We were struck by the pessimistic review of the frozen yogurt business in your Nov. 7 Monday report, "Yogurt: Southland's Cup Runneth Over." Undeniably there is reason for pessimism when dozens of small "mom and pop" and franchised stores are closing, although the sheer proliferation of yogurt stores is a factor. We would, however, question whether the "yogurt store on every corner" syndrome is the only cause of distress. Couldn't it also be the maturing of the industry and the obsolescence of franchise corporation marketing concepts to which all franchise and most independents subscribe?
The oldest maxim in retail marketing is "give your customers what they want." For us this means the convenience and fun of making your own frozen yogurt treat and having a large number of choices in doing so.
There is nothing new in these concepts. Baskin & Robbins recognized the value of offering 31 flavors four decades ago, and the corner ice cream store became nostalgia. Arco's am/pm mini-markets innovated with self-service for many different products several years ago.
Independent stores can thrive if owners are able to rethink or even discard marketing concepts derived consciously or, more likely, unconsciously, from franchised frozen yogurt corporations. Focus on the needs of the customers in your market area and find the ways to satisfy those desires profitably. Develop the novel concepts required to succeed in an emerging and complex industry. The opportunity exists today for the future Baskin & Robbins of frozen yogurt, if Baskin & Robbins doesn't get there first.
KRISTI and ED de MERLIER
The writers are the owners of the two Yours Frozen Yogurt shops.