Quick Bite: Dairy Queen first QSR to offer light smoothies
For any brand–quick service or not–being a pioneer is often the ultimate dream. And this week, Dairy Queen is making this dream a reality as it becomes the first quick-service restaurant in the industry to offer light smoothies.
The new product line comes as part of the national rollout of Orange Julius Premium Fruit Smoothies to the brand’s 4,000 Dairy Queen units across the U.S. and Canada. It features eight flavors: Orange, Strawberry, Strawberry Banana, Tripleberry, Mango Pineapple, Berry-Pom, OrangeBerry, and Piña Colada.
To promote the Light and Premium Fruit Smoothies, the company has launched the first national television campaign in Orange Julius’s 87-year history, as well as print, digital, social marketing campaigns.
Read more from the source: qsrmagazine.com
Restaurant chains are constantly developing new menu items and the Lent season has become a key period for menu innovation in the last two years. For many Christians, Lent (the 40-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday) means abstaining from eating meat on Fridays.
What could mean lower traffic for restaurants has instead inspired new innovative Lenten seafood offerings, moving past the typical and expected fish sandwich.
McDonald’s introduced Fish McBites this year, an item that is available on both the regular menu and Dollar Menu. McDonald’s has also improved its Filet-O-Fish sandwich, and announced in January that Marine Stewardship Council certifies the fish as 100 percent sustainable.
Marie Callender’s restaurants is promoting several seafood options this season, Salmon & Jumbo Shrimp, Grilled Mahi Mahi Cabo Tacos and Crispy Jumbo Shrimp Dinner as alternative options during Lent.
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen brought back its Butterfly Shrimp for the season. Served in Popeyes’ original Seafood Tackle Box: shrimp, Cajun fries and buttermilk biscuit.
Quiznos brought back its Lobster and Seafood Salad sandwich as well, offering an alternative to sandwich lovers and a healthy under 500-calorie option.
Wendy’s has introduced its Premium Cod Fillet Sandwich, which includes a 3.4-ounce hand-cut fillet of 100 percent North Pacific Cod with panko crumb coating.
These are just a few examples of how restaurants are accommodating consumers who observe Lent and showing they are listening to what their customers want. This can help encourage brand favorability and increase positive brand perception.
Giving customers a way to stay loyal to their Lenten obligations and still enjoy your brand is a great way to show customers you support them.
Plus, some restaurants have found that menu items developed specifically for the Lent season have performed so well that they were added to the menu full time.
David Kincheloe, president of National Restaurant Consultants in Golden, Colorado, told QSR Magazine that “one of his clients started offering lobster bisque on Fridays during Lent and sold out almost immediately. Now the restaurant is looking at adding the item to the year-round menu.”
Photo credit: Flickr.com/roslynyoungrosalia
This year, health and healthy are expected to continue to be top of mind for consumers, and menu innovation from main dishes to beverages will drive the CPG category. A recent article from QSR Magazine discusses predictions for the top food trends in 2013:
- Going Local – Customers increasingly view “local” as a positive attribute. Local sourcing is a “macro trend that will maintain its momentum,” this year, says Joy Dubost, a registered dietician and director of nutrition and healthy living for the National Restaurant Association.
- Healthy kids’ meals – Healthy and creative kids’ meals will continue to make an impression on the industry. These efforts aren’t just appealing to parents—kids are becoming more comfortable with healthier food choices as well. Suggestions include substituting grilling for frying and introducing options that kids can relate to.
- Economic struggles – Although quick-service restaurants have been climbing out of the recession, operators will have to continue to work to overcome barriers, says Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst for market research from NPD Group. Chicken is predicted to have an increased presence on the menus because its price is projected to remain stable.
- Snacks as meals – Around-the -clock eating is becoming more common and customers are demanding smaller and flexible portions to accommodate these habits. Many QSRs have already moved toward snack options, e.g. McDonald’s Spicy Chicken McBites LTO, KFC’s Chicken Little sandwiches, and Sonic’s Cheesecake Bites.
- More fruits and veggies – QSRs are moving past potatoes for french fries or tomatoes and lettuce on a burger with fruits and veggies taking on a starring role. Options like spinach, broccoli, edamame, mushrooms are available at salad chains like Freshii and Tossed, and are likely to show up on a wider range of menus this year.
- Gluten-free options – Thirty percent of all adults say they are cutting back and trying to avoid gluten and these people are looking for more dining out options. It doesn’t appear to be a trend, but more of a long-standing desire and it will be wise for restaurants to adapt their offerings.
- Trickle-up trends – Traditionally food trends start in fine dining and end up in quick service, but now that trend is reversing. “Fast casual will be the way of the world this year,” says Andrew Freeman, founder of Andrew Freeman & Co. He believes limited-service brands will be leaders in new menu items during 2013.
- Ethnic foods – Exploration beyond Chinese food has led to a desire for Thai and Vietnamese, just as those who favor Mexican have moved toward the flavors of South America. As the customers’ palates continues to broaden, restaurants will need to expand menu offerings that play on these flavor desires.
- Innovative beverages – Fruit and vegetable juices are showing strength. Fun, new drinks are worth looking into, whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Starbucks has expanded its Evolution Fresh bottled juices beyond West Coast markets, and they intend to add standalone Evolution Fresh stores that offer made-to-order juices.
- Evolving around health care – The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will take full effect in 2014, which means operators will have additional paperwork and higher costs associated with day-to-day operations. This year, the industry will likely face more consumer and legislative pressure to make changes to the size of beverages and add calorie counts on menu boards.
What is your take on these trend predictions? Do you see any other emerging trends that are worth noting in 2013?
Photo credit: Arvind Grover
If it weren’t for an 18th century English nobleman who requested his lunch meat be placed between two slices of bread so his hands wouldn’t get greasy while playing cards, we wouldn’t have the beloved sandwich.
Today, sandwiches are a go-to meal option with hundreds of varieties and combinations. They are enjoyed worldwide and have become considerably more sophisticated than the average bologna sandwich.
National Sandwich Day is celebrated in many different ways each November 3rd, but each way pays respect to this worldwide favorite!
This year, Subway celebrated the quirky holiday by showcasing their global sandwich flavors across their worldwide footprint. The popular sandwich maker is known for adapting menu items to local customs, religious traditions and food preferences. According to The Daily Meal, in Japan Subway featured a duck pastrami sandwich with sweet orange sauce, and in Sweden they served Skagenröra, a mix of shrimp, mayonnaise, lemon, herbs and spices.
Sonic Drive-In used the holiday to unveil their limited-time Asiago Caesar Chicken Sandwich and improved Classic Chicken Sandwich. The drive-in franchise took it a step further and created a YouTube video that shows how these two sandwiches were developed and prepared, allowing their customers to see behind the scenes lends to further engagement with the brand.
Some restaurants celebrated National Sandwich Day with a friendly face-off to decide who makes the best sandwich. In Boston, three restaurants, Chez Henri, Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese, and All Star Sandwich Bar, went head-to-head to compete for the best sandwich title. They competed in a three-course meal; each entrée was a unique sandwich with sophisticated flavor profiles.
It’s important for QSRs to take advantage of the smaller holidays that pay respect to items your customers are already enjoying. Whether it’s National Sandwich Day, National Hoagie Day (May 5), or National Cheese Lover’s Day (January 20), customers enjoy celebrating—so help give them a reason to visit your restaurant to do it!
Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Mornings are a chaotic time. The alarm is going off. You snoozed a few extra times, and now you’re running late for work. Grabbing breakfast as you run out the door or swinging by the gas station becomes a normal routine.
So how do you encourage your prospective customers to change their routines and head to a QSR instead? Marc Halperin from QSR Magazine believes it’s possible and has three suggestions to make it a reality:
- Seek out the fun and novel. Provide menu options that are transportable, handheld, neat and versatile, with both sweet and savory possibilities. Eating in the car can be messy and a hassle, so including menu options that overcome these barriers will help drive morning foot traffic.
- Shoot for utter uniqueness. Oatmeal and smoothies have become the norm on breakfast menus, so how do you build on this? One idea is to include a line of oat or grain based beverages flavored with chocolate or coffee, offering something savory and delicious. Unique options pique customers’ curiosity so they’re willing to put in the extra effort to visit your store.
- Think in terms of lifestyle shifts. Breakfast is moving toward becoming a two-part process rather than a single, short event. Morning snacking is becoming more prevalent. Creating options that allow customers to eat something now and take something for later would help capitalize on this morning trend.
These three suggestions further emphasize the opportunity that Mintel discusses in their Breakfast Foods report from September 2012. According to the study, the breakfast market remained strong during the recession and is predicted to continue to grow. In fact, 57% of people Mintel surveyed view breakfast as more important than lunch and dinner.
Breakfast is evolving. How will your business evolve with it?
Photo credit: Joe Wolf