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Whipping Up Wow: Consumers Go Nuts for Mashup Madness

Mashup Madness

22% of survey participants are eating indulgent desserts more often.1

The wow factor that mashups bring to the table is serving up big business. As the millennial appetite for bold and innovative flavor experiences continue to grow, expect foodservice operators to whip up increasingly dramatic, eye-catching and taste-tempting dessert offerings.

According to survey data from Technomic’s 2017 Dessert Consumer Trend Report, 45% percent of millennials and 23% of consumers over the age of 35 find mash-up and hybrid desserts appealing.2

Millennials are also feeding into the unicorn phenomenon, which takes mashups to the next level with unexpected and unlikely flavor combinations and visual formats that use a “surprise and delight” approach to jump-start sales. (Think Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino, which sold out quickly at chains across the country and became an Instagram sensation during its limited run.3) Thirty-two percent of millennials surveyed cited the appeal of brightly colored unicorn desserts.2

The Quest for Best: Finding Favor with More Flavor

The race is on to invent the next mash-up flavor adventure. Propelled by millennial demand, operators are engaged in a quest for the next over-the-top dessert concoction that will feed the bottom line. Technomic predicts that experimentation will assume a wide variety of forms, from edible cookie and brownie bowls to rainbow-colored ice cream cones and cookies and pies served on a stick.4

New and inventive presentations of classic sweets could balance novelty and nostalgia for mashups that give fresh twists to old favorites. Look for innovative mashups to morph into signature items with popular brand-name ingredients like OREO Cookie Pieces that could help increase restaurant traffic. Signature items that aren’t offered at other establishments motivate 39% of survey participants to visit limited-service restaurants, and 41% to patronize full-service restaurants.5

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Likes: Mashups on Social Media

Bear in mind that more than a third of millennials surveyed post dessert pictures to social media.6 Photo-worthy mash-ups and limited-time hybrids with wow-factor flavor and tableside preparation can generate social buzz and amplify your marketing reach. Over-the-top mash-up experiences are more likely to be deemed Instagram-worthy by younger consumers.

“Food trends like avocado toast, Starbucks’ Unicorn Frappuccino, and over-the-top milkshakes represent different levels of indulgence,” according to Mintel’s Foodservice Trends 2018, “but they also set the standard for a lifestyle defined by social media guiding the ordering process. In fact, more operators are adding branded elements to food and beverages with the knowledge that the item will likely be photographed.”7

Wow-Worthy Dessert Experiments

Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer in New York City “became Instagram-famous due to its launch of Crazy Shakes,”8 which feature toppings like cotton candy, lollipops and hard candies.

But when it comes to attention-grabbing desserts, other mash-ups may take the cake. The ice-cream sandwich chain CREAM (an acronym for “Cookies Rule Everything Around Me”) scooped up sales with its Sundae of Champions limited-time offer—a mega-medley of cookie and brownie crumbles, two scoops of ice cream topped with a doughnut-croissant sandwich, a cookie, whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles.

Meanwhile, the Paris-based Amorino gelato chain, which has locations across the U.S., leverages the millennial love of visual flourish with gelato servings in the form of a rose in full bloom.

Whether you’re part of a large chain, an independent operator or in the noncommercial sector, capitalizing on mashup madness makes perfect sense if you want to cater to flavor-crazed millennial consumers.

1 Mills, Anne and Yonke, Bret, Dessert Consumer Trend Report: Custom Webinar, Technomic, at p. 26 (2017)
2 Technomic, Dessert Consumer Trend Report, at p. 79 (2017)
3 Whitten, Sarah, Unicorn Frappuccino bumped up Starbucks' sales, more quirky drinks to come, CNBC, (2017, Apr. 27)
4 Technomic, at p. 21
Technomic, at p. 70
Technomic, at p. 14
Topper, Amanda, Foodservice Trends 2018, Mintel, at p. 21
Mintel, at p. 12



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