Dairy Queen Successfully Launches Mini Treats

Consumers have reportedly responded favorably to smaller versions of Dairy Queen Blizzards, which launched last month; the company's chief brand officer says that "consumers are willing to pay a little bit of a premium" for them, which has helped operators protect their margins.

Minneapolis-based Dairy Queen is the latest company to sell mini versions of its popular offerings-and the results have reportedly been strong.

Last month, Dairy Queen-a subsidiary of Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.-began promoting a smaller version of its Blizzards, one that has about half the calories of the small 12-ounce size. Earlier this month, it also started offering a smaller milkshake.

Michael Keller, Dairy Queen's chief brand officer, told Bloomberg that downsized desserts make diners feel better about tacking a treat onto a full meal. Additionally, “consumers are wiling to pay a little bit of a premium for the mini Blizzard,” he said, adding: “That has helped our operators protect their margins.”

That's important, particularly given that Dairy Queen told Bloomberg that it expects its ice cream costs to rise more than 10 percent this year.

According to Bloomberg, restaurants are following in the footsteps of foodmakers, who debuted the “mini” concept at supermarkets about seven years ago with their 100-calorie snack packs of Oreos and Chips Ahoy cookies.

In March, Starbucks Corporation reportedly began selling a newly debuted “petite” line of mini cupcakes, whoopie pies, and lemon squares for $1.50 each. The petite lemon square has 120 calories-substantially less than the 490 in Starbucks' lemon pound cake.

According to Bloomberg, McDonald's Corporation-which makes several 700-calorie burgers-is similarly looking at ways to scale back. It is reportedly testing $1.99 chicken bites in Detroit and has promoted Angus snack wraps, which are about half the size of the deluxe burger of the same name. The efforts are aimed at luring diners during mid-afternoon downtimes.