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What is menu engineering?

Posted: 4th February 2019

     

Your restaurant’s menu is your number 1 generator of sales. Menus and display boards have unexploited sales potential which menu engineering can optimise. Largely ignored by traditional marketers, this innovative tool generates a substantial improvement in restaurants’ average orders and margins. What is menu engineering, then? And how does it work?


Menu engineering is a technique that reinvents restaurants’ menus and display boards to optimise their sales. We are not talking about replacing current meals, their composition, or the restaurant’s philosophy! Chefs and restaurant owners are the best people to propose meals and services that suit their vision, while menu engineering uses neuromarketing, price optimisation and customer-experience. Once employed, these techniques lead to a powerful and efficient change in a menu’s structure, its layout and the way pieces of information are displayed on it.

Previous-generation menu engineering aims to categorize different meals and beverages based on their contribution margin and their popularity. This way you can easily identify the most profitable meals and also those that require more selling effort.

Yet, it is essential to go beyond this limited phase of identification to apply a corresponding tactic that will improve your margins and average orders. How can new-generation menu engineering improve these two essential dimensions of your profits? By developing and reinventing your menu and display boards through four tactics:

1/ PRICE OPTIMISATION

Optimising prices allows you to increase margins and to avoid losing sales opportunities. Decreasing the price of a meal does not automatically translate into more sales. Conversely, raising the price of a meal will not automatically decrease sales. Fast-food and gourmet restaurants follow different rules regarding pricing strategy and price presentation. By carefully analysing any meals’ profitability to determine a price optimisation tactic, you will 1) reach a wider variety of clients, and 2) avoid losing sales opportunities and revenue related to sub-optimal pricing.

2/ NEUROMARKETING

So far you have improved margins by optimising prices. The second step will consist of guiding your customers towards the most profitable meals and beverages. To this end, neuromarketing is crucial for your price optimisation strategy to be a success. Also called ‘customer psychology’, neuromarketing uses the way our brain takes decisions to guide your customers in their choice of a meal. By increasing the popularity of meals with the highest margins, neuromarketing generates higher profits. This is achieved through reinventing the way information is laid out on your menus and display boards, and through improving their structure.

3/ STRUCTURE
The structure of your menu or display boards is the cornerstone of your menu engineering strategy. Price optimisation and neuromarketing requires restructuring your menu to achieve efficiency. The structure and organisation of your menu are crucial to guide your customers in their choice of meals. A carefully-built structure will also contribute to a better customer experience.

4/ CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Unsatisfactory customer experience results in less sales and missed repeat business. I better repeat this twice for emphasis: you need to understand your customers’ needs to please them and generate successful sales. For these reasons your menu has to follow basic ergonomic principles. For example, information on your menu and boards must be displayed in a way that customers’ brains will process with ease and accuracy. That may sound simple, but many menus and display boards are nothing but puzzles to be solved by your customers. Most menus do not anticipate customers’ queries and automatic reasoning. The fluency with which information can be explored by your customers is a crucial determinant of their satisfaction.

Are the menus or display boards of your restaurant optimised? Find out with the brand-new and FREE tool developed for you by CogniMenu, the 1st new-generation menu engineering service in the UK! Click here or on the link below to analyse your menu!


Dr. Morgan David

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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