Innovative Desserts Can Boost Check Averages and Drive Off-Peak Traffic

Restaurants can seize opportunity to indulge diners’ appetites for new flavors at meal’s end

Consumers love dessert: 63% indulge at least once a week. 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 brands to strike a balance between traditional and more innovative offerings, such as miniature desserts that appeal to younger consumers ordering them as snacks, meal replacements or a lower-calorie treat.

Incremental dessert sales, and thus higher check averages, could 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. 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:

  • 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 Top 500 chains, caramel, carrot and vanilla are the fastest-growing flavors of baked goods.

Spotlight on Desserts

[View larger INFOGRAPHIC: Spotlight on Desserts]

The Technomic Dessert Consumer Trend Report is one of many topics in its 2015 Consumer Trend Report series, offering the most current analysis, insight and opportunities to help grow your business. Our best-in-class intelligence combines 50 years of foodservice expertise with critical findings from over 7,000 menus per year and nearly 30,000 annual consumer interviews.

Find more information about the Dessert Consumer Trend Report here.



Kelly Weikel

As Director of Consumer Insights, Kelly specializes in using her background in psychology to understand the “why” behind consumer decisions. Her focus is on uncovering the underlying consumer needstates and motivations that shape foodservice behaviors and providing insights on consumer attitudes and usage across foodservice products, amenities and brands. Since joining the firm in 2007, Kelly has played a key role in developing Technomic’s Consumer Trend Reports and Access platform and manages the series of more than 20 annual studies that keep U.S. and Canadian foodservice professionals up to date on evolving trends in food and beverage categories, restaurant sectors, dining occasions, consumer segments and more.

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