Menu boards are critical to many restaurant and foodservice operations: customers can’t order what they can’t see. And yet, we rarely consider their impact on the bottom line. Does the type of menu board matter — a digital board vs. a chalkboard? Do consumers really want photos? Have calorie counts had an impact?

To understand menu boards, Datassential surveyed over 1,500 consumers and 350 operators for our brand new Menu Board Keynote Report. What are the issues both consumers and operators have with menu boards? Which innovations do consumers find most useful? What can operators do to create a menu board that will bump up the check average?

Some of the results surprised us. One-third of consumers said they ordered the cheapest item on the board because it was the easiest to find. The same percentage said menu boards are generally placed too high up, making them difficult to read. And only 32% of operators say that every item available is represented on the menu board. (read more…)

Consumers who think nothing of ordering their books, clothes and shoes online still often balk when it comes to buying their groceries anywhere but the store. The costs and the logistics involved in delivering perishable consumables has kept the food and beverage sector lagging other e-commerce efforts, but flexibility, personalization and omnichannel strategies are helping grocers catch up.

Only about 1% of all U.S. consumers do their grocery shopping online, but online grocery sales are forecast to grow at a 21.1% compound annual growth rate between 2013 and 2018, to nearly $18 billion, while traditional grocery sales are expected to grow only 3.1% annually during the same period, according to Business Insider Intelligence.

In the U.S., grocery e-commerce is working best in high-density urban areas where it’s more cost-effective than in sprawling suburbs or sparsely populated rural areas, said Rahul Bindish, vice president of sales for Grid Dynamics. (read more…)

The Q2 2015 Restaurant Social Media Index rankings are in!

Last quarter, Panera Bread took No. 1 for the Top 25 National Restaurant Brands of Q1 2015. This month, the artificial-ban brand falls to No. 4, and is replaced by Chick-fil-A. Check out the Top 10 list below, where we also delve deeper into the Top 3. What caused the chicken chain to be on top? And what other players have entered the national field of top brands?

How it works

The RSMI, owned by digital agency DigitalCoCo, is a social media index with domain expertise that tracks five main elements — influence, sentiment, engagement, location-based actions and mobile — across 17 social media platforms. Currently, the Index tracks more than 188K restaurant industry keywords and more than 127M U.S. social restaurant consumers in over 430K locations. Learn more about how the Index works.

Top 10 Restaurant Brands: Q2 2015

  1. Chick-fil-A: Chick-fil-A is one of those brands people seem to either love or hate.
  2. (read more…)

“We need to build a mobile app,” is one of the most terrifying phrases that I’ve heard uttered over the past six months. Far too often, brands jump into building an app simply to check the box and without a thoughtful strategy in mind. Deciding to “go mobile” with no purpose is like deciding to go fishing without a fishing pole: success is highly unlikely without hooks.

The impulse to go mobile is understandable, with more than 75% of mobile subscribers owning a smartphone and the average smartphone user reaching for his mobile phone 150 times a day (or far more in my case). Yes, not having a mobile app in 2015 is the equivalent of not having had a website in 2000. But I cringe when I hear marketers talk about mobile apps as nothing more than another “engagement” tool that simply replace the engagement tools of old. More often than not, marketers view the smartphone as nothing more than a screen that lots of people have and like to look at or a new form factor for a plastic card or a sheet of paper. (read more…)

Geoffrey A. Moore’s 1991 hit book “Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers” has become a technology industry bible for understanding the recurring patterns of the adoption of disruptive innovation. Moore breaks up the population into five groups: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. The “chasm” refers to a gap between the innovators/early adopters groups and the others. While the innovators and early adoptions are excited to try new technology for technology’s sake or to gain a differentiator from the competition by being early to adopt, the later groups are harder to convince without solid evidence and may resist technology adoption entirely until the innovation has become the de facto standard.

The principle of the innovation lifecycle and the struggle associated with crossing the chasm has been incredibly helpful to me as an innovator within the restaurant industry, thinking about the industry’s innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. (read more…)