Price wars and loss leaders in US mega-chain fast food locations are a quick shot in the arm to increase sales. But a more successful strategy makes consumers happier by encouraging healthy and appetizing options on the menu. An example is the "skinnylicious" menu at The Cheesecake Factory, where beautiful photography and appetizing descriptions make the healthy offerings seem more like a reward than a dutiful chore. A full 58% of diners indicate that healthy options are a motivating force in their menu choices.
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Excerpt: "Restaurants can no longer afford to price-slash their way to growth; they must also find innovative ways to attract these health-conscious customers by giving them what they want. If they don’t, they will be missing out on the biggest growth opportunity in decades.
But this doesn’t mean dropping their most popular items. They don’t need to ban burgers and other high-calorie foods to lure in these customers. Indeed, even the 'well-beings' occasionally crave something indulgent. Taco Bell didn’t give up on tacos when it introduced its Cantina Bell menu, which along with its bargain-priced Doritos-based tacos helped it outperform its peers last year. Dunkin Donuts didn’t jettison cream-filled donuts when it introduced its highly popular turkey sausage breakfast sandwich, which comes in at under 400 calories. Sbarro’s reduced-calorie pizza slice is one of its top sellers, but the chain still offers traditional cheese and pepperoni.
Moreover, consider that past growth engines for the restaurant industry posed little threat to their core menu items. The wildly popular combo meals introduced in the 1980s were just a different way of bundling old products. McDonald’s introduced its breakfast menu in 1971 after a Santa Barbara, Calif., franchisee invented the Egg McMuffin. Breakfast eventually became McDonald’s second most profitable time slot, topped only by lunchtime, and the new breakfast menu did not compete with the burgers and fries.
Like breakfast foods and combo meals, lower-calorie menu items are the next big wave, and restaurant operators needn’t choose between 100% healthy and belt-busting. But they should realize that the 48% of customers who don’t care about their eating habits are not growing their businesses anymore. They need to change their menus and marketing to woo the other 52%."