Finding Sweets Success

To grow dessert, keep the menu lineup traditional but sprinkle in some compelling offerings
chocolate cake

Nearly 63% of consumers indulge in desserts at least once a week.

That’s a lot of opportunity for the c-store retailer willing to take the right approach, said Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights for Chicago-based Technomic in a recent blog post.

While most customers tend to favor standard sweets like cookies, cakes and pies, “many seek to finish their restaurant meals with something new,” according to Technomic’s Dessert Consumer Trend Report.

The study encourages foodservice providers to strike a balance between traditional and more innovative offerings, such as miniature desserts that appeal to younger consumers who order them as snacks, meal replacements or a lower-calorie treat.

Incremental dessert sales (and higher check averages) can result from brands taking risks and putting a new twist on an old standby, such as the Boston Kreme Croissant Donut at Dunkin’ Donuts or the Strawberry Nachos at Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom, the report indicates.

“Refreshing the dessert menu can land a restaurant in that sweet spot of appealing to consumers who love to order their favorites as well as a new set of diners excited about new flavors,” Weikel wrote. “Brands can’t go wrong with a well-executed brownie or sundae, but they could also pile on the incremental sales if they think up different ways to pitch dessert, from an afternoon pick-me-up to a flight of several small treats.”

Compiling findings from more than 1,500 U.S. consumers, as well as operator interviews, Technomic’s MenuMonitor, Digital Resource Library, Consumer Insights Planning Program and Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report, the Dessert Consumer Trend Report also reveals that:

  • 58% of desserts are purchased on impulse
  • 34% of consumers say they are more likely to order dessert if a smaller-portion option is available
  • Today’s most preferred desserts are brownies (67%), apple pie (65%) and chocolate cake (59%)
  • Among the Top 500 chains, caramel, carrot and vanilla are the fastest-growing flavors of baked goods