus of innovation. The company worked with Nec’tar Cappuccino Group and CSM Bakery to manufacture the branded products, which were unveiled at the NACS Show, hosted by the National Association of Convenience Stores and held Oct. 18-21 in Atlanta.
|Kristen Hartman, senior vice-president of marketing for the Snacks Group at Focus Brands|
“Our group is responsible for this extension into the marketplace, so we’ve got a team of chefs in our R.&D. group, and they work with the manufacturer to make sure we really capture the essence of the Cinnabon brand and get all of the flavor profiles right,” Ms. Hartman told Food Business News at the NACS Show. “Cinnabon is a brand that deconstructs well, and the reason it deconstructs well is from an ingredient standpoint, it has ingredients that really apply to a lot of different product formats, so the cinnamon and the cream cheese frosting, but then it also deconstructs well in that people have an emotional connection to the brand, so when they see those core elements in other forms and formats, it’s the kind of thing they naturally gravitate to.”
This was the insight behind launching into grocery and convenience stores with branded products. There are approximately 1,300 Cinnabon locations, about half of which are in the United States, mostly in malls and airports. The company wanted to broaden consumer access to the brand.
“This is something we started to develop about a year ago,” Ms. Hartman said. “The thing that we know about Cinnabon is people absolutely love the brand, but they tell us all the time that they want more access. We have a good number of locations in the United States, but in the grand scheme of things people don’t have the access to the brand that they want, so we decided to develop a line that extends from our core that gives people a little taste of Cinnabon and to do it in a way that allows them to get it in convenience stores or travel plazas.”
Cookies and pastries will be offered in grocery in-store bakeries as well, she said. Products include a marble pound cake with a cinnamon swirl, a cream cheese frosting filled streusel muffin, a cinnamon chip cookie and a Caramel Pecanbon cookie inspired by one of the chain’s bestsellers.
“And then we’ll be expanding with a couple more items made by CSM,” Ms. Hartman said. “We’ll also be introducing some donuts into the line.”
On the beverage side, a new Caramel Pecanbon cappuccino is set to debut, following last year’s successful launch of a cinnamon roll cappuccino flavor. Another forthcoming product is a cinnamon roll frozen cappuccino, also developed by Nec’tar.
“Consumers right now love indulgent beverages, so when they think about Cinnabon they think that sounds like a delicious indulgent beverage, and the flavors pair really well with coffees, with shakes,” Ms. Hartman said. “We have a Cinnabon flavored shake in Sheetz. So the flavors pair really well with beverages, and it’s also that indulgence people are looking for.”
With WhiteWave Foods, the company developed a Cinnabon flavored coffee creamer, too, which is being introduced in new single-serve pods in the coming months.
Previously, Cinnabon has partnered with General Mills to develop Cinnabon Bakery Inspired Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and with B&G Foods to create a Cinnabon variety of Cream of Wheat.
Offering a twist on traditional convenience store offerings, Focus Brands also is extending its Auntie Anne’s brand with the introduction of a Bavarian pretzel that may be prepared in a number of ways.
“We’re working with a German pretzel manufacturer, and they have really high quality products,” Ms. Hartman said. “The beauty of what we’ve developed here is everything works off of the same pretzel base. The pretzel comes in frozen, and you thaw and serve it. You can brush it with butter or water and sprinkle salt on it, or you can do a cinnamon sugar topping, almond crunch topping, cheese. We’ve got an everything bagel topping. You can bring in one s.k.u. and use different things to create variety through the toppings.”
Retailers with a more developed food program may top the pretzels with a variety of in-house sweet or savory ingredient combinations or slice the pretzel to create a sandwich.“We’ve got a pretzel roll available and a hot dog roll available, but there’s something unique and interesting about an actual pretzel that’s been sliced to make a sandwich, and we had to work with the manufacturer to get this pretzel exactly right,” Ms. Hartman said. “It had to be thick enough and hearty enough to serve as a sandwich carrier.”