Sandwiches are ubiquitous on menus, but they’re also easy enough for diners to make themselves. Although 40% of sandwiches are purchased away from home, according to Technomic’s new Sandwich Consumer Trend Report, sandwich consumption in restaurants is down. Increased competition within the limited-service segment is part of the reason, but supermarkets and c-stores are also upping their sandwich game. How to overcome these challenges and get sandwich customers in the door? Read on to find out.
1. Make it unique
Younger consumers are seeking sandwich innovation. About 11% of Gen Zers say they are ordering fewer sandwiches because the available menu options are not unique enough, and 50% of 18-to 34-year-olds would like restaurants to offer more sandwiches with new or unique flavors, per the Technomic report.
Sales builder: Change up the bread, add a housemade condiment or upgrade the filling. Make Sandwich, an indie sandwich shopin New York City doesn’t reinvent the handheld but adds chef-made touches. The menu’s roast turkey and smoked gouda sandwich is spread with chili-celery mayo and topped with pickled apples, while its pork belly sandwich is flavored with kogi mayonnaise and Asian pickles.
2. Make it all-day
Breakfast sandwiches are now being offered all day and typical lunch and dinner ingredients, such as fried chicken and brisket, are hitting breakfast menus. Far more younger (32%) than older (14%) diners have increased their consumption of breakfast sandwiches outside of breakfast hours. Putting an egg on a signature sandwich can signal an all-day option to diners.
Sales builder: Which Wich’s new Brunchwich features rotisserie roasted beef and lamb gyro slices, smoked thick-cut bacon, American cheese, fresh tomatoes, housemade harissa mayo and a sunnyside-up egg on a toasted baguette.
3. Make it delivery friendly
Thirty-two percent of consumers say a primary reason they purchase a sandwich is that it’s portable. But not all sandwiches travel well. Menuing items with portability in mind, such as wraps and deli sandwiches, can attract that to-go customer. The Technomic survey also found that 42% of consumers want the option of receiving condiments on the side, as this can prevent breads from becoming soggy.
Sales builder: Grab-and-go specialist Pret a Manger builds many of its sandwiches on sturdy baguettes, such as the Cuban Baguette featuring pulled pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and whole grain mustard, and frequently rotates in fresh choices so customers don’t get wilted veggies.
4. Make it ethnic
Globally influenced sandwiches, many of which feature unique ethnic breads and bold condiments, are a draw for younger consumers. More than 40% of 18-to-34 year-olds would like restaurants to offer a greater variety of ethnic sandwiches, with Asian and Mexican as top choices. Sandwiches that represent less widespread Asian cuisines are starting to trend on menus, with some operators tapping into street foods to expand their offerings.
Sales builder: The Kati Roll Company, a six-location Indian-inspired chain, menus sandwiches wrapped in flat paratha bread. Options include chicken tikka, shrimp masala and a minced lamb and lentil patty, all spiced with authentic Indian flavors.
5. Make it healthy and sustainable
While consumers don’t always order healthier options, they do say want they want the ability to. And plant-based proteins as sandwich meat alternatives are growing in demand, especially among younger consumers. In fact, 37% of Gen Zers and 31% of millennials are interested in trying sandwiches featuring imitation meat. Additionally, about 8.3% of operators now offer jackfruit sandwiches, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor, powered by Ignite. Most kitchens toss the shredded jackfruit with barbecue sauce to resemble pulled pork.
Sales builder: Several college dining programs have debuted jackfruit sandwiches at their vegan stations. On the restaurant side, the concession at Disneyland’s California Adventure features a BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich on a toasted ciabatta roll topped with slaw, sweet pickles and crispy onions.