It’s the hook that reels people in. According to Technomic, 41% of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 take sauces into account when deciding where to eat. Increasing the variety of condiments can attract this demographic while giving them the chance to sample new flavors. Plus, these garnishes are easy tools for customization, which more diners demand as they want to control the healthfulness and taste of their meals.
Here are some ways to step up your sauces:
- Make it signature. Exclusive or unique offerings drive the purchases of younger generations. More than 40% of consumers between the ages 18-34 are likely to order a dish with an original sauce or ingredient. For appeal across age groups, offer the classic options in addition to a special, signature sauce.
- Mash ‘em up. Think ketchup and mayo, or mayo and hot sauce. Mixing the classics together brings innovation while retaining some familiarity. Of diners aged 18-34, 45% say they want foodservice establishments to feature combinations of condiments.
- Go heavy with heat. 52% of consumers enjoy hot sauce on their foods, with half preferring “very spicy” in comparison to 26% who prefer “moderately spicy.” Jalapeño, chili pepper and garlic are the most preferred flavors, but region affects what kind of spiciness performs well. For instance, jalapeño varieties are popular in the South, whereas hot sauce isn’t used as frequently in the Midwest.
- Bring the BBQ. This fan-favorite is popular all over the country, with Kansas City and Texas BBQ sauces emerging as the most appealing nationwide. However, different regions have different preferences. Louisiana BBQ sauce is popular in the South, while Hawaiian BBQ sweeps the West.
- Go organic. Younger diners, especially Millennials, perceive organic or natural products to be better for them. Of consumers between the ages of 18 and 34, 38% say they would rather order sauces in which chefs use no artificial ingredients.
Condiments do more than enhance flavor. They allow customers to personalize their meals and for chefs to change things up without extra labor. Operators can get more mileage out of the menu without changing the base ingredients of recipes—the secret is the sauce.
Technomic Flavor Consumer Trend Report, 2019.