Can you feel it in the air? It’s officially almost holiday season – a time that most everyone gets excited for. Introducing limited time offers, or LTOs, to your menu are one of the best ways to harness that excitement and drive incremental business throughout the holiday season. It’s important to be aware of the many factors that make an LTO successful. Here are some tips on how to make an LTO work for you:
Do some research first. Think about your best selling dishes and what customers love about them. According to a survey by NPD, the top 3 influential factors in LTO purchase decisions are that the item included likeable ingredients, looked delicious and sounded good. Keep these drivers in mind while figuring out what to introduce to your menu.
Get your customers involved. Many restaurants ask customers on social media to vote for a dish or item they want to bring back, and create elaborate countdowns to the end of the offer. This is a great way to discover what your consumers are craving.
Bring favorites back. If you have a dish that you retired a while ago, this is a great time to bring it back. John Costello, president of global marketing and innovation for Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., says that consumers like “the familiarity of their old favorites with a little dash of risk”. A LTO is the perfect opportunity to fulfill this desire.
Don’t make it more complicated than it has to be. The easier LTOs are to describe, promote and sell, the better. For example, Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte is seasonally appropriate, limited in nature and easy for customers to recall, increasing likelihood of anticipation for LTO’s from the brand year round.
Be unique. According to Business Week, Warren Solochek, vice president of client development at NPD, a market research company, says “Often, there’s so much clutter on the menu boards, it’s hard for people to see there’s a new product. If you want to bring something new to a consumer, you really have to make it stand out”. For example, Wendy’s 2013 pretzel bun promotion was successful because competitors weren’t offering anything similar. Consider an LTO a testing ground for something new.
Embrace the ritual. Fast food chains have found that LTO’s are more attractive to customers than deals, says Wall Street Journal. Among the 250 largest chains in the U.S., limited-time offers have increased 25% over the last five years, according to the MenuMonitor created by Technomic, a food consulting and research firm. For some, these offers are more than just a limited-time special; they have become an annual ritual of sorts.
Create an all-encompassing marketing plan. It is important to have a clear message that anyone from an employee to a consumer understands clearly. Use all available tools, including your staff, to market your LTO. According to QSR Magazine, “Online innovation has changed everything in the world of limited-time offers. Using online tools like Facebook, Groupon, and LivingSocial is considered essential to successfully marketing today’s LTOs. ‘If you’re not using social media to promote, you almost don’t exist,’ says Mandy Calara, CEO of Forever Yogurt.”
There’s no denying that an LTO done right can launch your business to a new level of success. LTOs can attract new business, re-ignite interest with current customers and help you to try out new menu items. Furthermore, it can give you as an operator a new challenge to take on and greater reason to look forward to the holiday season!