Desserts have always been a treat. But with diners increasingly focused on eating healthier or better-for-you options, it can be a challenge for operators to maintain good sales for sweet treats. Selling more desserts and sweet snacks all day long requires a multi-pronged strategy to boost between-meal sales, incorporating diners’ tendency to snack throughout the day, purchase sweets on impulse after seeing an enticing package or display, and highlighting clean, feel-good ingredients that the treats are made from.
With this approach, diners and operators alike win—diners get to indulge in the tasty desserts they crave, all while feeling good about their choices; and operators enjoy steady sales throughout the day.
Feel good foods
Restaurant patrons want to have it both ways—they want to indulge in desserts and snacks, but they also want to feel good about what they’re eating. One reliable way to let them have their cake and eat it, too, is to offer better-for-you desserts made with clean ingredients.
For instance, offer options with health-halo buzzwords such as non-GMO or made without artificial colors and flavors as well as all-natural callouts such as all-butter dough, pure cane sugar and only cage-free eggs. Other options to offer on the menu can also include gluten-free options. What’s more, train the waitstaff to mention these health-conscious attributes when discussing dessert selections and include mentions on the menu.
Another way to make patrons feel better about their dessert is to source sweets from companies that have a commitment to sustainability. For instance, Sweet Street's Manifesto® product ingredient suppliers have ongoing programs for farmers and local communities. Those aspects resonate with consumers, especially younger diners.
Even with quality ingredients, dessert can be a tough sell after a delicious and satisfying meal. One solution is to offer dessert to-go for snacking later. Nearly half (48%) of snack purchases are impulse purchases, according to Technomic’s 2018 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report. Individually wrapped cookies and bars are ideal for this purpose. Have waitstaff bring a platter of goodies just before presenting the check or set up a display by the host stand or the register (if diners take their checks there to pay). Try offering some free samples to prime add-on sales, too.
Capitalize on the American propensity for snacking. A whopping 80% of consumers say they snack at least once a day, according to Technomic’s Snacking Occasion report.
Set up afternoon or late-evening “snack happy hours,” promoting mini-desserts or shareable items at discounted happy hour prices. For the 26% of consumers who say they would be likely to order mini desserts as snacks, according to Technomic’s Snacking Occasion report, this tactic could pay off big. Write a creative snack menu with alluring descriptions of the sweet treats and calling out wholesome details such as non-GMO ingredients, if applicable. Be sure to add high quality photos, too—85% of consumers say they are more likely to buy if the item is accompanied by a photograph.
Bundling builds checks. Offer snack and drink combos—pair a Salted Caramel Crunch cookie or a Toffee Crunch Blondie with a cup of coffee, a mug of hot chocolate or a glass of milk, for example. For evening snack hours, create signature cocktails that pair well with desserts to attract late-night traffic. Larger items such as whole cakes, molten bundts, pies or cheesecakes are perfect for large groups to share. Or, create a crowd-pleasing tasting platter with an assortment of desserts; back that up with an offer to wrap up their favorite cake or pie to take home.
Make it fun
Drive traffic during slow periods with snack-centric events. Sip, snack and painting parties are hugely popular, for instance. And trivia & treats contests, bingo & brownies nights and karaoke & cake sessions can draw a crowd eager to indulge.
When it comes to selling more snacks and sweets between meals, the key is to make the offerings enticing and easily available. From showcasing myriad options to offering bundles, highlighting clean ingredients and promoting happy hour deals, all customers need is a little nudge to indulge.
This post is sponsored by Sweet Street Desserts