Most Customers Ignore New Food Menu Items

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With the constant variety of new foods to try in fast food restaurants across the country and the major ad campaigns touting the quality of inventive new sandwiches, it would be easy to conclude that new menu items attract customers to restaurants. Based on other data, though, it seems that most restaurant customers are scared of or simply don't want the new stuff.

According to a report from market research firm NPD, almost 70% of restaurant customers will not try new menu items. Only 17% of consumers surveyed by NPD said they would try a new menu item and 10% said they would try one of those limited-time-only food offerings.

For restaurants introducing new products, then, the odds are already stacked against them. There are some things, however, that restauranteurs can do to increase the likelihood of customers trying their new menu items.

According to the NPD report customers largely use their eyes and imagination when ordering new items, imagining how different foods will taste. Other considerations include item pricing and how healthy a new food choice is. Also, the report found that consumers tend to replace their regular orders only with something that is the same type of food.

“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, restaurant analyst at NPD. “In addition, stimulating menu-item trial and delivering a satisfying experience should lead to repeat visits and sustained customer loyalty.”

These concepts are generally more important for diners and fast food businesses, where customers are less likely to try a new menu item. For casual dining restaurants the report found that around 40% of customers are willing to try out a new food on the menu.

Image via McDonalds

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