Leveraging Cookies for Customer Loyalty

By Luke LaBree 🔎
CMO, Dennis Paper & Food Service

Your next cookie sale is just an impulse purchase away… A brief look at how impulse purchases can increase customer loyalty.

Superman’s weakness is kryptonite; a consumer’s is discretionary spending.

Whether you call them guests or customers, whether they’re grabbing-and-going or checking out after a sit-down meal, they all have the same weakness… the allure of strategically placed impulse purchase items.

An impulse purchase refers to a customer buying an item that they did not originally intend on purchasing from an establishment. This can be anything from grabbing a new air freshener during your vehicles routine oil change to buying the extended warranty for your new flat-screen. In foodservice, impulse purchases most often involve satiating a customer’s sweet tooth.

While Superman suffered at the mere presence of kryptonite, today’s foodservice customers experience the opposite effect when given the opportunity to snatch up an impulse purchase. Sure there may be some post-purchase guilt, especially if that purchase involves a heap of frosting sandwiched between two cookies, but in the moment that impulse purchase is a welcomed arms-reach from their place in line. In fact, those reaches could add up to $5,400/year in additional consumer spending.¹ Discretionary purchases that are yours to capture!

Making an impulse purchase isn’t just satisfying, it’s human nature.² We’ll skip the evolutionary biology at play here; how the release of chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins go to work rewarding your customer’s decision to wrap their hands around a mega whoopie pie. We’ve all been there, we’ve all seen it…

At the end of your meal your server asks the question that you know is coming “Did you save room for dessert?” For myself, and I’d venture to guess most of us, the almost automatic response is “No, thank you.” However, deep down we really do want a sweet treat. Cue the impulse purchase! At the host station is a display of desserts to choose from and boy are they tempting… But the check is already totaled, we think to ourselves, so why go through the hassle? Luckily, this establishment has trained their host staff well. “Can I add anything else for you while I ring this up?” And there’s our window – we reach for the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. No host station? Servers check guests out? No problem. A well-trained server knows to offer… “I can bring the check right over, and just so you know, we have a number of desserts packaged and ready to go.”

At lunch you pull into your favorite convenience store to fill up, grab a slice of pizza and a cold Pepsi. While you’re waiting to pay you notice the customer in line ahead of you anxiously glancing around the store. They’re either getting ready to rob the place or they want something else. They’re in a hurry and they don’t want to lose their place in line. When they reach the register a basket of freshly baked cookies greets them. Without hesitation they snatch two and smile at the cashier “I’ll save one for later.” “Sure you will!” comes the cashier’s cheeky response.

Scenarios like these play out every day and everywhere in foodservice. Customers pay, and move on with their day, having accomplished what they came in for. As operators we have the opportunity to elevate that experience to an even higher level of satisfaction with impulse purchases. The best part is that customers are taking it upon themselves. The final decision is in their hands; literally if your placement is good.

In addition to the physiological gratification received during those first few bites of an extra gooey triple chocolate brownie, the brain chemicals released into their systems ensure your customers are imparted with a stronger sense that their needs will be completely satisfied by your establishment. Yes, well placed impulse purchase items will not only increase your profits, they can increase customer loyalty as well.

With dozens of product options available to sweeten profits for operations of all types and sizes (including labor saving ready-to-bake items or unique creations customized from mixes) increasing sales and customer loyalty at your operation could rest in something as simple as a fresh baked cookie.

1: CNBC “Consumers cough up $5,400 a year on impulse purchases”; Sarah O’Brien; 2018
2: Psychology Today “Five Reasons We Impulse Buy”; Philip Graves; 2013