The Wall Street Journal thinks that smoothies and Paris Baguette may be the next ripples in the ubiquitous Korean Wave.
A South Korean cultural wave is sweeping the world, with interest surging in areas ranging from the country’s pop music to cosmetics to television dramas. Now, smoothies could be next.I wonder if Smoothies Korea will entice Americans with ad campaigns like the full backside nude butts in the pre-Yuna Kim "be white" advertising campaign for Smoothie King (am I the only one who remembers that?).
At least that is what Standard Chartered’s private-equity unit is banking on with a $45.5 million joint investment with Korea’s National Pension Service for a 48% stake in Smoothies Korea.
The Korean fruit-blended beverage maker is trying to position itself as a healthful Starbucks-like competitor in the world of smoothies. Its 100 company-owned and franchised stores tap into the country’s café craze while offering a healthy alternative to coffee and shunning sugar as a sweetener, said Charles Huh, managing director of Standard Chartered Private Equity’s Korean arm.
The plan is to replicate the café approach in the U.S., where grab-and-go is currently the norm, he said.
As part of its new strategy, Smoothies Korea will buy out the American company behind the Korean franchises, New Orleans-based Smoothie King, which began in 1987 and has 529 stories in the U.S. Its owners have agreed to sell.
The Korean company also intends to open stores in China and Singapore, both new markets.
Smoothies Korea hopes to follow the success of other Korean food and beverage brands that have gone overseas, such as Paris Baguette, a bakery and coffee chain with branches in the U.S., China and Singapore, and Red Mango, a frozen yogurt and smoothie chain with a presence in the U.S., Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
And did someone say Red Mango? Tee hee.