Staying ahead of consumer and market trends is an important part of keeping your customers happy, but it can also be very time-consuming. We have access to the industry’s most trusted resources – and we’re dishing up a few of the top trends right here so you can spend less time researching and more time building a more profitable burger menu.
Who says burgers are exclusively a guy thing? Women crave juicy, flavor-packed patties as much as their male counterparts, but in different ways. Discerning female diners usually take a pass on the traditional bacon cheeseburger, but jump at the chance for a more adventurous taste experience. Explore these bold burger ideas to wow the women in your customer base.
Add a healthy spin
Let’s talk turkey – It’s always a winner with the health conscious, so substitute a turkey patty into your fan favorites.
Slim it down – Skinny buns and slider patties will help you send the “better choice” message.
Go naked – Strip away the bun, pile on all the toppings and serve on a bed of greens for a lighter, more virtuous burger.
Think upscale and exotic
Goat & tomato combo – Try goat cheese paired with roasted red tomatoes for a more distinctive, upscale topper.
Mix up a margarita burger – Combine mayo, tequila, garlic, lime and orange juice for a sauce with an enjoyably tangy bite.
Pickle it – Add a chopped veggie slaw topper for a cool crunch. Try pickling Napa cabbage, red bell pepper, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and rice wine vinegar.
Ketchup that jams – Ditch the plain tomato ketchup and craft a plum or peach ketchup—or a sweeter tomato jam jazzed up with cinnamon and all-spice.
Create side dish delights
Sweet potato halo – Achieve the “better for you” aura with sweet potato fries. Make them yours with a quick dusting of Caribbean jerk seasoning.
Crisp jicama slaw – Julienne jicama and green apple, then mix with cilantro, rice wine vinegar and lime – a perfect pairing for a turkey patty.
Tempura-battered green beans – Fry green beans dunked in a tempura batter (made with club soda to keep it light and airy) and serve with a zesty Sriracha mayo.
With Millennials coming of age and technology offering instant access to new information, cultures and experiences, it’s no surprise that authentic ethnic ingredients are in hot demand on menus. In fact, the global-flavors phenomenon is #1 on Technomic’s list of top food trends for 2016. Well, we’ve got one continent covered for you! Check out these clever Asian-inspired burger ideas – no airfare or passport required.
Tastes of Korea
Heat up the ketchup – mix a little gochujang, a chili soybean paste, into your traditional ketchup for a spicy burger spread
Whip up an addicting dip – thin out some gochujang and puree with softened golden raisins for a dip that’s great with burgers and fries
Spin a kimchi slaw – kimchi by itself may not suit your guests’ palettes, but a coleslaw with a hint of this Korean staple is hard to turn down
Try on a kalbi marinade – soy, sesame, garlic and sugar produces a succulent flavor profile perfect for a BBQ sauce or glaze
Jet-set with Indonesian Flavor
Spoon on a sambal cream – sour cream mellows this intense Indonesian red chili paste for a deliciously smooth sauce, nicely complemented with grilled scallion
Brush with sweetness – brush your burger with ketjap, Jakarta’s sweeter, more delicious version of soy sauce, right before pulling it from the grill
Pack a Thai Punch with Sriracha
Splash on some fire – Millennials love heat, and a quick squeeze of sriracha gives them the subtle burn they’re craving
Create a mild mayo – mix cool mayo, hot sriracha, tangy lime and salty soy sauce to craft a mouthwatering custom condiment
Glaze on some sweet spice – calm the heat of sriracha with a burst of honey for a delectable glaze
Want more daring burger ideas? Explore our LTO Concepts section and get inspired!
In addition to creating crave-worthy burgers, you need to know how to name them to get the biggest return on your culinary love and labor. Great names reflect the character of the burger but also carry a little panache – to generate the memorability that leads to repeat visits. When naming your burgers, remember these tips:
- Know thy brand: make sure the name reflects the “tone” of your restaurant – if you run a family diner, you should stick to more wholesome names, but bars can be a little more edgy
- Leverage ethnicity: studies have shown that if you give a dish an ethnic label, guests will rate it as more “authentic,” so use this technique to make your burgers stand out
- Get personal: including the names of the chef’s grandmother, a local celebrity or a longtime patron makes items seem more appealing and intimate and taps into the hot “food with a story” trend
- Showcase ingredients: highlight the unique or on-trend ingredients featured in your burgers – whether it’s Vermont Cheddar, Angus beef or trending Indian and North African spices
- Use shock value: take an underperforming item and rebrand it with a more attention-getting name (one chef transformed an “Apple Beet Raw Smoothie” into “Blood” – and saw sales skyrocket!)
- Keep it short: remember, it’s “advertising” as much as a burger name
- Try alliteration: use words starting with the same letters (e.g., “Billy’s Black & Blue Burger”) – it adds to the burger’s personality and makes the name fun to say
- Go big: patrons want to know they’re getting a great value, so highlight your “jumbo” patties, or brand your sharable sliders not as “minis” but as fun “burger poppers”
For more naming inspiration along with some fun burger recipe ideas, visit our LTO Concepts section.
In the U.S., beef has never been a go-to protein for breakfast. However, the tables are turning as burgers are becoming acceptable morning fare—and diners are eating it up. In fact, 36% of millennials consider burger-for-breakfast concepts highly appealing, and 21% of consumers already choose a burger for brunch at least once per month.
It’s easy to keep your burger menu aligned with this change in trends. Just “breakfastize” the burger by mixing traditional breakfast flavors with the beef patty. Cook up ideas beyond a fried egg—including carriers, condiments and common breakfast ingredients—and you’ll have a trendworthy concept that guests will shout “up and at ‘em” for.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.
For more inventive burger ideas that millennials and other consumers will crave, visit our LTO Concepts section!
Source: “Burger Consumer Trend Report,” Technomic, 2015
Millennials are changing the game
Today, 79% of consumers say that “a good value” is very important to them in deciding where to eat. But as Millennials start to flex their spending muscles, guest expectations are changing and the meaning of “value” is evolving. Smart foodservice operators with an eye toward the future are tapping into this movement and redefining the “value” they offer to their patrons.
It’s no secret that twenty-something hipsters have unique, non-traditional demands. Sure, the price-to-food ratio is important; in fact, according to Technomic, 66% of restaurant guests say higher prices have changed their behavior and/or loyalty. But quality – not just quantity – matters, too. To keep your operation on-trend and buzz-worthy, especially in the face of rising food costs, you need to get creative to deliver on their needs.
From “great price” to “great experience”
Only about 50% of consumers in each major foodservice segment – QSR, fine dining, fast-casual and more – are “highly satisfied” with the value they receive. Your patrons are no longer just looking for a good deal. Millennials and savvy guests want more than a food transaction – so you need to transition from offering a great price to generating a great experience for their food dollar. The new value equation includes factors beyond price, such as delivering:
- Distinctive taste and quality of foods and beverages.
- Unique, premium ingredients – especially locally sourced fare.
- Signature dishes – standout LTOs that they can’t find anywhere else.
- Build-your-own meals – the ultimate in personalization, allowing guests to craft the exact taste experience they’re craving.
- Sharable dishes that bring everyone in on the fun – 46% of Millennials want small plates or ethnic street food, driving an 80% increase in small-plate menu options since 2013. Satisfy their “small” appetites with clever burger slider concepts featuring TNT™ 2 oz. beef and Angus slider burgers, such as:
- Memorable customer service and amenities
- Ambience and other value-adds
Want more burger inspiration? Get clever burger ideas in our LTO Concepts section!
*Technomic Menu Monitor
Restaurants proudly showcase use of “unfit” ingredients
We all know that consumers who care about environmental responsibility will support brands in line with their passions. Now you can tap into the “sustainable cuisine” trend to expand your appeal and drive new traffic. This burgeoning movement focuses on minimizing food waste by cleverly using ingredients previously thought to be “ugly” and “unfit” – such as misshapen vegetables and breads.
It’s one of the fastest-growing trends in foodservice, driven by some alarming statistics on food usage. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 40% of food in the United States goes uneaten. That translates to more than 20 pounds of food per person every month, with a total value of $165 billion per year! So it’s no wonder why both Technomic and Nation’s Restaurant News list the “trash to treasure” sustainability movement on their “hot lists” of what to look for in 2016.
Chefs lead and socially conscious consumers follow
In truth, the “waste-not” mentality has always been in the DNA of most chefs. From using discarded veggies to add depth to simmering stocks, to taking a “nose to tail” usage approach to meats and fish, chefs are forced to be creatively frugal to maximize value. The current societal buzz around sustainability simply helps to shine a brighter spotlight on this movement.
Forward-thinking chefs are taking the lead, reimagining dishes to include “unusable” ingredients in fresh new ways. Dan Barber, executive chef of Manhattan’s renowned Blue Hill Restaurant, temporarily transformed his establishment into “WastED,” a pop-up concept focused on a menuing theme of food waste and re-use. WastED boasted 10,000 dishes created from:
And in the fall of 2015, Barber combined culinary forces with Sam Kass (current Senior Food Analyst for NBC News and former Senior Advisor for the White House’s Nutrition Policy), to create a mouthwatering menu consisting entirely of “waste food” – and served it to 40 world leaders meeting at the United Nations!
In addition to other earth-minded restaurateurs across the US, international retailers are driving the trend as well. French-based supermarket Intermarché introduced “Les Fruits & Légumes Moches” (Inglorious Fruits & Vegetables) to push sales of less-than-perfect but entirely edible produce and appeal to the eco-conscious.
Bringing it around to burgers
So how can you leverage this trend to bolster your burger lineup and create mouthwatering burgers that are more satisfying and more sustainable? First off, remember that with TNT burgers and our other patty brands, you’re always getting 100% yield with no waste or leftovers. But we’ve also dreamed up some clever ideas on how you can surround your patty with “ugly” ingredients and transform “unfit” into “ultra-flavorful!”
Rethink your carriers
Get creative with condiments
Smarten up your sides
Re-think your throw-aways and re-inspire your menu. Try using “wasted” ingredients as another way to create signature burgers that your guests crave!
Leading a revolution in healthy eating
With today’s quick-click access to virtually any tidbit of information on foods and their nutritional values, more consumers are waking up to how protein can drive a healthier lifestyle. They’ve dumped the all-or-nothing “low-carb diet” mentality and are viewing, and eating, proteins in a smarter way – one that delivers functional benefits and fuels better fitness. In fact, according to Datassential, protein is a key component to the latest evolution in “healthy” eating:
- Healthy 1.0 – represented by “low fat” and “high fiber” – evolved to…
- Healthy 2.0 – feel-good items that are “local” and “farm fresh” – which is evolving to…
- Healthy 3.0 – “functional foods” including protein, “energy foods” and “super foods”
Protein has risen to the top as one of the most popular characteristics of the “healthy eating” paradigm, which now looks like this:
- “All natural”
- “Low calories”
All the “pros” of protein
Consumers are seeking out proteins to help them tap into a variety of functional and lifestyle benefits, including:
Powering up your burger menu
According to Datassential, “protein” now appears on 44% more menus than in 2010. That jump has been driven by more than burgers, and more than meat – including classic items such as eggs and poultry plus alternative sources such as whey and nuts. So here’s your opportunity: more of your guests may be protein seekers, so why not build a burger menu beefed up with “protein” descriptors? You don’t need to go overboard, but if you have a protein-packed burger offering, play it up and shout it out!
Craving more protein-powered burger ideas? Explore these concepts on your menu and keep your finger on the pulse of the protein scene:
- Egg it on: Add a protein-rich cooked egg, plus bacon, on top of your patty for exponential protein power
- Get meatier: Go mega-meaty by layering on other savory selections, such as pastrami, pepperoni or chorizo sausage, to add depth and achieve standout flavor profiles
- Lettuce have it: For a healthier, carb-less spin on your burger, slice it up and lay it into a luscious lettuce wrap
- Turkey tantalizer: A quality turkey patty is one of the more wholesome proteins out there, and another great way to take your menu to the lighter side
- Bolder builds: Reinvent your burgers by incorporating other in-demand proteins such as almond or cashew nut butters, chopped nuts, quinoa, avocado, Greek yogurt, mushrooms or black beans
Get creative! Explore other premium burger builds with off-the-charts protein appeal, and give your guests one more reason to crave your menu and boost your reputation as a burger destination.
Limited-time offers (LTOs) are a hallmark of success in the restaurant world. Restaurants of all sizes and kinds, from small mom-and-pop diners to national chain power-players, leverage LTOs to stir up buzz and sales.
We’ve got the dish on the magic of LTOs and all the deets you need to ensure your LTOs are cravetastic.
FOMO and why LTOs work
The secret to why LTOs can create excitement and pad your profits lies in another acronym: FOMO. This is the “fear of missing out.”
We humans are plagued by the anxiety of missing something special—whether it’s a get-together with friends or that knockout burger creation that’s been the hubbub of social media. It’s this “get it before it’s gone forever” urgency that fuels the success of LTOs and explains why they can be a boon to your bottom line.
Fun for customers, great for operators
Consumers love LTOs. In fact, nearly 50% of them ordered an LTO in the past month, according to a recent report from Technomic*. But your customers aren’t the only ones who enjoy LTOs. Operators like you can reap some rewards, too. Here’s how.
Explore and experiment – LTOs give you your own testing ground for new, trending flavors and formats without committing to changing your menu. You’ll gain insights into what’s a smash hit with your customers, so you can keep your burger offering fresh and power up the appeal of your menu.
Take seasonal tastes to the bank – Tempt customers with the flavors of the season. Win big with a pumpkin burger LTO in the fall. Give a cranberry turkey burger a go during the holidays. And in the summer, say “aloha” to a Hawaiian burger topped with ham and pineapple.
Keep your seats full – Give your biggest fans a reason to come back again and again—and lure in new customers, as well. Play to their FOMO with irresistible flavors and imaginative concepts.
Make your menu stand out – LTOs can be key to differentiating your restaurant from the one down the street. Leverage your flexibility as a more nimble establishment to churn out desirable dishes, capitalize on trends and outmaneuver major chains.
Get people buzzin’ – Chatter matters—and you can pique interest in your burger menu with LTOs. Offer a totally unique, “say what?!” concept that begs your customers to tell their friends.
5 ways to ensure your LTOs hit the mark
Want your LTO to be a chartbuster and not a disappointing dud? We thought so. Follow these five tips to ensure your LTO game is on point.
1. Strive for uniqueness – It’s about quality, not quantity—and craveability is the name of the game. Focus on putting out the most burgerlicious dishes you can and outshine your competitors.
2. Keep the offer end date vague – LTOs shouldn’t last forever, but don’t clue your customer into when they’ll disappear. This will encourage them to take advantage of the LTO now rather than put it off. Resist extending their expiration, too. If your LTOs always turn into menu mainstays, customers may not take your next offering seriously.
3. Price at a premium – LTOs have a “special” factor, which your customers will happily pay for. Preserve your margins or add on an extra 5% and do more for your bottom line.
4. Spread the word – You have to get the word out. Harness the power of social media and in-store signage for easy promotion vehicles. Don’t forget about the influence your wait staff has on your customers. Instruct them on how to talk about your latest LTO and entice customers to order.
5. Beware of LTO overload – Too many LTOs can limit their uniqueness and power to draw in customers. Keep the focus on your core menu, but offer just enough LTOs to intrigue customers on a regular basis.
Need some LTO inspiration?
We’ve got you covered. Visit our LTO Concepts page for craveworthy burger concepts that will do your menu proud and establish your restaurant as the best burger joint around!
Source: “Winter Flavors and the Importance of LTOs,” Technomic, 2015
Marketing to millennials is the new “it” thing in the food world, and rightly so. They’re our nation’s largest generation, which means they deserve a proportionate amount of attention on your menu. But it takes a special kind of burger to satisfy their cravings for unique creations.
Who are the millennials?
They were born between the early ‘80s and the early 2000s, representing an age group that spans very different stages of life, from smartphone-happy high school teens to grown adults raising families of their own. While they grew up in boomer households, millennials’ values and interests certainly stand apart from those of their parents. Despite having the tendency to watch their bank accounts pretty closely, millennials collectively influence more than $500 billion in spending power each year.
They are generally technology savvy and naturally proficient with social media. In fact, social media isn’t an option for millennials; it’s the glue that keeps them connected to friends and family. Clever operators can tap into millennials’ social habits with dishes that are not only delicious but offer mouth-watering presentations that must be shared online with friends, too.
Millennials are also an ethnically diverse bunch that’s in-tune to worldly cultures, social affairs and travels, which explains their adventurous nature when it comes to food. To help give your menu extra sizzle, we’re taking a look at what’s hot with millennials’ burger preferences today.
Now that’s #spicy
It’s no secret that global flavors are in, and millennials are a daring generation that seeks one-of-a-kind tastes and flavor combinations. Take their taste buds on a savory world tour with a spicy sriracha ketchup, or top a juicy patty with your house-made take on kimchi. For an Instagram-worthy burger experience that’s #spicy, challenge millennials with a burger lathered in buffalo sauce and pile on a scorching, sweet mango-habanero coleslaw.
Divvy it up
As a generation that lives for the hustle and bustle, millennials are big snackers and often dine out with their social circle. Try minifying your popular burger concepts into sharable plates to appeal to group-diners and their wallets. If your restaurant has a take-out menu, consider offering the convenience of portable snack-size items that millennials can take with them on the go.
Let’s talk turkey
Health is a big deal for millennials, but they’re susceptible to cravings like everyone else—and burgers and cheese are two of their favorites. Don’t be afraid to swap the traditional beef for a delicious turkey patty. It still packs in succulent flavor that’s easily dressed up with your favorite seasonings along with classic and creative burger toppings, yet offers a “better for you” halo that appeals to millennials. When asked, 30% of millennials say that the availability of non-beef burgers is important when dining out.
Ad Age, a leading source of intelligence in marketing and media, says millennials “place an emphasis on the importance of organic and fresh” and also value social and sustainability causes. Try giving your burger menu an environmental-focused spin with locally sourced cheeses, sauces and produce. This is a cause millennials are psyched to support!
When it comes to millennials and their food, one thing is certain: they’re always looking for something more. In the ever-changing burger biz, it pays to stay tuned in to the on-trend flavors and styles they crave.
Kerry, Meet the Millennials
Technomic, Inc., The Burger Consumer Trend Report (2013)
The burger—that delicious, iconic American staple—is still going strong in 2014. Crafty operators are leveraging popular flavors in their creations to drive big burger demand. A new report from Mintel illuminates what will be hot this year.
Take it upscale
Sandwiches, including burgers, were the most popular menu section in January 2014. But burger lovers don’t want just any old burger. They’re looking for a “better burger” and want to be wowed by adventurous, top-tier tastes. Step up burger appeal with premium ingredients or bring a unique spin to classic toppings. Not surprisingly, “better burgers” warrant higher prices, helping to enhance your profits!
Sautéed baby Portobello mushrooms with a creamy Boursin cheese perfectly complement fresh-from-the-grill burger flavor. Excite bleu cheese fanatics with a melted slice of bleu paired with a splash of balsamic, sprinkling of green onions, rosemary aioli and peppered bacon. Talk up your recipes, too—emphasizing beef quality and house-made ingredients in your menu.
Let’s get indulgent
For some, the burger symbolizes an unending quest for the next innovative creation to conquer. Don’t be afraid to bring a taste of adventure to your menu and challenge guests with an indulgent LTO concept. Have Cajun seasoned fries? Pile them high under the bun. Serve a lot of meat lovers? Stack a multi-patty burger or put bacon in the spotlight. Want to get crazy? Halve a donut and use it as a bun, or spice things up with a smokin’ hot Sriracha mayo.
Top burger flavors
What flavors are your peers cooking up? Spiciness and heat continue to dominate the burger world, and BBQ, peppered and honey flavors are on-trend now, too. The following flavors have seen the largest gains across burger menus from 2011 to year-end 2013.
% Change 2011–2013
Better for you
While it’s no secret that burgers are a comfort food, astute operators can leverage their craveability and appeal to the health-conscious at the same time with “better for you” (BFY) toppings. Today, the word “fresh” signals quality and great taste. Use “freshly sliced” avocado to cool down a spicy Frank’s Red Hot Sauce glaze. Turkey patties work great for BFY appeal, too—they’re up 27% in popularity from 2011 through 2013. For a light burger that hits the spot, top a turkey patty with sliced tomatoes and a dollop of feta, mint, scallion and fat-free yogurt sauce.
Ditch bland buns
It’s time to think beyond standard white bread, oat and sesame seed buns—because boring doesn’t sell! Class-up your burger with a ciabatta or brioche bun. Make it a craveable guilty pleasure with on-trend pretzel bread. You can also give it a healthy twist with a gluten-free option, or nix the bun altogether for a butter-lettuce wrap.
Source: Mintel, “Burgers—Moving from an American classic to a contemporary dish,” 2014