California Pizza Kitchen Reinvents Seasonal Non-Alcohol Beverages

Image: CPK Fresh Strawberry Mango Cooler

Non-alcohol offerings at many chain restaurants can generously be referred to as inadequate. So when California Pizza Kitchen went all in on upgrading their zero-proof drinks, it easily took home the 2016 VIBE Vista Award for Best Adult Alcohol Free Program for Chain Restaurants.

For California Pizza Kitchen, “California creativity” drives much of their strategy: fresh, seasonal, and influenced by flavors from around the globe. Last year, their featured Fresh Strawberry Mango Cooler, one of the three beverages behind their Flavors of Summer program, focused on a “Drink the Unique” concept.

Creating a seasonal platform focused on strawberries provided an opportunity to take a universally popular flavor and introduce new twists, such as the aforementioned Fresh Strawberry Mango Cooler. Hand-shaken at the bar with slices of strawberries and flavors of guava, mango and ginger, the visual cues encouraged trial, particularly during the day part when guests are looking to pair a mocktail with their meal.

“This campaign is one that we put a large emphasis on when it comes to our overall marketing strategy to introduce new guests to CPK and to increase traffic during a time when our seasonal, limited time items are available,” said the company in their entry, particularly important in light of the decline in general on fountain sales in the NAB category. Based on a soft drink, this non-refillable, hand-crafted soda did so well it’s now listed on the menu.

Supported with an integrated marketing activation campaign, the Flavors of Summer beverages included the Fresh Strawberry Mango Cooler ($2.99, non-alcoholic), Strawberry Lime Margarita ($8.99) and Strawberry Mojito ($8.29). In addition to the strawberry creations, the California Fields Salad, Tricoloré Salad Pizza and Strawberry Shortcake were included in the promotion.

A successful program is only as successful as the execution. CPK placed significant emphasis on training team members to execute the promotion in the weeks leading up to it, with job aids that detailed the new items that highlighted the seasonal beverages and menu items.

Throughout the campaign, CPK saw a significant shift in beverage, bringing the Fresh Strawberry Mango Cooler to rank #4 in the NAB category. Only iced tea, Coke and Diet Coke beat its placement in the ranking, considered a huge accomplishment overall as it is the best-selling non-refillable beverage in the existence of their NAB program. There was also a positive sales lift and a higher margin percentage during the promotion as the promoted beverages were high margin/low cost recipes.

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