A menu that delivers results to the bottom line is a defining element of successful restaurant chains. But what if your menu has lost its mojo? Consumers’ tastes are changing, driven by the upswing in new fast casual and independent brands that are expanding flavor profiles to meet the demands of modern consumers. In this new frontier, what once had customers raving can now leave your brand looking like a ‘food dinosaur’ to hordes of self-proclaimed foodies on the go.

So what’s the secret to a rock-star menu? Innovation is key, but ultimately, customer data is the secret to driving menus back into elite status.  When evaluating your menu, it’s imperative to understand the performance of each menu subcategory (entrees, sides, desserts, etc.), as well as to consider how the menu items fare across a barrage of attributes, including everything from satisfaction and craveability to presentation and portioning. When combined with financial metrics regarding penny-profit-per item, and menu-mix ratio the data tells a clear and compelling story about what must change.

This research approach is intuitive, yet many brands still get caught up in the trap of running from LTO to LTO trying to breathe life into a menu that has gone stale.  Recently, Market Force Information® helped a casual dining brand improve its customer satisfaction by more than 37% in 18 months. It’s insane, we know, but these changes were largely attributed to continuous research and action against a failing menu. During this same time period, food-quality scores jumped more than 29%, a remarkable gain that put food back into the spotlight for the customers of this brand.

The art of asking the right questions, and engaging a critical mass of customers is a great way to get your menu back on track. And with it, regaining consumer confidence, and igniting the fires that drive customer satisfaction and repeat visits. If you’re involved in the restaurant industry, consider following Market Force’s Restaurant Insights page for more research highlights and to join discussions about the latest news and trends: https://www.linkedin.com/company/restaurant-insights-from-market-force.


Scott Griffith is Vice President, Executive Business Strategist at Market Force Information. Scott consults with client executives to design strategies that foster growth for companies in early stage ventures through IPO and beyond.