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Who else wants a menu that shows and sells like an advertisement, a billboard, a social media feed? – Menu Design & Engineering, Part 1

It is nearly a 100% certainty (as long as a table is available) when someone comes into a restaurant they will purchase something. The question then becomes ‘what will they order, and how much will they spend?’. From an operational perspective, what impact will their purchase make on the restaurant’s profitability.

The extent of what they purchase largely depends on two on-site factors:

  • Menu
  • Waitstaff (if a Quick Service Restaurant, the menu has full responsibility)

Before waitstaff have a chance to share drink and entree specials, there is a window of opportunity that is solely dependent on the menu. And it is the full responsibility of the menu to educate and influence a purchasing decision.

As a caveat, the menu’s ability to influence and educate is also closely impacted by pre-purchase events that may significantly ease the menu’s sole burden to guide a patron to a decision.

The presence of social media, online reviews, and user generated content as product awareness and consideration events may play a significant role when a customer is at a table browsing the menu. The quality of the awareness and consideration events (quality of food photography, the ideal rating, reviews, and overall ease of content access and discovery) directly impacts not only consideration (when someone is planning mealtime, e.i. where to go), but also when they are on-site looking at the menu.

The menu is not a trivial document to be used as a vehicle to cram as much information as possible into. But rather, an advertisement, a billboard, a social media feed engineered (if done correctly) to help educate and influence a customer’s purchasing experience.

The menu is the No. 1 tool… . Menus are the purest form of your restaurant’s strategic marketing plan.

Tom Feltenstein

CEO, Feltenstein Partners

Quick and Easy | Do-it-today Takeaways

  • Make menu engineering a top priority
  • Treat the menu design and menu engineering same as any other thought-out advertising or marketing campaign
  • If someone needs to wait – give them a menu! Begin the process in-advance.
  • QSR’s with designated customer lines may have an opportunity to display-and-take menus at the beginning of the line. Keep in mind user experience – the customer is waiting in line, therefore they have more time to peruse the menu. Which affords more time and menu real estate to get creative with the menu.


Published - December 21, 2021

More on this topic…

How Emotional Menu Descriptions Affect Your Customer’s Appetites: Insights from Psychology and Neuroscience – Menu Engineering Part 4

How Emotional Menu Descriptions Affect Your Customer’s Appetites: Insights from Psychology and Neuroscience – Menu Engineering Part 4

The psychology of emotional menu item descriptions is a powerful tool for restaurants looking to create a more compelling and memorable dining experience. By incorporating emotional language, storytelling, sensory language, and authenticity into their menu descriptions, restaurants can engage diners on a deeper level and create a connection that goes beyond mere words on a page.

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