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Why signature and unique menu items are a must-have

Photograph: Shutterstock

While there will always be some diners who order the same thing every time they visit a restaurant, Technomic’s 2017 Flavor Consumer Trend Report finds that a majority of consumers—65%--say they like trying new flavors from time to time. For restaurant operators, while it’s important to have some mainstays and familiar favorites on the menu, offering signature items, seasonal offerings and limited-time offers (LTOs) is perhaps even more important, particularly for attracting younger diners. Technomic’s 2017Flavor report finds that of consumers 18- to 34-years old, 53% are more interested in trying new flavors than they were a year ago, compared to 35% of consumers overall.

But beyond attracting younger consumers, why is it so important to offer a unique menu?

Differentiation from the competition, for one—if every restaurant on a block had the same 10 or 15 menu items, diners would quickly grow tired of their choices and either go somewhere else or eat at home. But unique menu items and new flavors can draw people in; 73% of consumers say they are more likely to visit a restaurant that offers new flavors, according to Technomic’s 2017 Flavor report.

Another reason is to satisfy consumers’ often-changing desire for new flavors—when they order items with new food and flavors, 31% say they are doing so because, according to Technomic’s 2017 Flavor report, they want to try a trendy dish or flavor, 27% say they are doing so because they’re looking for spicier flavors and 26% say they are doing so because they’re looking for bolder flavors. And they’re willing to pay for it—66% of consumers say they are willing to spend more on a meal that features new flavors.

How to amp up the menu

Changing up the menu can feel like an overwhelming endeavor. From the planning to the food cost to training kitchen staff on new dishes, adding even one new dish can be a big undertaking. But with a few choice ingredients or products, restaurants can expand their menu offerings without creating a lot of extra costs. For instance, restaurants can offer new toppings for pizzas, global condiments or toppings for sandwiches, or swap out traditional breakfast sausage with new flavors, like Jimmy Dean® Chorizo patties , Maple patties or Barrel-Smoked sausage links. The latter can give breakfast a whole new look, without straying too far from what customers know and love.

For diners who gravitate toward sweet flavors, serve up a Lumberjack Stack Sandwich, for instance—a breakfast sandwich featuring Maple patties, melty cheese, a fried egg, country gravy drizzle and onion straws, all on a soft biscuit.

Want to appeal to diners who love savory? It’s a sure bet when serving up a Barrel-Smoked Links Breakfast Platter, with oven roasted potatoes and bell peppers, eggs, and Barrel-Smoked Links from Jimmy Dean®. Give diners a choice of sides like buttered toast, pancakes or fresh fruit, and it’s a win. 

And for diners who might want to try an ethnic twist on a mealtime staple, try offering a Mexican-inspired Breakfast Torta, served on a toasted roll and filled with poblano peppers, caramelized onions, egg yolks, avocado-orange guacamole, cilantro and Jimmy Dean® Chorizo sausage patties.

Mixing up the menu doesn’t have to mean introducing a full page of unfamiliar ingredients, proteins and toppings. By updating just one aspect of a dish, diners can look forward to trying something new—and restaurants won’t feel the burden of a whole new menu.

This post is sponsored by Tyson Foodservice


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