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Diners Value New and Unique Flavors in Restaurant Dishes

How important is flavor to restaurant diners? Technomic says “very.”

For some years now, we all know how restaurateurs have been trying to strike a quite unsteady balance between low price and some degree of profit margins just to keep operations moving. Technomic says that the best way to differentiate a brand and at the same time keep costs under control is to focus on flavor, after having found out in a recent study that consumers highly value unique flavor experiences when they visit restaurants.

Technomic’s EVP Darren Tristano says that incorporating distinctive flavors into a restaurant’s existing menu is an effective way to distinguish the brand. “Lowering price points can only do so much, and it might make you completely lose your profit margins. Unique flavors will work– it doesn’t cost much could attract new diners to your restaurant and thereby increase sales,” he added.

Such advice sprung from the findings of a study developed by Technomic called the 2011 Flavor Consumer Trend Report, which is aimed to keep a pulse on the industry’s flavor trends during cooking and those that are added in dips, condiments and sauces.

Highlights of the results include:

Consumers prefer to visit restaurants which have innovative and new flavors. 53% said they are more likely to dine at eateries with new, distinctive flavors in their menus in elegant menu cover.

Consumers love flavor varieties in their pizzas, like hot, sweet, spicy, smoky and fruity flavors. While it is true that customers are especially partial to classic Italian tastes in their pizzas, other flavors dominate the scene, too. Such flavor varieties can help restaurants differentiate their signature offerings.

Consumers appreciate the preparation style done by restaurants in adding flavor to their food. 81% of consumers surveyed said so, reflecting how preparation style has increasingly become popular from 2009 to 2011.

Unique flavors found in the sauces, condiments, and spreads of restaurant menu items strongly appeal to consumers. This voice from 61% of the respondents indicates that there is an opportunity for continual development of house-prepared, signature spreads and sauces.

The 2011 Flavor Consumer Trend Report evaluates restaurant consumers’ flavor inclinations, attitudes and purchase behavior based on a survey of more than 1,500 respondents. The study has a section called “Menu Insights” which makes use of Technomic’s Menu Monitor, a trend-tracing tool that provides the restaurant circle thorough insights at how the top, independent, as well as emerging chains incorporate their leading flavor profiles into their menu items in superior menu cover. Included in the report are flavor preferences in entrées, beverages, desserts, snacks and appetizers.