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Ideal menu prices & how to raise them

There are two kinds of restaurateurs: Ones who admit there’s more dart throwing than science to setting menu prices, and liars. When even McDonald’s misjudges what the market can bear, as the chain acknowledged after a recent Mighty Wings promotion, what hope is there for operators who don’t have the resources to go beyond gut instinct?

Fortunately, some guidance was served up at last week’s Technomic conference on consumer trends. Among the gold doled out to attendees were calculations of optimal meal prices by day part for each major market segment, as determined by what consumers said they’d be amenable to spending. Even better: The researcher provided data-based tips for pushing prices upward without alienating value-seekers.

First, the sweet spots of pricing:

Technomic had specific instructions on how to raise prices while avoiding sticker shock.  Through surveys, consumers told the firm they’d be willing to spend more, and sometimes considerably more, for items boasting one of nine familiar attributes. For instance, nearly one of every five survey respondents said they’d be willing to spend at least 5 percent more for an item described as fresh. One in 10 would pop for that mark-up on a menu choice designated as homemade.

Here’s the complete list:

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