Frozen yogurt back in the States was one of my guilty pleasures. Actually, I never felt guilty at all. The creamy goodness of tart yogurt and all the toppings was a treat I indulged in quite often and never questioned driving 30 minutes or more to get my fix. I am in love with froyo, and when I moved to France, I painfully realized the French just don’t understand frozen yogurt.
In a country where hundreds of cheeses wave at you in every supermarket, you’d think the French would be able to figure out the concept of cheese’s dairy cousin: frozen yogurt. But no. Not yet. Or have they not been given the chance? The disappointing France frozen yogurt places I’ve been to are a sorry excuse for a Red Mango wannabe, so no wonder French people aren’t exactly raving about froyo.
Make no mistake, the French get regular yogurt, ice cream and gelato. There are lovely options all over France if that’s what you’re after. But quality tart froyo? Nooooooooooope.
While there are a few frozen yogurt shops in the south of France, I haven’t personally been to them. But I have visited two frozen yogurt places in Paris. They don’t even compare to the deliciousness of Red Mango or Pinkberry or Yogurtland or 16 Handles. Not. Even. Close. But hey, I’ll give them credit for trying.
France frozen yogurt — 2 of the Paris options:
– TINY with no seating for more than four people. No A/C on a sweltering day, which is odd even by French standards. The frozen yogurt at it mylk had no taste and was expensive to boot, in my opinion.
– MyBerry has a modern feel a la Pinkberry, but the yogurt didn’t taste like anything I’d ever want to consume again. Tart? Nope. Just not right. And the toppings didn’t seem fresh at all.
So Red Mango, open a France frozen yogurt franchise and my addiction alone will pay your rent. OK, so I am exaggerating a little, but I’m sure there are more like-minded individuals out there, tourists and otherwise, who would happily indulge in some quality frozen yogurt. Sometimes the sweet French treats just get to be too much!
For the concept of self-serve frozen yogurt to work in France, I think a franchise owner needs to consider a few things.
- Location. For France frozen yogurt, tourists will most likely be the majority of your customers at first since they know what the froyo craze is all about. Opening up shop somewhere tourists don’t frequent would be suicide for your business. Case in point: MyBerry in the Marais is easy to walk by if you’re walking toward the Seine. It’s located in a corner and is set back slightly, so if you don’t turn around after passing it, you won’t know it’s there.
- The French don’t really get the concept of “to go.” The French do take-out and McDonald’s drive-thrus, but walking with food or a drink? Not common. You will not see people on the street (aside from Paris really) with a cup of coffee to go. In New York, people eat all kinds of things on the way to work, on the train, etc. But in France? Not so much. Don’t get me wrong — McDonald’s and other fast food places do quite well in France but the French love to go inside, sit down and enjoy their food. So a frozen yogurt place in France needs to have a lot of seating.
- Figure out a marketing strategy for France frozen yogurt and make froyo matter. Along with the above, a newcomer to the France frozen yogurt landscape has to figure out how to appeal to the French. It’s a new concept for the French, so why should they care? This is key. Just like French macarons for Americans, it’s the same principle. Americans didn’t know much about macarons five years ago, but now they’re popular and we love them. Laduree in New York is making a killing! The same needs to be done with froyo and the French if it’s to succeed. And another point. If no one knows about your new shop, you’ll fail. How will you make them care? This is the fun part that I love working on.
- Create a vibe. Both places that sold frozen yogurt in Paris were duller than a morgue. There was no music, no liveliness or a cool design theme or any sign of life. Abercrombie gets the whole vibe thing. Blaring music, dimly lit stores and a definite “feel” that makes the brand. Figure out the music, the feel, the lighting and make it a place that people want to be.
- Women don’t want to get fat. Period. French bakeries have yummy croissants and pastries, but the health-conscious gal wants some low-cal frozen yogurt from time to time. Make it happen. There is a market for this. French people don’t know what they’re missing, so they need to be shown.
- Keep prices reasonable. Frozen yogurt is not commonplace in France, so if you want customers, don’t scare them off with an egregious price point right off the bat. Think about it: If you aren’t familiar with something that you personally find a tad expensive (6 euros and up for a small), are you going to spend your hard-earned money on it? Tourists might splurge because they’re carefree on vacation and won’t realize what the exchange rate works out to be, but for regulars? Keep it reasonable.
You think I’m passionate about France frozen yogurt? This post was the result of a year or more of withdrawal. Maybe I’ll start a franchise. Or at the very least, become a very satisfied customer when Red Mango opens in France. A girl can dream, right?