September 01 2014 – Robert Fiumara
While more consumers are skipping beverages to save the change in their pockets and many restaurants move toward bolstering their appetizer selections to generate revenue and increase their bottom line, a particular consumer trend is going unaddressed. Namely, many restaurants are overlooking or under-appreciating dessert as part of their restaurant menu. Many places opt to offer standard frozen fare, or offer a very limited selection, but this is problematic as most current trends indicate that up to a third of all potential patrons will consider dessert.
Bolster Your Dessert Menu
While smaller portions are becoming trendier in restaurants across the country, a study commissioned by the Cheesecake factory found that nearly 1/3rd of their tested consumers thought about dessert before they ordered their main course. Of those, an overwhelming majority also signified that they ordered the main course that they did in order to account for the cost of dessert or save room for it.
To further drive this point, of those polled, 15 percent of those same survey respondents say that they picked a given restaurant because they offered a particular dessert dish that they craved. An earlier study that appeared front and center in the Journal of Consumer Research looked at current eating trends, including the healthy eating habit one, and suggested that “low calorie counts and health claims at fast food restaurants have a ‘halo effect’ that causes diners to underestimate the calories in main dishes, and choose higher calorie side dishes, drinks, or desserts.”
This research goes hand in hand with what we in the industry have already suspected. That, despite over the past couple of years, Americans have wanted portion sizes trimmed down, they've been tacking on upgrades like appetizers, alcohol, and desserts to most of their meal outings.
In fact, another study published by Technomic found that more diners are eating dessert items during both the mid-morning and mid-afternoon hours as snack between and after meals. In this study, 40 percent of respondents reported that they eat desserts after a meal at least twice a week, 78 respondents said they are more likely to order dessert to treat or reward themselves for better meal selections, and 36 percent of the respondents agreed that they were more likely to order a dessert when they could share, or when a mini portion was available.
and You'll See a Large Revenue Increase
So what does this mean for you? It means that if you’re looking for a sweet stream of revenue, you should consider bolstering your dessert menu alongside the rest of your bonus items. Dessert isn't something to be tacked on, it is just as important in the consideration of where a consumer or guest will choose to dine.