The question of menu engineering is the same question surrounding advertising in general: Does it work?
The answer to this question is much easier to ask than it is to answer. And the answers are varied depending on what it is you’re advertising and to whom you are directing your advertising.
But here are a couple of important points to remember from studies that have been done over the years on advertising. According to Kaul and Wittink (UCLA School Of Management), 1995, price advertising increases price sensitivity and leads to lower prices, which explains the price lists effect on menu items and relative check totals dropping as a direct result of leading a menu with a price; conversely, point-of-purchase materials tend to decrease price sensitivity when properly arranged.
All this is dependent on the product itself. According to no less than half a dozen experts on the subject ranging from Olson and Dover, Smith and Seinyard, Tellis, Wright and Lynch, all point out that product usage experience dominates advertising influence on beliefs, attitudes and behavior. So while you can offer a wonderful story about a product along with a photograph, if the actual product doesn’t resemble the description and photo, the patron will not believe you’re telling the truth in future instances.
Think you can write descriptions yourself? Maybe you can, but then again, is it worth the risk? A well-written product description can increase sales of an item by 30%, according to NBC Today. By any measure, this is a lot of potential income for your restaurant that cannot be left to chance.
And while you may think you know your products better than anyone else, and that may even be true, the fact is, you don’t write as many menus as a professional design-engineering firm like HotOperator. With several thousand menus of experience, they have written menus for every restaurant style in more than half a dozen countries, all with a high level of success. Beyond that, the experience has been tested by the results of the success of the menus that have been placed on tables. In those cases, HotOperator menu descriptions, when coupled with proper highlighting and in some instances photography have resulted in significant increases in popularity of purchase.
The results vary from a low end of about 5% to a high end of more than 35%.
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