Limited time offers, or LTOs, are a boon in the restaurant industry. They offer customers the chance to try something new and exciting, and they offer operators a chance at cashing in on the latest trends without making a big risk with a permanent menu item. According to Technomic’s 2019 presentation Using Consumer Data in LTO Development, LTOs are especially intriguing for women and millennials; 68% of women say the introduction of innovative dishes is important when choosing which restaurants to visit, while 72% of millennials say that new flavors and menu launches are an important attribute when visiting restaurants, according to the same presentation. But the sky’s the limit when creating an LTO—restaurants may need some inspiration when offering up something new. Check out these recent LTO trends, according to Technomic’s April 2019LTO Trends report.
Unique sauces and spreads
Flavorful spreads like aiolis and chutneys, perfect for diners looking to try something new, are popping up in sandwiches like Culver’s Spinach Artichoke BLT Crispy Chicken Sandwich, which features a savory spread of spinach-artichoke dip. But unique spreads and sauces are great for other dishes, too, like grain bowls. One recent LTO at Silver Diner in Rockville, Md., the Ancient Grain Shrimp Bowl, featured quinoa, farro, fresh mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, greens, kalamata olives, watermelon radishes, sunflower seeds and microgreens, topped off with a unique pesto vinaigrette.
Drinkable desserts have been in the spotlight for a while now, thanks to Instagrammable “freak shakes” piled high with cookies, candy, slices of cake and more. Milkshake LTOs are still going strong, though it’s no longer necessary to pile everything on at once. Tone down the toppings and mix in favorites like Snickers and M&M’s candies to attract diners who want something familiar. For instance, Johnny Rockets’ Caramel Crunch Shake, made with Snickers®, or Burger King’s new Vanilla Shake made with M&M’s® candy.
Portability is still a big draw for on-the-go eaters, and desserts aren’t exempt from that. Recent LTOs that have showcased portability include Chick-fil-A’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie, currently being tested in the San Fracisco Bay area, South Florida and Richmond, Va., and Potbelly’s Mint Chip Chocolate Brownie Cookie, offered in Q42018. Like milkshakes, handheld desserts are the perfect vehicle for adding in diners’ favorite candies—try menuing a Twix®or Snickers® Brownie or Peanut M&M’s® Peanut Butter Cookies
This post is sponsored by Mars Foodservices