So You Think You Can Create a Menu

Discussion
Aug 08, 2006
George Anderson

By George Anderson


On any given week, millions of Americans can be found tuning in to and voting for their favorite performers on television shows such as American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.


Bennigan’s Grill & Tavern has seen how popular these shows are and, in its own way, is looking to capture a little of that reality television magic.


Back in June, the company put eight new items up for an online vote to determine which dishes its customer would like to see added to its menu. A half a million votes later and three items, including cheeseburger egg rolls, were added to the Plano, Tex.-based restaurant chain’s offerings.


Having done so well with its earlier venture into the world of reality “restauranteering,” Bennigan’s has decided to put more new items up for a vote beginning next month.


A Bennigan’s customer, Kimberley Parker of Rockwall, Tex. is among the fans of the promotion. She told The Dallas Morning News, “What a fun promotion. It’s different. It’s better than just throwing commercials at you.”


Discussion Question: What do you think of the Bennigan’s online voting promotion and how it benefits the restaurant chain?

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7 Comments on "So You Think You Can Create a Menu"


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Kunal Puri
Guest
Kunal Puri
14 years 6 months ago

Food and drink being a topic people are much more passionate about than TV, I disagree with the effectiveness of such a plan — if the menu option I select wins, great — I will visit them more often but if my preferred option loses, I will go to a joint that has my preferred option.

All in all — some customers may become more frequent visitors but this may be at a cost where some existing customers would be lost forever… not the best way forward in my humble opinion.

Mark Lilien
Guest
14 years 6 months ago

Bennigan’s on-line voting to choose new menu items is an excellent tactic. It’s ultra low cost market research, it engages the most frequent buyers, it’s great free publicity, and it might improve sales by introducing some new menu items. Bennigan’s has little to lose and plenty to gain. Even if sales inch up only slightly, a comp sales gain of only 1% gets a huge reward in such a mature business.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
14 years 6 months ago

Just from these few comments, it sounds as if it’s working. High profile, low cost publicity. Getting customers to vote gives them a sense of ownership and some curiosity to see what the product actually tastes like — and what the ones they didn’t vote for taste like. Sure strikes me as a winner.

Giacinta Shidler
Guest
Giacinta Shidler
14 years 6 months ago

I think it sounds like a good idea but it’s not going to add new customers. I suspect that existing customers already loyal to Bennigan’s would be the majority interested in voting on new menu additions.

Charlie Moro
Guest
Charlie Moro
14 years 6 months ago

Great idea! Low cost way of getting feedback as to choices and new items. What may even more exciting is if they tie in the results of these “menu votes” with the culmination of shows like American Idol across the country and create exciting promotions around events like the Super Bowl to drive more traffic and excitement to their restaurants.

Race Cowgill
Guest
Race Cowgill
14 years 6 months ago

I agree, Mark. This is an obvious way to get valuable data from customers on items they would like to see. Bennigan’s has had a difficult time lately remaining current with its market — our data shows its target demographics are seeing Bennigan’s more and more as dated, old-fashioned, and “my parent’s place.” Our non-statistical observations of Bennigan’s responses seem to indicate that Bennigan’s has a difficult time responding quickly to important changes, and has become more rigid in the last several years. Let’s hope this signals a change for them. Let’s also hope other restaurants try this as well.

Catherine Sleep
Guest
Catherine Sleep
14 years 6 months ago

Mark has it bang-on. The company probably won’t see a marked rise in footfall through its restaurants but the exercise is a very low-cost, low-maintenance way to raise brand awareness. The ballot is getting plenty of attention, in newspapers and, heck, even forums like this, which is great for Bennigan’s.

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