10 Things to Consider When Analyzing Menutrends

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As a data-driven foodservice marketer or operations manager, you need a better understanding of menutrends in order to optimize customer reach and efficiency with data-driven insights. With a wide range of competitive and evolving menu options, the success of any restaurant depends upon its ability to understand and respond to customer preferences. Once key insights are developed, a data-driven strategy should be employed to identify trends, understand market share, singularize foodservice trends and target key customers. To help you better understand how you can leverage data-driven insights to identify and capitalize on menutrends, here are the 10 most important aspects:

1. Understand Your Target Audience. This is one of the most important aspects of menu trend analysis, as it will help define the type of data source or sources you need to evaluate trends. Identifying regional differences, demographic or age preferences, or any other consumer or customer segmentation should be done in order to help focus your research. Without this key step, trends can be seen from a broad, global perspective, thus not as precise as could be accomplished.

2. Source Appropriate Menu Data. Once you have identified your target audience, it’s important to source reliable and comprehensive menu data or menus from similar establishments in your preferred region. For example, applying a geographical filter can help you analyze trends or assess market share at the state, country, or even city level. Well-sourced and adequately detailed menu data helps to provide the evidence of customer preferences you need.

3. Identify Unusual Ingredients or Dishes. As a data-driven marketer or operations manager, you should be aware of unusual or unique features of different menus. For example, tracking rare ingredients, exclusive dishes, seasonal items, and more, can all highlight key item preferences. This sort of data can help to increase customer loyalty as well as offer targeted marketing messaging to customers who have previously dined at your establishment.

4. Analyze Menu Item Time Frames. Analyzing menu item timescales (e.g. menu changes over weeks or months) can be helpful in understanding customer’s willingness to try new options or changes. This type of data can help provide context when designing new options or even seasonally-adjusted promotions.

5. Keep Track of Customer Preferences. Also known as customer segmentation, this trend analysis approach can help inform specific promotions or special offerings. Identifying particular customer preferences can help create tailored promotions, which will lead to an increase in revenue.

6. Track Seasonal Trends. It’s crucial to track changes in menu ingredients and recipes over a set period of time. This data-driven monitoring can help identify seasonal trends and allow you to create seasonal menus to capitalize upon them.

7. Compare with Competitors. Tracking competitor menus and menu changes is critical to staying ahead of the foodservice market. Without this, you can be easily outperformed by fierce competition. Comparing each menu can help inform changes in your own menu or what competitors are excelling at.

8. Identify Food Allergies & Dietary Restrictions. As restaurants have become more popular, so too has people’s awareness of food allergies, veganism, and other dietary restrictions. To ensure that all customers are catered to, it is essential to track dietary restrictions of customers. This includes tracking vegan/veggie, low/no sugar, gluten-free, and more customer-driven requirements.

9. Utilize Data-Driven Insights. To maximize the results of menu trend analysis, it’s important to take advantage of data-driven insights. By integrating AI, machine learning, and Big Data, you will be able to identify insights that would be overlooked by conventional market analysis. You can utilize these insights to streamline marketing campaigns, highlight competitive research opportunities, and uncover new customers for your restaurant and beyond.

10. Use Optimization Algorithms. By applying optimization algorithms to menu trends, you can use AI to generate new and improved menus. Data-driven optimization algorithms strive to improve menu performance by recommending specific menu items that are more likely to meet the preferences of a region’s customers.

At the end of the day, understanding menu trends means analyzing preferences, market share and regional differences. To put these insights to use, you will need to develop data-driven strategies and implement the optimization algorithms to best optimize menu performance. Doing so will help you to identify customer segments and create tailored marketing messaging that will ultimately increase both customer loyalty and revenues.