Nearly half of consumers across the demographic spectrum are looking for healthier choices in food and beverages when they eat out. Even the biggest, baddest chains have taken notice. What’s more, home delivery services like Blue Apron have stepped up to provide better-for-you meals. This kind of convenience appeals mightily to Millennials (who are 3 times more likely than earlier generations to subscribe to meal kits*). Also, grocery stores and even convenience stores are trying to boost their array of choices with nutritional benefits. What’s a restaurant to do to compete?
- Offer enough healthy options to draw customers and eliminate the veto vote
- Create appealing names for categories/dishes and compelling descriptions of items
- Build systems for convenience, so customers can grab meals from your operation
- Be aware of nutritional/menu labeling regulations
Consider the following approaches to delivering healthy options:
1) Understand Perceptions
Consumers want to eat healthier, but their attitudes and goals in this area have shifted. Their approach now is more holistic and less strict, incorporating diverse ideas like “indulge occasionally” and “be more aware of additives.” Healthy menu options – as your customer base defines them – can be as vital to differentiating your business as signature items.
2) Spotlight Taste
43% of consumers buy healthy items at restaurants just because they like them!* And with many people saying that operators have gotten better at offering options with great flavor, your chance of motivating customers with health and taste claims is improving all the time.
3) Put on a healthy halo
Promoting even one or two high-profile items can attract customers. For example, touting no antibiotics ever chicken or beef across your menu helps raise the perception for everything you serve.
4) Bring the goodies
Incorporating “good for you” ingredients can pay off. Ancient grains (like quinoa and faro) and organic greens have major credibility with many diners. Sugary and “fake” beverages like soda are being nixed in favor of 100% fruit juice- and tea-based drinks. What makes sense for your customer base? Start with specials to test menu possibilities.
5) Label by the rules
As nutrition labeling requirements evolve, check in with the FDA’s online resources to stay current (and in compliance). For labeling packaged foods see here.
6) Describe it right
Using these terms on menus can help boost sales.
For younger customers:
For older customers:
- Contains a full serving of veggies/fruit
- Low cholesterol; low sodium
7) Think fast (and portable)
What can you do to make takeaway easy? Strategies include a dedicated counter inside, a drive-through window outside, appropriately sturdy containers, even special menus. Call-ahead and online ordering may also be advantageous, for you and your guests.
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