New Menu Item Challenge

NPD dishes on what dishes work best and where

NPD new foodservice menu study

CHICAGO -- Restaurant operators invest heavily in promoting new menu items, but most consumers (about 70%) won't try a new menu item, while about 30% of consumers will, reported The NPD Group; 17% of these "early adopters" will order a brand new menu item and 10% will try a limited-time offer item, according to the findings.

Consumers try a new or unfamiliar menu item based on their perceptions of its taste and visual appeal, but they also may consider healthfulness and price when making the decision to try a new item, found the NPD report, "Menu Item Trial: Motivating First-Time & Repeat Orders." Generally, consumers tend to replace their pre-planned menu item with a new menu item only if the new item is in the same food type as the product they had originally planned to order. The exception to this is snacks, where any other food type has an equal chance of being replaced, NPD said.

A first-time menu item purchase during a restaurant visit occurs less frequently at quick service places than at full-service restaurants. The highest incidence of trial of a new or unfamiliar menu item occurs at casual dining places, which, according to NPD, relates to the quality/freshness of the ingredients used in the menu item, the item being a good meal accompaniment choice, and the ability for diners to share the menu item with others. Half of the new menu items ordered is main dishes while sandwiches make up almost half of the remaining new items ordered.

"Insight into the reasons why consumers try a food or beverage menu item that they have not purchased before provides restaurant operators with the knowledge required for successful product innovation, introduction and marketing," said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant analyst. "In addition, stimulating menu-item trial and delivering a satisfying experience should lead to repeat visits and sustained customer loyalty."

The NPD Group, Chicago, provides global information and advisory services to the automotive, beauty, entertainment, fashion, food, foodservice, home, office supply, sports, technology, toy, video game and wireless industries.