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EXPERT SPEAK

Teeny Weeny Menu More

Tuesday, December 17, 2019, 14:48 Hrs  [IST]

The reason for success or failure of a restaurant was rightly attributed to three major aspects- Location, Location and Location. But today, this is no longer valid. Considering the way Cloud and Dark kitchens function; they can be 'located' anywhere and they serve you where you are 'located'. We can safely toss out of the window, the location advantage and replace it with three other aspects Menu, Menu and Menu!

From the Menu is born many, if not all, success contributing aspects; take a look…

Brand Name: If you are curating a Chinese menu it follows that the name would normally be Chinese – sure, you could experiment with a non-Chinese sounding name but that would be like trying to go with Wong's South Indian Eatery; although I have come across Singh's Chinese!!!

Brand Positioning: The dishes on the menu, portion size and prices would lead you to the positioning (price point and value offered) and thus the target audience.

Packaging: Would be as per the target audience and naturally the dishes on the menu.

Delivery Radius: Again linked to the menu items and for how long they will hold, keeping in mind not just the temperature but the bite/mouth-feel when they arrive.

You get the message - 'Location' is no longer the brand maker; 'Menu' is. I guess entrepreneurs and restaurateurs have still not been able to make this mind-set shift or have not realised the impact. Menus are still long and exhaustive, mixed cuisine menus are still the order of the day, and dishes are still curated keeping in mind table service and plate presentation only; Recipe for Failure. And while you may run a Dine-In eatery along with Take Away or Home Delivery format, the guest is now used to seeing Menus in the online format. And when he finds it's not, his sub conscious mind will trigger negative feelings towards the Brand and Food. So the tips provided below hold true even for Dine In restaurants.

Short Menus accompanied by visuals per dish. The more the dishes, the more the confusion the guest faces, "what should I order?" This may result in the person looking at another site. "Less is more!" is definitely the mantra. The audience can't see your kitchen or smell the food so the food photograph in the menu needs to convey the message keeping in mind the Target Audience. Everyone is 'apparently' health conscious. So, avoid the shine and sparkle of oil, vivid colours work, and do it with props appropriate to the message you want to convey.

Separate Brands, Separate Menus: In case of multi cuisine outlets – no issue if the address of both Brands/Cuisines (Chinese and Indian) are the same. Surfers are more likely to trust a Brand that's called Singh's Kitchen for Punjabi Dhabha food and Afzal's for Biryani and the ordering strike rate would definitely be better. For the dine-in too, there is no issue if you have two food brands under one roof but offer separate Menu Cards online and the physical copy too.



Make Brand Values Come Alive: Photos on the cover, side or back cover of the menu make the guest 'feel' your brand values. A photograph of a clean kitchen with well-groomed staff makes for good communication and professionalism. If staff are picturised with hairnet and gloves while using tongs to lift or pack food; the message we are conveying is one of hygiene. Visuals of fresh greens and vegetables sends the strong healthy messages.

Impactful Words: Few but well placed words in the content add or detract from the impact. Avoid words like fried, buttery, creamy and rich – if you want to convey healthy and you could replace with baked, light, fluffy… these send the health aroma out. A professional will use, some tricks which may appear totally stupid but they actually work, e.g. the Rupee sign is kept small as compared to the numbers next to it, this takes away the 'money' component of the communication and makes guests less money conscious.

In the final analysis what's important to realise is that it is not just the actual food, service or location that makes or breaks the brand. What does make the maximum impact is your Menu; product offering and the way the promotion is done.
So, Me says, "Menu maketh the Brand."

The views expressed within this column are the opinion of the author, and may not necessarily be endorsed by the publication.

 
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