Lunch can be a difficult daypart for many operators. Whether it’s attracting diners who are in a rush or enticing consumers who normally bring their lunches or eat at home, restaurants have to be creative in order to win lunch dollars.
As such, many restaurants turn to combo meals and other unique offerings to boost their lunch businesses. One option that may be able to help boost lunch sales, interestingly, is soup. From seasonal flavors and ingredients to pairing soup with other menu items to offer customers a multi-course meal, here are four hacks for boosting lunch sales with soup.
1. Offer tasty, filling lunch combos
According to Technomic’s 2018 Soup and Salad report, 25% of consumers say the reason they don’t order soup is because they don’t want to pay extra to order it as a side item. To combat that objection, operators can offer menu pairings, such as soup and salad or soup and a half sandwich, for one convenient price. This way, diners can choose what they’d like to pair with their favorite soup, and because they’re getting it alongside another item, they won’t feel like they’re paying extra for it.
Beyond new pairings, 40% of consumers say it’s important that they can substitute soup for sides that come with entrees, so offering it as a side dish (instead of fries or chips, for instance) can also benefit lunchtime sales.
2. Menu interesting or seasonal-specific soups
To entice consumers to order more soup, it’s crucial to offer craveable soups they want to try over and over. Technomic’s Soup and Salad report finds that 39% of consumers say they visit certain restaurants specifically because they enjoy the soup that restaurant offers.
Restaurant operators can encourage more soup purchases by offering new and exciting soup varieties, as well as offering seasonal soups or soups with seasonal ingredients. For instance, in the wintertime, heavier, heartier soups such as chili or beef and vegetable might encourage diners to buy soup for lunch, while in the spring, offerings such as tomato Florentine with pasta soup or split pea with ham soup perk up lunch with bright greens and veggies. Operators can also consider offering new soups that diners may not be familiar with. According to Technomic’s Soup and Salad report, 34% of diners say they are interested in trying more ethnic soups. For these diners, Mexican pozole, Japanese ramen, Vietnamese pho or gazpacho may be intriguing.
3. Offer smaller portion sizes to encourage snack add-ons
Technomic’s Soup and Salad report finds that nearly a quarter (22%) of consumers say that the reason they don’t order soup is because they’d be too full to eat their main meal. A way to work against that is to offer smaller portion sizes as an add-on—this way, diners can order soup either as a light snack before their meal, or to hang onto and warm up later in the day when they’re feeling hungry mid-afternoon.
If restaurants only offer soup in “bowl” size for entrees at lunch, offering small “cup” sizes can be a great way to increase diners’ interest in purchasing soup. Offering smaller sizes can also appeal to diners who are in a rush, since they won’t have to wait as long for the soup to cool down to eat.
4. Give soup the salad bar treatment
From choosing the toppings on their pizza and salads to the mix-ins they add to their ice cream sundaes, creating a meal that includes everything they want (and nothing they don’t) is appealing to consumers. In fact, according to Technomic’s Soup and Salad report, 38% of consumers say that when they order soup, it’s important that the ingredients can be customized.
Operators can attract these diners by offering an array of toppings and mix-ins for soups. From standard options such as shredded cheese or crackers to premium toppings such as bacon, flavored croutons, roasted vegetables or even proteins such as shrimp or lobster, giving customers the chance to customize and upgrade their soup experience can be a great way to increase lunchtime patronage.
Partner with a brand that’s Made to Serve®.
At Campbell’s Foodservice, we know you work hard to delight your guests. That’s why we work to do the same for you. We’re committed to serving products your guests trust, and we’re always innovating to make sure we deliver on the needs of not just today but tomorrow as well. Because as the seasons change, so do guests’ tastes.
Our prepared soups can drive more sales for you throughout the entire year. Whether you’re refreshing your menu for spring or adding a new twist on a cold-weather favorite, our soups are your key to getting the most out of each passing season.