Too much information? Top tips to avoid menu mishaps

Revenue Management Solutions Managing Director Philipp Laqué offers his take on getting a menu right for operators.

New research published by Barclaycard has revealed an alarming amount of distress among restaurant-goers as they struggle to understand complicated menus. According to the survey, 23% of UK diners have walked out of a restaurant because they found the dishes too confusing.

A further nine in 10 admitted they don’t always recognise items but a quarter are too embarrassed to ask a waiter to explain. However, 31% also said that they would be overwhelmed by a busier menu.

So how much is too much information? The trick is optimising menu structure so information is relayed in a way that’s pleasing to the eye and easy to digest.

Here are our six top tips to getting it right:

  • Section the menu so it’s easy to find favourites'
  • Give items great names that are on-brand – but consumers don’t like jargon. Keep descriptions short and to the point'
  • If an ingredient is relatively new, such as the recent trend towards more exotic spices, add a quick indication of its character or the heat it will bring to the dish'
  • Diners look up menus before they come. This is a chance to lift the lid on ingredients or dishes that might be unfamiliar. Link to short descriptions of individual items or to an image of it. Visuals of finished dishes are popular online and increase the chance of that all-important ‘like’ or ‘share’'
  • Only a minority of customers read the descriptions of more than about five items on a menu. Use a visually undemanding menu with straightforward font sizes, in colours that reflect the brand but keep text easy to read. Key dishes should be boxed out. This is the modern consumer, used to scrolling through digital content with one-finger zoom, so make it easy'
  • There’s no clear winner on format, with a slight preference for portrait menus. What we do know is, many diners prefer menus on a single page and, in fact, a short menu implies specialism and expertise, which inspires trust – particularly poignant for the anxious diner. A large, varied menu sends a warning sign to the consumer: “How can they really know how to make all this?” Keep it tight.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by QSRMedia UK. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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