Ice cream of the crop: digesting Baskin-Robbins’ next-gen outpost

Featuring a revamped design and a fresh ice cream novelties range, the Baskin-Robbins Moments store in California is the beginning of a new roll-out.

17 December 2018
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Baskin-Robbins claim to be the world’s largest ice cream chain with around 7,500 locations spread over nearly 50 countries. They also hold the Guinness World Record for the largest cup of ice cream (8,865lbs) and are known for their 31 flavours – i.e., a flavour for every day of the month.

The battle to remain relevant has led the 75-year-old US national treasure to open a unique concept store in Fresno, California.

This latest addition to the brand is a totally new style of Baskin-Robbins store, with the company working closely with customer service and branding agency WD Partners to create the Moments concept.

Senior vice-president Jason Maceda said that the store will look to provide “an entirely new way to experience Baskin-Robbins,” with plans to spread the new features throughout the company’s portfolio from 2019.

But what exactly is going on in store and what do they want to achieve with the new concept?

A menu upgrade

The new Baskin-Robbins store features a modernised menu housed in sleek glass cabinets as the company attempts to look a little more high end, mimicking “jewels in a jewellery box,” as Carol Austin, BR’s vice president of marketing, told CNBC.

The store has introduced a new selection of “ice cream novelties” – premium, hand-dipped frozen treats, a first for the brand. These include chocolate-dipped bananas, ice cream bars, smoothie bars, waffle cones and Polar Pizza slices – cookies topped with ice cream and then dipped in chocolate.

Also new is an expanded toppings station, with the store focusing heavily on customisation. Everything is displayed on next-gen, digital menu boards featuring both photo and video.

“Customization is important to consumers today, it's something we are amplifying in the new store design," explained Austin.

Food Spark has previously noted that, amid the clear and evident healthy-eating boom, there is also something of a sly revolt taking place, with ice cream parlours one of the growing sectors on the market, according to analysis of 500 town centres by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The consensus, in the UK at least, is that ice cream parlours are both innovative in terms of their treats and also affordable, with millennials still looking for a naughty something to brighten up the day.

If Baskin-Robbins’ twerk-packed summer ad campaign – “Baskin-Robbins got me like” – is anything to go by, the message is clearly not Britain-specific, with the ice cream giant eager to remain relevant with the new and younger generations.

Baskin’ glory

To dovetail the release of the new line of treats in the new, accessibly modern store, Baskin-Robbins has also added an “Insta-friendly” mural as well as interactive artwork.

The mural feature will be used across all new concept stores from next year and will change according to location, with the Fresno mural featuring local landmarks and features, including forest campsites and local parks – artwork being something Taco Bell, incidentally, is also emphasising in its new London outlets.

BR conducted extensive customer research in the design process, while keeping an eye on the likes of McDonald’s and Starbucks, which have also been rolling out new and modern ways to improve US customers’ experiences.

Indoor and outdoor seating, swivel chairs, upholstered banquettes, high tables and bar stools are all part of the new Baskin-Robbins look.

The front of the store also has a new ‘garage door and window’ feature to allow quick and easy access to the selection, with the whole revamp “intended to be an inviting place for guests to come enjoy the best ice cream on Earth and create that pure and simple moment.”

While it has not been revealed how much Baskin-Robbins have spent on this new concept, the second store has already been pencilled in at El Paso, Texas, for early 2019.

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