Testing Restaurant Menus with Web Survey Software

Posted on : August 8, 2016 - by :

One of the specialized kinds of research you can conduct with sophisticated web survey software that doesn’t work well with most other forms of data collection is testing restaurant menus.  In this kind of testing you can present an image of a menu online and ask people to choose items from the menu by clicking on the items in the image.  You should have the option of displaying the person’s order alongside the menu.  You should have the further option of choosing whether or not to show a running tally of the cost of the items selected.  Your program should also let people remove items from their order.

You can show different people menus that look different, for example with longer or shorter or no item descriptions or different visual layouts, to see if the different appearances lead to higher or lower total purchases.  Does displaying the menu items in one column, two columns or three columns result in the largest orders?  What about using different type sizes or different amounts of space between items?  Does showing more items on fewer pages or fewer items on more pages work better for your restaurant?  What about different background and text colors?

You can even vary the total number of items offered on your menu to see whether offering more choices results in higher orders.  You can’t just assume that more is better.  Many studies have shown that giving people too many choices can result in fewer purchases than fewer choices – up to a point.  What is the right number for your place?

Another common kind of menu test is to vary the prices shown, instead of the visual presentation to see if lower prices might prompt people to order more items, resulting in a larger total order – or conversely, to see if you can raise your prices without having many customers reduce the number of items ordered, resulting in higher profits.

One technical issue is that your web survey software should be able to display menus as they are displayed in the restaurant.  If the menu has multiple pages, the program should show only as much as patrons would normally see at one time, while providing buttons for some other way for people to turn the pages in the menu.