In 2014, is it still relevant to offer milkshakes on your beverage menu? That depends on your target market, current menu and business location. If you sell hamburgers, we will give you a firm answer YES! If you have a drive-thru and you currently offer soft-serve, we say YES! If your establishment draws a family crowd, we say YES! Not identifying with any of the situations we described? Consider equally profitable iced beverages or smoothies.
The key to increasing sales for both milkshakes and other frozen beverages is offering a product that the consumer perceives as too difficult or not as good if prepared at home. Denny’s, coined as America’s Diner™, experienced firsthand how adding new coffee and milkshake flavors could increase the bottom line. They attributed their increase in guest check averages to their expanded beverage menu selections.
Make Room for Milkshakes
First, if you already serve soft serve – milkshakes are an easy addition. According to MINTEL’s “Trends in Snacking and Value Menus in Foodservice-U.S. June 2012” , 19% of consumers typically order shakes as a snack. The most popular age group who order shakes is ages 18-24, which translates to 1/3 of the beverage market. The profitability margin is outstanding with shakes. We estimate your cost to a couple pennies per ounce for an 8 ounce serving. Each bag of shake mix yields approximately 59 milkshakes or 472 ounces.
With shake mix…if you can imagine it, you can make it. Premium milkshakes attract consumers craving something outside of the traditional chocolate, strawberry and vanilla milkshake flavors. Mixing in candy, cookies, flavored syrups, fresh or frozen fruit, peanut butter, or protein powders add more variety to your milkshake menu. A spindle blender will marry anything with vanilla soft serve and mix it to the perfect thick and creamy consistency that milkshake lovers crave. The cost of the added ingredients ups your food costs a bit, but with a higher menu price, your profitability is still looking great. Another idea for milkshakes that is trending in foodservice is offering alcoholic shakes. According to a recent USA Today article, Red Robin is offering Wine Shakes made with wine, vodka, mango puree and vanilla soft serve. The price tag for these doubles or triples that of the non-alcoholic kind.
Move over Starbucks
What about the lure of coffee-flavored beverages? If your business attracts customers throughout the day looking for a filling snack, you should consider offering Iced Cappuccinos. An added bonus; people like iced coffee beverages year-round. Our dry mixes, Mocha or French Vanilla flavored, are blended with water or milk to produce a rich and creamy coffee flavored frozen treat. The only equipment you need is a good blender or a granita machine. According to Coffee Talk magazine, the average margin for a frozen beverage ranges between 65% and 70%.
If you want more affirming facts on increasing sales, look no further than your nearest convenience store. According to NPD research, iced and slushy coffees have been growing by double digits for the last five years. Convenience Store Decisions reported that in 12 months, iced coffee alone grew 7% and frozen slushy sales increased by 14%. Think of the growth that McDonald’s saw when they began offering flavored iced coffees. Add a little whipped cream and drizzle with chocolate or caramel sauce and you have yourself a craveable snack.
When to Add Smoothies – A Sign of the Times
Anytime! We think adding smoothies to beverage menus is smart. Messages bombard us everyday about healthful eating, disease prevention and obesity. Smoothies, especially fruit smoothies, exude the perception of “healthy”. Frostline Simply Smoothies™ base mix is low in fat (2 grams), sodium and carbs and has zero grams of cholesterol. A trend that we don’t see diminishing is the one focused on kids eating healthier. With the new governmental regulations coming down on school lunch and the awareness of the new food guide, “My Plate”, parents are paying closer attention to what their kids eat and buying healthier foods. Fruit smoothies fit that bill. Packaged Facts, a leading source in food and beverage market research, expects sales of kids’ food and beverage to grow to a $30 billion by 2018.
Regardless of how you choose to expand your beverage menu, we encourage you to do just that…EXPAND! A little extra goes along way when grabbing the attention of new customers or retaining old ones. In this world of hustle and bustle, fast casual and convenience, chill customers out with refreshing, cold beverages.