What Happens When You Invest In Menuing Data?

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While dishing up honey-inspired global fare for our client at a recent foodservice conference, a fellow sponsor asked me candidly, “how do you measure the success of participating in an event like this?” My immediate thought was while we won’t likely see an uptick in sales on the heels of the event, it doesn’t mean our efforts aren’t impacting our most critical business KPIs.

When it comes to uncovering opportunities and tracking the success of your foodservice marketing efforts, menuing data may be your new best friend. Event participation should be part of a broader strategy designed to target specific metrics on behalf of your brand.

Menuing Data Uncovers Marketing Opportunity and Validates Spend

Most foodservice marketers see the broader value in event participation. They expect to receive product exposure among chefs and other influencers, build relationships with media and potential partners, observe macro industry insights and potentially uncover new trends. But, these metrics are simply too soft to endorse most sizable investments. Whether a commodity board or brand, it’s often impossible to determine a direct or immediate correlation when participating in an event like Worlds of Flavor or hosting a breakout at Natural Products Expo. With pressure at an all-time high to validate every marketing dollar spent, finding a tool that can strategically drive your brand forward is invaluable to already stretched brand marketers.

Personally, I’ve used menuing data to plan, measure, and make our marketing efforts more efficient. It has helped us target the right opportunities and establish benchmarks for measuring effectiveness over time. There are several providers you can investigate to ensure you’re getting what you need. Whichever platform you choose, here are a few ways this report can enhance your foodservice marketing programs.

Become An Even Better Strategic Planner

Even the best marketing strategies need refinement. You can elevate your foodservice marketing programs and hone your strategies YOY with menuing data. A good report highlights national and regional menu penetration by category (from QSR to fine dining), across day parts, and type of menu item (appetizers to desserts). Reviewing this data annually as part of your planning process helps identify any underdeveloped areas, saturation points, trends, and more. Based on this audit/review, you can efficiently manage resources by focusing your program on the most relevant and impactful menu opportunities.

For example, if you’re seeing lower than expected menu penetration in beverages, but you’ve noticed innovation and growth in this category, there may be an opportunity to build upon existing momentum. Or, look at penetration within a certain daypart and identify market trends to encourage additional growth, or expand into new dayparts with new user applications.

Setting Benchmarks and Tracking Progress

Leveraging menuing data is part of a long-term marketing strategy and should be used consistently to measure your program’s effectiveness. At the onset of your planning process, it’s important to think about how often you’ll be reviewing data and how much time you’ll be giving your team to create your desired impact. As not all initiatives are created equal, some opportunities may take longer to achieve the intended impact. Typically, we prefer to look at data in the fall, as we move into our annual planning period. The point is, it’s best to set your S.M.A.R.T. goals and use menuing data to track incremental growth over a predetermined period of time.

Get Ideas and Content Flowing

Although the opportunity is sometimes overlooked, menuing data can also empower your PR teams and help secure additional editorial coverage. Journalists love data, as it adds texture and credibility to pitches, authenticates trending stories, and encourages better storytelling.

Fog Peets Coffee
Photo Courtesy of Peet’s Coffee

One approach is to pull specific data on keyword pairings that highlight your brand as a pivotal ingredient within a macro industry trend. This information gives your PR teams valuable ammunition and can be a deciding factor in highly competitive pitches. You can also use data to highlight emerging trends, such as ingredients like honey varietal mentions on menus (clover, orange blossom, etc.). Data may show relatively low menu penetration compared to overall growth in the category. This could be an early sign of an emerging trend and spark editorial interest.

It’s Time to Add Menuing Data to Your Food Marketing Toolbox

Like most marketing tools, the value they deliver is directly related to the time and effort you invest in learning and leveraging them. So before diving into the huge task of turning data into insights, it’s important to spend time clearly understanding and outlining what business KPIs you’re trying to impact. (Increase existing channel sales? Expand partnerships with new door exposure? Launch new markets, etc?) What’s your time frame to create your desired outcome? (One year? Five years?) And what available budget do you have to fuel any uncovered opportunities? Spending time up front setting your parameters can make all the difference on the backend. Ensuring you get the most out of this powerful tool.

From strategic planning to delivering fresh content for editorial outreach, and perhaps most critically — measuring program results, menuing data is really a foodservice marketer’s best friend. While it is an added expense, the insight it can deliver can be invaluable to marketers prepared to take action.

Andrea Schepke PR Director EvansHardy+Young
Andrea Schepke, PR Director

After serving as Managing Director in the Los Angeles and Chicago offices of Hill & Knowlton and supervising accounts like the Almond Board and Network For A Healthy California (5-A-Day) for Porter Novelli, Andrea joined us to take the reins of the National Honey Board foodservice account. Her strategically directed combination of events, media relations and advertising have helped create significant buzz in a very important market for our client.