Brand Experience Brief: Evolution Fresh

Welcome to Day 2 of Brand Experience Week — a virtual extravaganza of videos that audit and analyze new or interesting restaurant and retail concepts.  These Brand Experience Briefs share my insights into how to design customer experiences that are original, compelling, and memorable. Yesterday, I shared about SuperChix, a new test concept from Yum Brands that shows fast food can be good food.

Today, it’s Evolution Fresh, a new juice-based restaurant concept from Starbucks.  Evolution Fresh provides valuable lessons in how to design a customer experience that takes a niche product mainstream. Check it out:

DLYohn Brand Experience Brief: Evolution Fresh from Denise Lee Yohn on Vimeo.

Tomorrow, I’ll compare the brick-and-mortar experiences of two e-commerce brands, Bonobos and Warby Parker — and later this week you’ll learn about The Yogurt Culture Co. from Dannon, Chobani, and sweetgreen. Subscribe to my feed so you don’t miss them — http://deniseleeyohn.com/feed .

And check out other Brand Experience Briefs here.


Today is 2nd day of Brand Experience Week. Every day this week I’m releasing a video audit and analysis of a new or interesting restaurant or retail concept. Today it’s Evolution Fresh, a new chain of juice restaurants by the folks at Starbucks.

This requires a bit of background first. When Starbucks purchased Evolution Fresh in November 2011 for $30MM, it was a line of bottled juices that could be found on shelves next

to Odwalla or Naked Juice. Although the product was superior to those other brands – it’s cold pressed, not heat pasteurized – the brand wasn’t as widely distributed and therefore not as well known.

The acquisition by Starbucks suggested that Evolution would enjoy expanded distribution but who knew, six months later, they would open the first standalone Evolution Fresh store?!

Today there are 4 Evolution Fresh locations in San Francisco and Seattle. I visited the San Francisco store which is appropriately located in the hipster Fillmore street area of the city.

The concept draws heavily from Starbucks, starting with its green circular logo. The food photography and signage will also seem very familiar to Starbucks customers, as will the friendly apron clad “partners” who serve customers.

The store has a high end feel, with marble countertops, bleached hardwood, and mod furniture – but the open kitchen and chalkboard signage makes it seem accessible. And the signage does a good job of explaining how Evolution Fresh juices are different in taste and nutrition.
In a refrigerated case, there are bottles for purchase along with Evolution Fresh “Rituals” – packs of bottled juices intended for use over several days, like a juice cleanse.

The menu is comprised of juices like Citrus Spice made of orange, carrot, and pineapple, and the Sweet Beet which was smooth and refreshingly light. And there are smoothies like the Smooth Kale smoothie comprised of kale, greens and cucumber juice. There’s also a host of salads, bowls, wraps, egg-based items, and soups made of healthy ingredients like quinoa, butternut squash, and tofu.

At $5 for an 8 ounce juice and $8 for a 16 oz smoothie, the prices might catch some people by surprise, especially if you’re used to picking up a $2 bottle of Naked Juice. But given the quality of the ingredients and the handmade, personalized service, the prices seem appropriate – and they’re on par with other juice concepts which are popping up everywhere

This Evolution store seems like Starbucks’ best effort to get juice and healthy products in general to go mainstream the way it did with coffee. In fact, when Starbucks first acquired Evolution, CEO Howard Schultz said, “Our intent is to build a national Health and Wellness brand.”

So, we can look to this store for lessons on how to take a niche offering mainstream:
– #1 — Use familiar cues to communicate relevance and lower perceived risk
– Also explain what your product is and how it’s different
– Finally offer a variety of ways to try your product including those that are most likely convert to regular usage like the bottled juices that make the product convenient and accessible

The next two Brand Experience Briefs are going to examine pairs of brands – first I’ll show you the brick and mortar stores of e-commerce darlings Bonobos and Warby Parker and then I’ll look at two stores devoted entirely to yogurt – one from Dannon and the other from Chobani. The videos will be chock full of helpful nuggets of wisdom for you to consider how to create the most compelling in-person experience for your brand. Subscribe to my blog feed so you don’t miss them.

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