Sweet menu offerings on your menu can serve to create “stick-iness,” a term which marketers define as the creation of a loyal returning customer base.
Dessert trends seem to be leaning toward nostalgia. In a research survey*, doughnuts with non-traditional fillings are leading the charge with 64% of chef respondents loving the creations. Savory flavor profiles follow closely behind, which include an entire category of smoked dessert ingredients. Neck-in-neck, is artisan/house-made ice cream. Nation’s Restaurant News reported that the top 2018 dessert trends include gluten-free options. Considering the dearth of food allergies in America today (F.A.R.E. estimates 15M Americans and 30% of children are affected by everything from peanuts to milk); gluten-free is a very good option to include. The question is: how are you going to utilize these trends in a way that attracts your customers like bees to honey? What opportunities exist for upselling your customers before they leave the table?
As a restaurant-goer and in my food journalism experience, desserts seem to be a menu planning afterthought. To me, there is nothing more unappealing than yet another crème Brûlée. Though this very simple dessert can be profitable, it is truly the most unimaginative thing I can think of to see on a menu (if however, it is infused with something interesting, like lavender, or topped in a bacon sugar crust, I might change my mind.) Memorable desserts can be the sole reason that a guest returns. Case in point: I will never forget the desserts at the late Chef Kerry Simon’s whimsical SimonLA in the Sofitel Hotel in Los Angeles. He found a way to gussy up childhood favorites, like Twinkies and Ding Dongs, in a way that was so delightful, one could not help but order them — even if it was for the pure joy of reminiscence.
In service-related businesses, high profits are made with the upsell. Desserts and pairings with incredible beverages provide that opportunity for restaurateurs. I’ve often thought of how charmed I would be if a dessert menu came with pairings of ice wines, sparklers, reds, or even waters, and sodas. As we know, taste profiles that pair well, are either opposite (salt vs. sugar) or the same (sweet and sweet). Why not get creative? Pairings are not always about alcohol. Consider the heaven of salty pizza and sweet Coke, or briny oysters with mineral-esque fizzy water — how can you apply that to dessert?
Lastly, incredible dessert offerings may be an extension of your business you may not have considered. Might a sugary menu element become your trademark?
Also, for a full primer about all of the different types of marketing you can use to either launch a new concept or find new customers for an existing one, all Great Taste readers are welcome to download a free report called, Unraveling the Mysteries of What Marketing Means and The Marketing Umbrella: A List of Definitions.
ABOUT THE WRITER | Alyson Dutch
Alyson Dutch, the CEO of Malibu, California based Brown & Dutch Public Relations, is the
author of PR Handbook for Entrepreneurs and PR Handbook for Food Franchisees. Dutch’s
communication style is straightforward, genuine, and savvy. Her passion for her work
drives her to apply her knowledge in a creative, yet methodical manner. In addition,
she has a keen understanding of the cultural sensitivities that rule the business
marketplace and commands the media’s attention.