Updated: Dec 21, 2021
It’s the same old tune and carols, the same bells, trees and lights - but different.
Christmas will remain relatively unusual this year and perhaps, for the years to come.
But as with every adversary comes a silver lining that can turn the tide in favor of your cafe.
Tailoring your menu to a holiday season has proved beneficial in bringing in new customers and generating profits for cafes. As the festive season begins, coffee lovers and casual drinkers are highly likely looking for any reason to meet up with old folks or to try something new in hopes of experiencing a different ambiance. This seasonality inspires feelings of excitement, rush and exclusivity. After all, we only experience Christmas once a year. Customers want to feel that they are getting something unique, fresh and new - just because it’s in season. The idea is simple: the sense of novelty appeals to coffee lovers because it implies this is something special for that season that may be unavailable at another time.
A special Christmas menu will cater to the festive and curious mood of people who are keen to celebrate or simply find things to enjoy and fuss over. This menu - when done and marketed right - can create a whole revenue stream for your cafe and your customers will find themselves coming back next year, wanting for more.
Here in Bean and Barley, we list some reasons why your cafe should have a Christmas menu and how you can make the seasonality of the holidays work in your favor.
Stand Out with Seasonality
With a seasonal menu, marketing your cafe and raising your brand awareness becomes a straightforward task. Not only are you building up anticipation for a new menu launch with teasers and trailers posted one after another on your social media platforms. You are creating hype for your cafe and in the process, you’re drawing attention to your core offerings too.
When the D-day of launching arrives, include links in the pictures of coffee blends or menu with every post. This way, you are optimizing clicks within pictures for curious coffee lovers. The idea is that for season-long activities that last the entire Christmas, frequently post photos of seasonal menus to maximize clicks and inquiries. As the season begins to wind down, sustain interest in your Christmas menu with messages such as “get it before it’s gone,” “once a year,” “Christmas-only promos,” “limited offer for a limited time only” while still building anticipation for your next menu.
Cafes that often succeed at leveraging seasonality tend to explore outside the box when it comes to menu updates. Nearly every coffee shop will have their own version of a winter beverage but Christmas flavors are not limited to drinks. They extend to desserts and food, too.
Perhaps, the way to make your dishes stand out from other coffee shops’ offerings is to understand the availability of the ingredients in each season. Just as tropical drinks are the icons of summer, the colder Christmas season has ingredients tied to it, too. For some places, a certain ingredient might be prominent while scarce for many. You can bank on this ingredient seasonality and extend that to your marketing efforts.
You can never go wrong with exploring dishes. Experiment with all the ways you can to incorporate these ingredients into your menu and spread usage across several dishes.
What this does for your cafe branding identity is that it ties together your menu - all the way from the drinks and holiday blends down to your food.
You might find yourself at a crossroad: should I overhaul my entire cafe menu or should I just add a few specials?
Either way, a seasonal menu creates an opportunity to showcase your barista’s or chef’s creativity while at the same time bringing new guests to your cafe.
Updating your cafe’s menu on Christmas by introducing a special one not only helps your business benefit from new items. In a way, it also sets an ideal timeline for reviewing your entire menu. This can give you an opportunity to look at how items in your cafe have performed each year to identify which dishes are your “stars” (foods and drinks that are highly popular and profitable) versus your “dogs” (items that are less popular and profitable).
Understanding what has worked in the past holiday season helps you make informed decisions when creating special items for your menu, or even freshening up your current one.
Naturally, your team of baristas have to be aware of these menu changes so they can execute drinks and food with utmost precision, creativity and promptness. Staff members who serve and market your menu on the front-line must be well familiarized with the menu. They need to know every detail about the dishes so that when a customer enters your cafe or makes online inquiries and personal recommendations, they are versed with the food and drinks.
If we may suggest, perhaps a more innovative way to get everyone on board with your Christmas menu is to create a simple team building that involves all-employee tasting. The more they know about how a special menu is conceptualized, the more confident they will be in recommending it to clients.
No matter how you choose to add seasonality to your special Christmas menu, enjoy the process with your team because the more fun you have planning it, the more your loyal customers will enjoy the taste of your menu.
Inspiration, C., Cafe food trends, b., ideas, C., & ideas, C. (2021). Why seasonal menus make sense | Unilever Food Solutions. Unilever Food Solutions. Retrieved from https://www.unileverfoodsolutions.com.au/chef-inspiration/cafe360/business-tips/why-seasonal-menus-make-sense.html.
Thomason, B. (2019). How to Use Seasonality to Attract Restaurant Guests. Oracle NetSuite. Retrieved 13 September 2021, from https://www.netsuite.com/blog/how-to-use-seasonality-to-attract-restaurant-guests#:~:text=A%20seasonal%20menu%20conveys%20a,event%20to%20help%20g