How to Avoid Menu Expansion Misfires

Is less really more? Or is bigger better? This is an age-old debate with strong arguments on both sides. For foodservice operators, the question is menu expansion – should we add more, and what should we add, and how far should we go outside of our core offering?

Throughout the industry there are examples of successful additions, such as McDonald’s McCafe, but also numerous failures, including McPizza. What makes one menu expansion a success and another a failure? In this white paper we discuss five factors that determine whether or not a brand can expand their offering successfully, including:

  • Deciding whether you are appealing to customers who already frequent your establishment (an easier win), or if you are trying to draw new customers. While the latter is not impossible, it is a greater challenge.
  • Ensuring the change doesn’t break up rituals your customers associate with the brand – watch out for processes that make the experience slower, or a drastic change in cost or value perception.
  • Making sure the new offering is filling a gap for customers.
  • Taking a critical look at how the new potential platform will impact the process. If it will complicate things in the kitchen, it will require thorough onboarding. If the process changes too significantly for the customer, they may become frustrated and it may trigger a failure of a new program. Staff need the right tools to deliver a seamless experience.
  • Waiting to jump on the bandwagon. Not every trend will work for every brand, and not every trend will stick around. If it is a perfect fit, great, but if it stretches outside your brand too significantly, it is better to adopt a “wait and see” attitude, because by next year it could be irrelevant.

Adding an entirely new platform is a big investment. To give your new offering the best chance of success, we discuss these five factors in greater detail, and have provided a checklist to gauge your offering’s viability. A new menu platform can be a huge success when it is strategically developed and thoughtfully executed. We hope this article can be of use as you consider a new offering for your restaurant.

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