Bubble tea, or boba tea—a conventional Taiwanese drink stuffed with tapioca pearls—is exploding in reputation in America. We spoke with Kung Fu Tea‘s advertising and marketing supervisor Matthew Poveromo about how the franchise model, which is ranked No. 57 on Entrepreneur’s 2023 Quickest-Rising Franchises record, is harnessing that development to speed up progress.
How did Kung Fu Tea get began?
Our 4 founders are from Taiwan, they usually noticed a possibility to carry genuine Taiwanese bubble tea taste to America. They opened April 30,, 2010 and took a few yr for proof of idea, opening 13 shops and simply working by means of the menu and actually constructing out the infrastructure that allowed them to develop fairly quickly after they opened up for franchising in 2011.
So what precisely is bubble tea?
Bubble tea, or boba tea, comes from Taiwan, and it is a conventional drink with both tea and milk or tea and fruit. Its most identifiable attribute is these tapioca pearls on the backside of the drink, and you’ve got a bigger straw so you possibly can chew on these whilst you drink, and it is tremendous scrumptious. It was created within the ’80s in Taiwan and it came to visit to America within the ’90’s, primarily in city areas with extra variety. However as demographics shift in America, you are now seeing it being embraced increasingly in rural communities as properly.
Why do you suppose bubble tea is rising in popularity in America?
It was historically very massive in cities and nonetheless is, however as individuals are leaving these cities, they’re bringing this tradition with them and sharing it with associates. It is a very communal, social drink. And in addition, when you find yourself pondering of getting a deal with with a good friend, bubble tea is a really robust various to conventional desserts. With bubble tea, you possibly can management the sugar stage and the components that you just’re placing into it. It may be a really guilt free indulgence, so it is sort of driving the well being development.
With that rising reputation, there are increasingly manufacturers providing bubble tea now. How does Kung Fu Tea stand out from the group?
A number of the different manufacturers have a a lot bigger world footprint, however perhaps not essentially in North America. Kung Fu Tea is targeted on being “America’s Bubble Tea,” so every part we do, from menu design and taste profiles to manufacturers we companion with, has this aim in thoughts. We’re targeted on offering an genuine Asian and Asian-American expertise, whereas on the identical time serving to the drink grow to be extra mainstream in American tradition.
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I additionally suppose it is our fearless model. It is a part of our id that we’re slightly extra daring and in your face, which I believe lots of people can relate to. And also you see that in our social following. We’re actually targeted on constructing a neighborhood on our social platforms. Associated to that neighborhood constructing, we based Nationwide Bubble Tea Day on our eighth anniversary, April 30th, 2018, and it is enjoyable to see different manufacturers within the area now celebrating it with us.
What does Kung Fu Tea search for in its franchisees?
After we onboard franchisees in our company workplace in New York, we at all times ask them, ‘Why Kung Fu Tea?’ and the largest factor is simply their expertise with the drink. They’re very passionate in regards to the business, the product, and particularly our model and the standard we put behind our recent tea. We’re not completely searching for folks with franchise historical past or enterprise historical past. What we are searching for is adaptability. The business is at all times altering, so having retailer homeowners who perceive that it is a fast-moving business and are there to develop with us is precedence primary.
What are your targets for 2023?
The quantity [of open stores] we’re circling on our whiteboards is 410. And for systemwide gross sales, we’re aiming for $240 million. So these are two formidable numbers to hit, and we’re very excited.
What methods do you’ve for hitting these numbers?
One of many greatest is we’ve some partnerships lined up for 2023 which I am very enthusiastic about. In 2022 we partnered with Nintendo to advertise their latest Kirby sport. We developed a customized cup and a customized taste referred to as Kirby’s Fruity Flurry that was out there for a restricted time. It received our clients tremendous excited. Folks made fan artwork and comics based mostly on it, and that is how it is a profitable program—when folks do not identical to what you created, nevertheless it conjures up them to create as properly. So these are the varieties of partnerships we’re seeking to proceed in 2023, with iconic manufacturers and family names.
We’re additionally enthusiastic about our app, which was important for us these previous couple of years, because it was launched proper earlier than Covid. Now we’re overhauling our reward system and dealing on simply having a prime tier app and streamlining the ordering course of. Ordering bubble tea can doubtlessly be intimidating as a result of you’ve the flexibility to manage the ice stage, sugar stage, toppings, and flavors. So having an app that breaks that down in a easy manner is essential.
Lastly, we even have two different ideas, TKK Fried Hen and Yasubee Ramen. We’re actually enthusiastic about providing twin idea shops to increase our portfolio providing not only for franchisees however for our clients as properly.