How menu boards can encourage healthy eating

| by Daniel Waldron
How menu boards can encourage healthy eating

A recent YouGov poll indicates that 45 percent of Americans find it difficult to make healthy eating choices. Part of the problem is a lack of proper nutritional labeling featured on restaurant menus.

The idea that a quick service restaurant could encourage healthy eating would have been an alien concept five years ago. However, YouGov asserts that fast food joints have done well to improve their public image.

In America, the fast food capital of the world, 40 percent of the country's general population think that QSR joints have become healthier, according to the YouGov poll. Meanwhile, 16 percent of respondents disagree with the claim.

Interestingly, 46 percent of Americans aged 55+ think that the fast food industry has become healthier. Perhaps surprisingly, younger people are less convinced, with 37 percent agreeing that QSRs have encouraged healthy eating.

Pass the salad

When asked to choose the healthiest item from a number of fast food menus, unsurprisingly, most respondents opted for a salad (52 percent). However, not every generation agrees that a salad is the healthiest option on a QSR menu.

In fact, 41 percent of millennials don’t rate salads served by fast food joints as healthy. Meanwhile, 61 percent of people aged 55+ think the same.

Based on this data, YouGov asserts that with more than a quarter of the U.S. population consisting of millennials, and with close to 50 percent of Americans finding it hard to select healthy eating options, improving the perception of salads and other menu items could hold the key to increased revenue across the fast food industry.

The importance of nutritional information to customers

Data released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) highlights that one-third of the calorie intake among Americans takes place outside the home. Those surveyed by YouGov, say that a lack of proper nutritional labeling on menus makes it hard to track calorie consumption.

Here's where drive thru digital menu boards come in. 70 percent of fast food sales take place at the drive thru window. What’s absent on most drive thru menus is clear nutritional information. According to the YouGov poll, 57 percent of U.S. adults think that a menu clearly displaying nutritional information would impact their purchase decision.

While most QSR joints have moved to display specific nutritional information on their menus, this has taken time and a great deal of expense. Why? Most drive thru menu boards are printed. As a result, the cost and time to reproduce drive thru menus – across an entire chain in most cases – is not practical for fast food operators.

Menu boards make the difference

In the US, fast food menus are required to feature easy to understand nutritional information, by law – as of May 5th, 2017. The UK and other European nations have similar statutes in place.

However, given that 45 percent of fast food patrons still struggle to make healthy eating decisions, there’s clearly a ‘dead zone’ where customers are not getting the information.

Drive thru digital menu boards represent an opportunity for QSRs to guide customers towards healthier options, at low-cost to them and without the hassle of having to reprint entire menus.

To avoid bias, digital menu boards at the drive thru are not the only solution for meeting nutritional information regulations. Nevertheless, they are the most efficient and effective. Equally, going digital at the drive thru adds a new dynamic to the operational side of the business. 

It’s not just the clear display of nutritional information where digital menus make a difference… Here are some of the operational perks of digital drive thru menu boards:

  • You can up-sell new menu items with an eye-catching display. Competition for customer attention is rife & the best way to get eyes on your menu is to showcase your food with digital video displays. What better way to whet appetites than with a full HD video presenting steaming hot food from your menu.
  • Digital menu boards are convenient. Tired of endlessly faffing with printed posters, putting them up & taking them down? Save your business, and staff, time. Digital gives you complete control from a central point, which is particularly beneficial if you have multiple restaurants. You can update all menu boards, all at once.
  • You can adapt your menu. Do you serve breakfast, lunch and dinner? Make menu changeovers a thing of the past. Control everything digitally and switch your menus to suit the time of day — not just at one outlet, but across your entire chain.
  • Improve the customer experience. Digital reduces perceived waiting times, provided you’re displaying engaging content. Satisfy your customers, potentially sell more.
  • Create consistency. From a visual perspective, digital signage displays give you consistency. Displays are timely and up-to-date, whereas static posters take time to erect or simply remain in the storage room.
  • When is a menu not a menu? During an emergency. Turn your menus into an exit guidance system or information board in emergency situations, it could save lives.
  • Entertain. Use digital menus to entertain customers and reduce perceived waiting times. Throw in a few promotions and tasty looking menu items to drive sales and encourage fast food patrons to return.
  • An additional member of staff. Let your drive thru digital menu boards do the selling for you. They’re a silent ally for any fast food joint looking to boost sales.
  • Save the planet & save money. Compared to posters, digital is greener and more cost-effective. See the savings you make when you cut printing, delivery, installation and disposal costs, out of the equation.

You get all this and potentially make your money back within a year on average.

Image via Armagard.

Topics: Content Management, Customer Experience, Menu Boards, Restaurants

Daniel Waldron
Daniel is the Head of Content for award-winning, outdoor digital signage enclosure manufacturer, Armagard. Daniel blogs frequently on digital signage, while overseeing the complete content marketing mix and social media feeds for Armagard. wwwView Daniel Waldron's profile on LinkedIn

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