Recession-Proof your Menu
In today's economy, diners place value as a top priority. Here's how to give it to them without changing your playbook.
Although some segments in foodservice show signs of recovery, it is still being hit hard by the recession. Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based restaurant consultancy and research firm, recently revised its 2010 U.S. foodservice industry sales forecast downward. One of the factors in revising its report is consumer frugality when dining away from home. "We're seeing a shift from weekday to weekend dining," says Sara Monette, senior manager of consumer research for Technomic. "So, instead of quick-and-easy eating out on a Tuesday or Wednesday, consumers are waiting for the weekend, and making it more of an event to dine out, and when they dine out, value is the determining factor." As for the near future? David Henkes, vice president of Technomic, weighs in, "Given current dynamics among consumers, we don't see the industry returning to the sales levels it previously enjoyed until 2011 or even early 2012."
How can restaurants thrive in this environment?
Restaurants need to offer a strong value proposition to lure diners, says Monette. "According to our research, the family-dining segment is doing a good job of accommodating diners looking for value. These restaurants offer a sit-down meal with a varied menu," she says. "That variety is key in eliminating the veto vote. They're also offering a good mix of price and size options."