According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2013 Industry Forecast, 72 percent of adults say they try to eat more healthily than they did two years ago. Consumers are growing more and more health conscious, and when making dining choices it is essential for them to know they will at least have a healthy option—even if that isn’t what they end up ordering.
Highlight Your Low-Fat and Low-Calorie Options
For many restaurant concepts, catering to healthy eaters is no problem. Traditionally, “healthy” foods are considered to be foods low in fat and low in calories. According to FDA regulations, any food being used in a health claim cannot have more than 20 percent of the daily value for fat, cholesterol, or sodium. So, if your restaurant serves meals that fall into this category, consider putting them in a tiered healthy menu section, or highlighting them with a health symbol on the menu.
Adding healthy snacks is a great way to enhance revenue. Between meal restaurant visits are on the rise, and consumers are looking for healthy and convenient options. Especially in QSR markets, mothers will often take the family out for a meal and order nothing for themselves (source). Offering small, healthy options increases the options for mom or dad to order a treat as well. These small additions to the menu provide an opportunity to increase individual checks substantially.
Highlight Other Potential Health Claims
The new trend toward healthy eating has many restaurant operators a bit worried, as low-fat and low-calorie items don’t lend themselves to every restaurant concept. However, even for operations that aren’t traditionally considered healthy, there is a host of possibilities for marketing to the health conscious consumer.
According to the NRA, locally sourced foods are projected to be one of the hottest trends in 2013. More than seven out of ten consumers report that they are more likely to patronize a restaurant that uses local goods. Local foods are seen as fresher, and therefore healthier, than frozen items. Even if you serve high-fat hamburgers, serving them with local beef, lettuce and tomatoes will increase perception of health benefits.
Other health claims that can be used include: natural, organic, low carb, low sugar, low sodium, gluten-free, high fiber and vegan or vegetarian. Any of these claims has the potential to entice health conscious consumers, but you’ll have to figure out what works best for your business. Call for a staff meeting with your servers to find out what requests customers are making. Look for trends and look for ways to incorporate items on your menu that are in line with the more popular requests. Customer comment cards are also always a great and direct way to find out what changes or additions your client base would be interested in.
All in all, a health-focused marketing campaign is about reaching out to more potential customers, but also increasing the satisfaction of your current customer base. It is essential not to alienate your customers while catering to the nation’s salad lovers, so see what kind of health claims you can swing without sacrificing your brand. Test out new options with limited-time offers before making permanent changes to the menu, and utilize customer feedback tools to assess what works best for you.