How to Build a More Powerful Menu
“Rustic” and “artisan” are in. Menus that only subtract are out. And “power” trumps “skinny” for restaurant owners who want to attract men and women customers.
So said Nancy Kruse, a consultant to restaurants who spoke at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago this week.
“This year there are some very real changes afoot” in consumer preference and hence menu development, said Kruse, a principal at The Kruse Co. in Atlanta. “We are right on the cusp of changes in your customers’ demands and expectations.”
“Foods with benefits” tops her list of trends. “Yesterday it was all about subtraction. Take it out—salt, fat and sugar,” she said. “Today it’s the addition model: put it in, the fruits and veggies. Tomorrow will bring the defined benefits model. What’s it do for me?” the customer wants to know.
She believes Taco Bell’s Power Protein Menu, now in its test phase, hits all the right notes, marketing items with 20+ grams of protein and fewer than 450 calories.
Likewise, Panera Bread offers its power menu. “There’s a sense that skinny foods are for women. Men, you may feel more comfortable with power,” she said.
There’s even Powerful Yogurt, a new Greek yogurt brand geared to men and marketed with a picture of a buff male torso. “Find your inner abs,” the headline declares.
Customers also want “real” foods, she said, listing many adjectives trending today: organic, natural, rustic, authentic, local, crafted, farm-to-table, artisan—even if no one knows exactly what each of those means.
“Small is beautiful,” Kruse said, “and fresh is the No. 1 most powerful driver of menus” today.