If your healthy kids’ menu is a flop, here’s how you can fix it.
It’s time to admit that the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell Program isn’t working as well as we had all hoped.
Plenty of national concepts signed up for the program, and many made a sincere effort to address the problem. But a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine suggests that industry efforts in this area have been largely ineffective.
Researchers reported that years after the program’s inception, participating restaurants have made almost no progress reducing calories, saturated fat or sodium.
But why isn’t your restaurant’s healthy kids’ menu working? A few reasons, but we can help you fix it:
- Instead of creating new dishes, you tried to fix existing ones.
It’s a lot easier to drop a few ingredients and reduce the portion size in an existing dish than create a new one. The only problem is that when you reduce the fat and seasonings and the size of your dish, you also reduce the flavor and popularity. We recommend designing your new menu items from scratch. It’s better to introduce a new flavor profile than offer an old one with half the flavor.
- You surrounded your healthy menu items with unhealthy choices.
Most restaurants have only added a few healthy kids’ dishes to their menus. So when parents and their kids look over the menu, the healthy menu options are either hard to find or, even worse, hard to like. Rather than bury them in the middle of your kids’ menu, lead with the healthy items and call them out with appetizing food photography and descriptions.
- You forgot who your audience was.
Most healthy kids’ menu items look like they were designed for nutritionists, not kids. You can change that by getting input not only from your nutritionist but also the moms and dads and kids you need to please. Our experience is kids like colorful food with simple ingredients. They also want it to be fun to look at and eat.
These are just a few of the ways we are helping our clients get their kids’ menu back into shape. What are you doing to improve the popularity of yours? Please write and tell us about it.
Gina Lee De Freitas has 15+ years marketing the restaurant industry. She is the Chief Operating Officer/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency.