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Menu Engineering Mastering the Mundane with Market Research To Profit Like Never Before

Restaurant Menu Chef at table

Restaurant Menu Item Names from Mundane to Marvelous

How important is the name of the item on your menu? It depends on how well you want it to sell. Menu engineering is something every owner should view from a marketing strategy perspective. After all, your menu is the most powerful marketing tool your business has. So many restaurant menus have the same description for common items, and they wonder why competition is so tough. Well, if you list Burgers and Fries and your competitor lists Burgers and Fries, the defining point becomes the price. Which would you rather buy, and which would you be willing to pay for? Ben’s Secret Smoked Burger and Crispy Fries or Burger and Fries. The answer is obvious, but many independent operators opt for the Burger and Fries. 

Menu Engineering is one of the most cost-effective ways for a restaurant owners and general managers to increase their earning. Menus should be updated regularly, seasonally is best to help keep your menu fresh and your patrons from getting board. You need to know what the best name for the items is. The menu is the most important marketing tool your restaurant has, and the most important written element on it is the name of your menu items.

Best Menu Item Name Test

 You need to know what the best name for the items is. The menu is the most important marketing tool your restaurant has, and the most important written element on it is the name of your menu items.

How do you know if you have the best menu item name? The best approach is not to hope or guess or just to pick the one you like the most you need to test it. You can run tests on your Facebook ad account to determine the best choice. The idea of doing market research for menu design is not a new, but it is not used as frequently as it should be or could be. A restaurant may try to give the menu item an appealing name by using things like a polls or contests on their page, the ability to generate strong-marketable data this way is highly unlikely. That approach had some merit years ago, but the social media landscape changes as often as an arctic ice flow.

Restaurant Marketing Research

In recent research presented by Hootsuite, the organic reach of a Facebook post is only 5.2%. Let me be clear that reach is not engagement. According to Influencer Marketing Hub engagement rate for the food and beverage industry is 0.05. So, what does this mean in terms of real numbers? If you have a restaurant with 10,000 followers, your reach will be 500 of those followers with an organic post, that is an unpaid post. Of those that you reach, you might receive 0.05 engagement or 25 people if your content is strong enough. If you are looking to make an informed decision about what to call a menu item, the most important part of your menu, your most powerful marketing tool, 25 people, is not enough to make an informed decision.

Digital Menu Board

Advertise New Menu Items Before Printing

Running test ads on the names of your menu items will help you determine if the name you have suggested will help or hinder sales. One of the benefits of this approach is that testing can be done quickly and cost-effectively. It is recommended that you do this before you have your new menu printed or you create your new digital menu board display. If you are looking to have the new menu item make a measurable impact, you can get an idea of the impact by measuring the results from your ad tests. The movie industry does this when they are looking to promote its movies by testing the title of the movie to its target audience. Given that the average person only spends 109 seconds looking at a menu, having a name that helps sell your new item will make every second count. The time that people spend looking at a menu is not specific to fast-food restaurants, or fine dining but acts as a general stand for all foodservice businesses, menu engineering is relevant and effective for all levels of restaurant service.

Menu Item Descriptions

There are many components to menu engineering and developing menu item names is just one aspect of it. In addition to menu item title, you can also test the written description of your menu item. You can do this by running dark posts on the Metta platform and providing an incentive to those to come and purchase it. I recommend keeping the incentive the same for all test ads. Have the same incentive means that the incentive doesn’t become a variable that skews the results but gives someone enough reason to want to make the purchase.

Burger and side for Menu Engineering

How to Set Up Your Restaurant POS During Market Research

When you are setting up the menu item in your POS have a simple description of the menu item and call it New (Burger), New (Pizza), New (drink), or whatever it is until the tests are done. If people come into your restaurant to redeem their coupon once you have completed your tests having the redemption code on the coupon say something like New Burger to avoid confusion and needless updates.

By taking this approach, you will be able to quickly test the new menu items before printing them up on your menu or spending the time on digital creation. In less than a week, you can test as many menu variables as your budget will support.

Intellectual Property for Menu Item Names

If you find that your new menu item becomes a defining part of your menu, like the Big Mac is to Mcdonald’s or the Whopper to Burger King, you may want to get the name trademarked. Getting the name registered as intellectual property will help fend off the competition and increase the value of your restaurant when you go to sell it.

Nicholls Hospitality Marketing specializes in restaurant marketing and provides a pay for performance compensation program for menu engineering for restaurants that qualify. If you are curious about how much room your menu has for optimization, we can provide an initial review for you.

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