LAUNCH!! – Third and Final Step of Menu Innovation
In the Ideation step, you generated a bunch of new menu ideas; in the Feasibility step, you tested the ideas for execution, financial impact, and brand appropriateness; now in the Launch step, you must introduce this item to your customer base and find out if it will really sell.
The goal of the Launch step is to give your new menu idea a chance to succeed or fail quickly. Waiting too long to kill off a new item that isn’t working will delay your overall menu innovation cycle. Successful Menu Innovation requires you to repeat the cycle over and over again. The faster and more often you repeat the cycle, the better your chances at creating a real winner. Getting good at the Launch step will speed up your cycle, so let’s get to it!
Including your new menu item among your daily menu specials is a great way to market test it. It does not require any print changes to your menu and consumer’s expect the list of menu specials to change.
Give consideration to how you promote your menu specials. Do you print menu inserts or spammers? Do you use a chalkboard special list? A verbal list from your servers at the table? As a part of the new item launch, feature your new menu item in a hot location (from a menu engineering perspective) so it doesn’t get lost among your “regular” menu specials. (Note: the Vanee marketing crew supports customers who launch new menu items that use Vanee products with menu inserts or other promotional materials. Don’t hesitate to ask.
You should also feature this “daily” special for a week or more to get enough customer exposure for the new item test. This continuous “daily” exposure test out a wider customer audience and let’s your kitchen staff learn the item prep better. Both your customer and kitchen staff insights will be better.
Launch Period Review
After you’ve put the new menu item through its paces during the test period, take a moment to review the results. To determine success, you must look at one data point: sales. Any other data or anecdotal evidence is irrelevant. Remember -> merely asking customers their opinions of an item doesn’t provide useful data, because what consumers say and what they do can be very different things, as established in much of our menu psychology posts. Your menu development process must use real life sales data to prove itself out.
Results and Decisions
If actual sales met or exceeded your average sales on menu specials, you have a winner. If the new item sold less than half of the average, kill it. If it was in between, shelve it for later tweaking and retesting.
Keeping this step simple and data drive is important because innovation is a messy business. Emotions and arbitrary judgments can easily derail a new item or keep you clinging to a favorite idea that simply isn’t working. Imposing some discipline eliminates the guesswork and keeps the process moving. Ideation -> Feasbility -> Launch. Keep what works and start all over.
This three step menu innovation process is a simple development framework. But even simple things can be hard to do. For help with any part of your process, please contact the menu development crew at Vanee. We’ve love to help you jump start your own menu innovation process.