Trends in Restaurant Menu Design and Marketing

Restaurant Menu Design

Menu design always seems to be changing.

Your restaurant menu can make or break your restaurant. (tweet this) Your menu is much more than a list of dishes. It is one of your prime marketing tools and your main communication piece. Sometimes restaurant owners put the development and design of their menu at the bottom of the to-do pile. Don’t get caught in this trap.

Put your menu at the top of your list while paying attention to current trends in menu design and restaurant marketing. A creative menu can elevate your restaurant above the competition.

Your menu creates your customer’s initial impression before they’ve even ordered a drink or appetizer. Depending on the length of your menu, your diners will review it for up to 10 minutes, but most often they’ll only look for two minutes. It’s important to maximize your impact during that time.

According to Frank Castronovo, your menu is everything. It’s what describes your product. In this blog post, we’ll help you be one of the restaurants that uses the menu as a marketing tool and gets it right. You’ll learn about recent trends in restaurant menu design and marketing and watch your profits grow.

Let’s discuss a few of the new menu design trends beginning now and continuing into 2015.

Dining Farm to Table

The farm to table concept gained traction in 2014, and restaurant experts agree it will continue into 2015. In many areas of the country, diners have latched on to the idea that fresh and local is the only way to eat. Restaurants that source ingredients from area farmers are seeing a rise in profits.

While it seems counterintuitive, the farm to table concept is still “exotic” to many diners, and they are excited to see what this trend is all about. As an added benefit, the food just tastes better. Eating local, area food means your ingredients are fresher and haven’t been sitting on a truck for days. If you haven’t started sourcing local ingredients, now is the time.

Another trend driving the farm to table movement is the new desire in many American communities to support the local economies. This in turn benefits everyone by promoting economic growth.

Additionally, 2015 brings a renewed interest in being environmentally conscious as well as health conscious. The farm to table concept allows diners to know where their food comes from while making health conscious food choices.

Once you’ve added these ingredients, it is vital to promote this on your menu. Make sure to highlight farm fresh items on your restaurant’s menu in-house and online.

Moving from Millennials to Generation Z

Restaurants have been ceaselessly trying to grab the attention of the millennial generation that is so dedicated to social media. These Millennials, sometimes called the Demand Generation, have wanted instant gratification. While this trend will continue, restaurants will very shortly have a new concern.

While similar to the Millennials, Generation Z is the group of American teens beginning to make their own decisions about where they go to eat. To satisfy this crowd, restaurants should continue to market online menus. In turn, they’ll need to provide high-tech service, electronic menus and an exaggerated dining experience with unique and creative menu offerings that challenge diners.

Expanding on Technology

This new technology generation leads us to one of the newest trends – the electronic menu. Today’s world demands efficiency. Trends show that diners want an easily accessible dining experience along with healthier food. Restaurants find their service can be more efficient when they incorporate digital technology.

By presenting menus on in-house tablets or on smart phone apps, customers are able to take care of their needs with more immediacy. The server still plays a vital role, but now diners can be in charge of their menu ordering and their payment. If customers are ordering their own food, we bet you won’t have to redo misplaced orders or orders with errors!

Gone also are the precious minutes spent waiting for the bill or waiting for change. Your tables will turn over faster by eliminating the downtime your customer’s experience while waiting to get and pay their bill. Customers begin to lose patience during this time. You want to avoid this as you want the customer’s last opinion of your restaurant to be a positive one. A tablet at the table or smartphone app allows them to pay and leave in a timelier, and happier, manner.

Every restaurant should also offer online menus. This allows customers to make reservations, order pick-up and delivery, and in some instances, pre-order their food.

As with all things digital, this trend will continue to change and develop over the next year. Do your research and take advantage of some portion of the digital trend.


Designing Shareable Plates

Restaurant Menu Design Marketing

Say goodbye to the “super-size plate.” Today’s diners are looking for smaller, more shareable plates. There are two reasons behind this new menu trend.

First, diners want to cut down on portion size, and they want to eat healthier. Offer smaller sizes on you menu, and diners may even end up ordering more food so they can share and taste more items.

Secondly, diners are intrigued by the modern “family-style” dinner. The shareable plates allow diners to eat “family-style” and taste a variety of your menu items. Tapas style restaurants are thriving in 2014 with the ability to offer their diners smaller portions and more variety.

Consider adding a shareable plate section to your menu and encourage diners to try this creative trend full of variety.

Incorporating Fanciful Cocktails and Non-Alcoholic Creations

If your restaurant serves liquor, you’ll want to capitalize on this trend for 2015. Restaurant-goers are looking for shareable punches, flavored whiskey, hybrid drinks and herbal liqueurs. They are on a quest for the unique and something that sets your restaurant apart.

On the non-alcoholic front, the healthy trend continues. Offer herbal shakes, cucumber and coconut waters, artisan coffee and cold-pressed juices on your menu.

Now, let’s visit the topic of your physical restaurant menu design – this is the one your diner holds in their hand. Some new trends that affect the visual layout of your menu include:

  • Keep the menu simple, clean and easy to read.
  • Ditch the capital letters.
  • Use typography to highlight items.
  • Keep your fonts bigger than 12 points to accommodate all vision styles.
  • Nostalgia, natural materials, and an artisan aesthetic are all “in.”
  • Tell a story. Farm to table? Describe the farmer, his farm, etc.
  • If your menu offerings are health conscious, make sure your menu is printed responsibly. Be sure to note that on the menu to increase your customer’s loyalty to your restaurant concept.
  • Try a regal header at the top of your menu and make sure to include your logo.
  • If your menu changes daily or weekly, offer paper menus.
  • Big, accurate photos sell dishes.
  • Don’t use dollar signs.
  • Let guests see the whole menu at once. The tri-fold is on its way out.
  • Your dessert menu should always include the five c’s: caramel, chocolate, coffee, citrus and cheesecake.
  • Don’t put your desserts on the main menu. If you do, diners may skip the appetizer.

To conclude, you’ll find a lot of menu design trends as we move into the New Year. Feel free to try one or several. The most important thing to remember is your menu is the core of your restaurant marketing.

Your menu is the only marketing piece that every one of your customers will read. (tweet this) Use your menu design – both the design of the individual menu items and the physical design – to sell your restaurant, its atmosphere and its food.

If you don’t currently post your menu online, look no further! We’d love to get you up and running in a few short days! Request your free website consultation today!

Images: Jun Seita & Semio

4 responses to “Trends in Restaurant Menu Design and Marketing”

  1. lootoss says:

    In my opinion, how design menus in the restaurants success, is effective..لامپ کم مصرفکرکره برقیکرکره برقیراهبند اتوماتیکاقامت ترکیه

  2. Your post is very great!..So informative, I’m gonna try this. Thanks for sharing.

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