About 70% of its $285 million in sales are from adults who pay $4 for gourmet cone "creations" hand-mixed on a frozen granite stone with up to 70 different add-ins.
"It's clearly understanding who your customer is and trying to provide them something unique or different from our competitors," says Joe Kendra, 46, chief brand officer. From the unique experience of being serenaded to by the crew mixing the treats to its local store marketing philosophy, Cold Stone is a brand that knows what makes people happily wait through long lines for their personalized cone of creamy-and fattening-luxury.
Mr. Kendra makes sure photographs of the Stone's cones and ice-cream cakes stand out. Before launching its cake program, "We bought all our competitors' cakes from grocery stores and other ice cream stores, and customers couldn't tell the difference from any of our cakes," says Mr. Kendra. He ordered changes. "We wanted you to be able to clearly see that it's a Cold Stone cake." In one year, per- store cake sales have tripled and in some cases grown 1,000%.
"When you look at what they've done compared to Maggie Moo's, Ben & Jerry's and Haagen-Dazs, these chains are growing because a chain like Cold Stone has set an example for them," says Darren Tristano, managing director-information services division, Technomic.