Even in the not-too-distant past, menu transparency was an option for restaurants. However, it’s become an imperative. According to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, 86 percent of all consumers demand menu transparency. As customers’ prioritize this information when choosing a restaurant, it is becoming increasingly critical to boosting sales and maintaining a competitive edge.
Here are four reasons customers demand menu transparency and how you can provide the information they are looking for:
1. Customers want the facts on artificial ingredients.
One of the top items on the menu transparency priority list is information about artificial ingredients. Consider the statistics: the Technomic report revealed that 72 percent of consumers are more concerned about additives in their food now than in 2014. And some 40 percent of consumers polled for Technomic’s 2016 Future of LSR: Fast Food & Fast-Casual Consumer Trend Report stated that natural claims on menus would heighten their inclination to dine at fast-casual establishments.
Menu transparency around the use of artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors in your menu items demonstrates your business’ sensitivity to these concerns. If you have decreased your use of artificial ingredients, get the word out — on the menu, on your website, in social advertising, or promotional material. It can build trust among customers and reinforce the message that your food is healthy and fresh. All of these factors can help drive additional purchases, cultivate repeat business, and encourage health-conscious consumers to return.
2. Customers want fresh ingredients sourced locally.
Promoting the fact that your restaurant uses ingredients obtained from local sources as well as ingredients that are fresh rather than frozen also can help build customer loyalty. Many customers prefer to spend their dining dollars at restaurants that support area farms and other nearby small businesses. Furthermore, environmentally-conscious customers will appreciate that excess fuel and energy was not used to transport ingredients from distant locations. Use locally sourced ingredients when you can.
3. Customers want calorie count and allergy information.
Menu transparency related to calorie counts is important for several reasons. Your customers may want to make more informed choices about calories they are consuming, but moreover, it’s now required for many businesses. Even restaurants that are exempt from laws mandating menu transparency regarding calories can gain a competitive edge with the increasing number of health-conscious consumers by providing this data.
In addition, as more and more children and adults are suffering from food allergies such as milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish, being transparent about common allergens in menu items can help keep customers healthy and also earn their trust as a safe place to dine.
4. Customers want to know you aren’t harming the food ecosystem
For many consumers, menu transparency means going beyond addressing the content and even the source of menu items, to include impact on the food ecosystem. These customers want to see information on restaurants’ sourcing strategies and the sourcing strategies of their suppliers. Information about food rescue and composting, recycling, and other environmentally-oriented efforts is appreciated as well.
Today’s consumers are becoming increasingly educated about everything they purchase, and dining out is no exception. Through menu transparency you can provide the information that your customers are seeking, that they care about, and that could tip the scale in your favor when they decide where to spend their dining dollars.