More restaurant customers are ordering appetizers as snacks, and turning small plates into full meals, according to new research from Technomic. The market research firm reports that, with daypart lines blurring, flexible and downsized portion sizes will provide an opportunity for operators to appeal to new customer demands.
"There's great opportunity to drive menu interest via starters, small plates and sides because they're so versatile," Darren Tristano, Technomic EVP, said in a release. "These items can deliver add-on sales or can be mixed and matched to function as a meal or a standalone snack. By highlighting the shareable, fun factor of starters, small plates and sides—and using them as platforms for new and unique flavors — operators can promote these offerings as appealing menu differentiators."
The research specifically focused on the Canadian market and the report, titled "Canadian Starters, Small Plates & Sides Consumer Trend Report," includes the following highlights:
- 52 percent of consumers say that their starters are shared.
- Consumers say that most small plates are ordered either as starters (38 percent) or meals (30 percent).
- Nearly half of consumers (49 percent) say they are less likely to order an entree if it is served with a side they don't enjoy, and 26 percent choose an entree based on the accompanying side item.
- Innovative and globally inspired flavors play a strong role in starter (31 percent) and small-plate (35 percent) purchases.