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Creating a menu to attract restaurant guests

As dining preferences continue to change and evolve, it’s important for restaurants to know what guests are looking for and what attracts guests to their restaurant. Having a standout menu can make or break higher traffic numbers and make the most of your margins. Datassential’s Menu Development Report, Menu Magic 2024 provides insight into what drives customer visits and steps operators can take to get guests coming back.

Financial factors

Inflation is an important part of this conversation, as it has a direct impact on traffic and discretionary spending.  According to the report, wages in the United States have risen 15 per cent over the last three years, but inflation has increased about 18 per cent in that time. Additionally, eight per cent of restaurant menus received a price increase each month nationally over the last year.

This leaves many consumers with budgetary limitations that have them limiting visits to their favourite restaurants. Given these numbers, operators will need to work hard at getting to know their customers, delivering value, and attracting attention to get guests through the doors.

The meaning of value

The topic of value and what that means becomes crucial as restaurants compete for attention and dollars. As the study highlights, value is an equation involving what the customer pays and what the customer gets. Often, the focus lies strictly on the first part of the equation. Rather than simply focusing on lower pricing as a value proposition, operators need to spend time crafting an offer that prioritizes what the customer gets just as much as the price they pay.

RELATED: What value looks like to today’s restaurant guests

Innovation incentives

Restaurateurs that get creative are going to see more traffic. Datassential shows that customer purchase intent for LTOs is 52.1 per cent, so innovative menu items give people a reason to visit. Conversely, only 17 per cent of returning guests try something new from the menu on their next visit. This statistic varies generationally, with 32 per cent of Gex X more likely to try something new, 20 per cent of Millenials, 14 per cent of Gen X, and nine per cent of Boomers. This shows us that restaurateurs need a compelling offering to get guests trying something new, and that a slightly different approach may be required, depending on the target market.

Today’s competitive foodservice industry requires operators to get to know their customers, get creative with the menu, and get serious about standing out and attracting attention to drive traffic to their restaurant.