BY Eric Wendt
ALISON NELSON'S CHOCOLATE BAR
While breakfast-all-day recently had its moment in the spotlight as a way to enhance franchise menu items and appeal to a larger swath of the buying public, the other end of the culinary spectrum deserves some love, too.
After all, if there’s one thing most Americans can agree on - young or old, black or white, liberal or conservative - it’s that dessert deserves its place at the dining table.
During the heyday of the Great Recession, consumers were still willing to shell out extra bucks for a sweet treat, according to a 2008 report from USA Today.
"Even in a down-turned economy, dessert is an affordable luxury," Alison Nelson, co-owner of two Chocolate Bar boutiques in New York City, told the paper. "I think we still need to do things for ourselves and things that make us feel happier. If you're looking for a comfort food, dessert is one of those areas that people are going to turn to."
And now that economic recovery is on the up-and-up, it’s likely franchise customers will be even more willing to explore a menu’s dessert options. Now’s the time to make the most of Americans’ love for all things sweet.
Dessert can provide a much-needed leg up over the competition
Citing data from Technomic and NPD Group, QSR recently reported that dessert is on the menu at 72.5 percent of limited-service restaurants, and that the number of dessert items on these menus is growing.
In fact, during the third quarter of 2014, the amount of desserts found at quick-service and fast-casual restaurants increased 3 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
Put simply, franchise dining establishments that aren’t trying to satiate a consumer’s sweet tooth are likely missing out.
Also, desserts can be a great way for franchises to stick out in a crowded marketplace.
For example, there’s no shortage of burger chains for customers to choose from, but with a company like MOOYAH Burgers, Fries & Shakes putting dessert right in its title, it can separate itself from competitors and linger in the minds of consumers who may want an ice cream treat instead of a beef patty.
Of course, simply adding a scoop of ice cream to your menu isn’t the same as captivating a large buying audience. Staying abreast of developing food trends is essential to attracting customers.
With today’s more health-conscious consumers, offering delicious desserts that are low on calories could be one recipe for success.
US Foods highlighted how Baskin-Robbins appealed to calorie-counters by introducing mini cones that feature an ounce of ice cream each, allowing consumers to satisfy their cravings without the guilt that might come from an extra-large sundae.
Regardless of how franchises meet America’s dessert demands, one thing is clear: Businesses that forego sugar for spice may find themselves with a bottom line that is less than nice.
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