April 14, 2020
How to Deliver With Your Desserts
Operators increase sales by offering dessert delivery and takeout options.
Sweeten Off-Premises Sales with Road-Ready Desserts
Desserts can be one of the most challenging elements of an off-premises dining program — especially for operators who typically put a lot of effort into presentation. Many desserts are temperature sensitive, and their integrity may be compromised by the rigors of delivery.
Still, many operators are rethinking their dessert menu to include offerings that will hold up in transit. In some cases, they’re selling partially prepared items (cooking and assembly instructions included) that can be finished at home.
Proper packaging not only helps desserts survive the trip home, it also gives operators an opportunity to promote their brand.
Finish Dessert at Home
Comedor, an upscale Mexican restaurant in Austin, Texas, delivers some of its most popular items in meal-kit form through a new division called Assembly Kitchen. Its Comedor Pastry Plate, for example, includes Mexican pan dulce (concha) in a bread pudding and chocolate laminated yeast dough, which customers proof and bake at home to create Chichilo Mole Babka Rolls.
For operators offering finish-at-home desserts, the key is foolproof instructions for customers with minimal cooking skills. Comedor’s recipes come with a link to video instructions, and the restaurant’s chefs are available through social media to answer customers’ questions in real time.
An unexpected variation on make-at-home desserts comes from Friendly’s Restaurants. To leverage the recent surge in consumer demand for delivery and takeout, the chain is now promoting its Ice Cream Sundae Kit, a catering menu staple, as an “edible art project” for the whole family.
Keep It Simple
The lone dessert offering on Mission BBQ’s takeout and delivery menu is Banana Puddin’. According to Brand Manager Linda Dotterer, the dessert — which has been part of the fast-casual chain’s push to promote curbside delivery, carryout and delivery options on Facebook and Instagram — has been even more popular as a dessert takeout/delivery item than it was as an on-premises dessert.
Offering simple comfort foods and dessert for takeout and delivery has been a winning strategy for operators. In fact, Uber Eats reported that banana pudding was among the top five desserts it delivered in March. Also popular: tiramisu, baklava, cheesecake and churros.
Make It Memorable
Once operators have found the right packaging to protect their desserts from the hazards of the delivery process, they shouldn’t overlook the brand promotion opportunity.
Voodoo Doughnut’s distinctive pink boxes reflect the brand’s fun personality. Now that the chain allows customers to order online and pick up their items from its bakeries in Houston, Denver, and Eugene and Portland, Oregon, that messaging hits the road with them.
Promote Delivery with Dessert
Quick-service restaurant chain Jack in the Box last year promoted its Grubhub delivery partnership with a free OREO® Cookie Ice Cream Shake (with $15 minimum order) and free delivery for a limited time.
Desserts can be an important element of an operator’s off-premises offerings, whether they are used to boost delivery or to build bigger checks as part of a fun family meal.
For more tips on how to optimize dessert delivery, download Mondelēz International’s white paper on the topic.
As off-premises consumption of restaurant foods becomes the new norm, operators are seizing the opportunity to drive incremental, high-margin sales of dessert items.
Ensuring that desserts arrive at customers’ homes looking, tasting and even smelling great can be difficult, however, says restaurant consultant Aaron Allen, of Aaron Allen & Associates. “One of the challenging things [with desserts] is that we eat first with our eyes,” he explains. “And, with some desserts, if you leave them out at room temperature for an hour, they will have a totally different flavor profile and experience than they would have if they had just come out of the refrigerator.”
For operators, learning how to best transfer desserts from point A to point B in pristine condition is a priority. In fact, 74% of them point to product integrity as their top concern when it comes to dessert delivery, takeout, and to go orders.
To ensure product quality, creating an entirely different dessert menu specifically designed for off-premises consumption may be necessary. According to data from Technomic’s 2019 Dessert Consumer Trends Report, 40% of operators say they have changed their dessert menu to include items that hold up well for delivery; 32% say adding dessert to their delivery options is a key initiative.
Rethink Every Dessert Dish
Operators who devise creative dessert solutions for takeout and delivery can drive higher dessert revenues for their off-premises business than they had for in-store sales. “It requires thinking through what delivers best,” Allen explains, noting that operators went through the same process when they began offering appetizers and entrées for delivery.
Comedor, an Austin, Texas–based Mexican restaurant known for its bone marrow tacos and authentic pastry desserts, created a new meal-kit delivery brand called Assembly Kitchen. The kit enables customers to finish cooking and assembling the restaurant’s most popular offerings — including dessert — at home.
The dessert kits give consumers a “fun opportunity to take some of the pastries that we do in the restaurant and proof them on your countertop,” says Philip Speer, Comedor’s owner and pastry chef. “You just throw them in your oven, bake them to order and have your whole house smell of fresh-baked pastries.”
The desserts come complete with links to video instructions for assembly. Both Speer and Chef Gabe Erales are available via social media to answer customers’ questions in real time.
5 Tips for Dessert Packaging
Whether a restaurant is offering simple desserts, such as cookies or brownies, or more complicated, assemble-at-home creations, packaging is crucial to successful dessert takeout and delivery experiences. Here are a few ways to make your packaging an asset to your off-premises dessert menu:
1. Keep hot and cold items apart — in separate, insulated bags, if possible. Some (but not all) third-party delivery companies are equipped with separate bags for hot and cold items. Insulated bags offer additional assurance that your items will arrive looking and tasting great.
2. Test different packaging materials, shapes and sizes extensively in-house to determine what works best. Then simulate the customer experience. Transport the item in a car — or perhaps on a bicycle if you’re serving an urban area — and let it sit for 30 minutes before opening it to make sure the item still looks, smells and tastes as intended.
3. Choose dessert packaging that’s right for your brand. Don’t send your gourmet cheesecakes out in generic, bottom-of-the-line cardboard boxes. And don’t be afraid to use the packaging to promote your brand. Include your restaurant’s logo, for example.
4. Consider sustainability. Finding compostable, recyclable or otherwise sustainable packaging can be a significant challenge but can pay off with consumers. Consider touting the eco-friendly packaging to your customers as a part of your overall brand positioning.
5. Don’t forget dessert ingredient labeling. Even though you already list the ingredients on your menu, repeat these on the packaging, if possible — especially if the dessert contains any major allergens.
By combining creativity, careful planning and the right packaging, operators can make their off-premises dessert sales even sweeter. Learn more about driving dessert sales in a takeout and delivery environment in this Mondelēz International white paper.
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