Red Mango Returns To Los Angeles
The opening, slated for Oct. 26 at 1011 S. Figueroa St., will introduce Angelenos to the first store in L.A. since the now-defunct inaugural Westwood location, according to Red Mango L.A. Live franchise owner Kathy Hamill.
Yogurtland and Pinkberry, which currently operate 330 and 240 locations worldwide respectively, will be direct competitors for Red Mango, which has 471 locations worldwide, according to the International Frozen Yogurt Association.
Besides a new dessert option, the induction of Red Mango into L.A. Live could also bring a new wave of people to the downtown center, known for its expensive parking, events and dining.
Compared to other eateries in the downtown landmark, Red Mango is the only one containing one “$” on Yelp, the most affordable rating on the business review forum. All other dining options, including Yard House and Katsuya, have either “$$” or “$$$” ratings
The L.A. Live Red Mango will also be self-serve, meaning customers will serve themselves as opposed to having an employee fill the cup. Unlike Pinkberry, who only operates full-service stores, Red Mango has both self-service and full service locations.
While some Red Mango locations are made self-serve because of small locales, making the L.A. Live location self-serve “a very conscious decision,” according to Hamill.
“It adds to the affordability," she explains. "After catching a game at Staples Center, or a movie at Regal, customers will be able to come in and control how much they spend.”
Yogurtland, on the other hand, only operates self-serve locations.
Katherine Irvin, assistant manager of a Yogurtland in Ladera Heights, Calif., said self-serve locations support Yogurtland’s idea of letting its customers make their own yogurt creations.
With Pinkberry and Yogurtland dominating the “froyo” scene in Los Angeles, much of Red Mango’s success will depend on promoting the differences of its product.
“We offer a product superior to that of our competitors,” says Hamill. “Red Mango’s frozen yogurt is the only yogurt whose probiotics don’t die in the freezing process.”
Pinkberry, Yogurtland and Red Mango’s products all possess the National Yogurt Association’s “Live and Active Cultures” seal—which denotes the presence of healthy probiotics in the yogurt—and Irvin assured that the probiotics in Yogurtland’s offerings were alive and well.
According to Red Mango’s website, however, its yogurt contains GanedenBC30, a probiotic known for withstanding freezing temperatures better than others.
It’s all about the price
But offering stronger probiotics should be the least of Red Mango’s worries, at least according to University of Southern California student Kaitlin Anselmo.
Anselmo, who is familiar with Red Mango from growing up in New York, said she doesn’t frequent L.A. Live because of how expensive it is.
“If I’m going to make the trek out to Red Mango from USC, they better offer cheaper prices than Pinkberry,” said Anselmo.
As an L.A. resident, Hamill is aware of how expensive L.A. Live can be and says the average customer at Red Mango will spend $3 to $4 in one visit.
This sits below the average sale of $4.95 at the nearby Pinkberry in Little Tokyo but above the average sale of $3 at the Yogurtland a few blocks south on Figueroa.
For others, Red Mango’s arrival downtown—cheap or not, probiotic or antibiotic—doesn’t mean that much.
Edgar Gonzalez-Aguilar, 22, who has lived in L.A. for the past six years and lives downtown, says he welcomes Red Mango, but it's just another frozen yogurt place and he would like to see fewer cars and more people at the outdoor music events at Grand Park.
Red Mango, who?
The lack of familiarity with the company is Hamill’s main concern.
“We need customers ... repeat customers,” she said.
Getting customers into the store may prove challenging. The yogurt chain started in South Korea and then found success in most major cities across the U.S., except for L.A.
When interviewed in front of the sign-bearing storefront at L.A. Live, Ana Cruz, 17, had never heard of Red Mango and had no idea what the establishment offered.
“I don’t know what that is. Like, the fruit? Red mango? Yeah, I know what that is,” Cruz said.
“Introducing Red Mango to residents of L.A. will be difficult,” said Hamill. “But L.A. Live has a great marketing team that works with different folks and does pairings.”
Red Mango may pair up with Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live and offer moviegoers a discount on a cup of Red Mango on a certain day as long as they present a coupon.
Entering the big leagues
The storefront where Red Mango will operate was the first opening to be leased at L.A. Live in five years, and Hamill is aware of the pressure that comes with landing a spot at the popular downtown center. However, Hamill said she’s confident the No. 1 Zagat-rated product will sell itself, and she’s more concerned about making a positive impact in the community.
Hiring 15 local youth as team members was the first step, and connecting with high schools and college students will be the next.
Aside from offering a 10 percent discount to USC students who present their student I.D. during the first two weeks, she hopes to connect with students by offering 20 percent of profits to local high school and university clubs who host their fundraisers with Red Mango—five percent more than what Yogurtland offers.
Red Mango isn’t the only one-dollar-sign addition to L.A. Live this year. New, cheaper dining options, like Smashburger and Tom’s Urban 24, will be coming to the center late 2013, according to an L.A. Live press release, and could help Red Mango make it in L.A. the second time around.