Boost Profits with Seasonal Flavors

Studies show that seasonal beverages produced higher checks.Tap into the seasonal flavors market to stimulate sales and bring in new business.
The pumpkin bandwagon has arrived, and it’s time to jump on. (Photo: Anna_Pustynnikova/Shutterstock)

If you own a food business, sticking with the same old flavors and products season after season can get a little stale. On the other hand, embracing seasonal flavor offers can spur additional purchases by established customers, bring in new customers, draw customers from competitors and stimulate business during slow periods.

The NPD Group, a market research firm, studied whether seasonal and holiday flavors like pumpkin spice were more than just trendy. The company analyzed receipts from more than 35,000 diners to track consumer purchase behavior.

Their findings: Seasonal beverages produced higher checks. During fall and winter 2014, the average check for pumpkin latte buyers was $7.81 compared to $6.67 for non-seasonal buyers.

Many people consider a pumpkin spice latte to be an “indulgent” purchase, so most purchasers (72 percent) bought it just once. But about 20 percent bought it twice, and about 8 percent made three or more purchases during the offer period.


Changing up flavors according to seasons can boost business. (Photo: praphab louilarpprasert/Shutterstock)

“Considering the battle for traffic share in the restaurant industry, it’s critical to offer unique, craveable menu items that attract both new customers and keep current ones coming back,” says Bonnie Riggs, a restaurant industry analyst with NPD Group. “For the restaurant operator, seasonal beverages have a positive impact on visit frequency and check averages as consumers tend to purchase food along with the seasonal beverage. It doesn’t get much better than that.”

So how can you apply this research to your business? In a word: experiment. Customers may not love every new flavor you create, but they do love variety, and they don’t want to be bored.


Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt released its Pumpkin Spice Latte Swizzle this year. (Photo: Orange Leaf)

The pumpkin spice latte frozen yogurt at Orange Leaf, a self-serve frozen yogurt chain with more than 300 locations, is one of the company’s most popular flavors. “Just as the leaves start to change, guests begin asking when it will be in store,” Karen Porter, Orange Leaf’s vice president of marketing, told NCR Silver.

To capitalize on that popularity, this year Orange Leaf introduced the Pumpkin Spice Latte Swizzle, a blended dessert that takes flavors and toppings of the customer’s choice and mixes them together. It’s the company’s way of keeping its bottom line healthy after summer has ended and flavors like Strawberry Serrano Lemonade Sorbet and Spa Day Sorbet have been retired.

“Both flavors furthered our mission of celebrating originality,” Porter said. “And, while not every customer agreed that they were their favorite flavors, everyone could agree that the flavors were totally different from the ‘sea of sameness’ they’d see at other froyo stores.”

If falling leaves and cooler weather aren’t enough inspiration to change up your menu, consider the many off-the-wall holidays dotting the calendar to spark your creativity. This month, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts released two limited-time doughnuts — The Pirate Doughnut and the Skull and Crossbones Doughnuts — in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day. That’s in addition to Krispy Kreme’s new fall line of doughnuts and beverages, which include the Pumpkin Spice Cake Doughnut, Salted Caramel Latte Doughnut and Pumpkin Spice Latte.


Krispy Kreme’s fall flavors include pumpkin spice and salted caramel. (Photo: Business Wire)

“Each year we always look forward to the classic flavors of fall,” said Jackie Woodward, Krispy Kreme’s chief marketing officer. “Our fans crave these seasonally inspired treats, and the pairing of a Pumpkin Spice Latte and one of our doughnuts makes for the perfect comfort food as the weather starts to cool down.”


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