Reportedly, kids' menus play an important role for many chain restaurants, accounting for more than 1,500 distinct menu items at the top 250 chains, the Chicago-based industry researcher stated. They also factor largely in the dining out decisions for many parents with kids.
To better understand how chain operators can target kids and their families, Technomic Information Services, a division of Technomic, Inc., recently released The Understanding Kids' Menu Report 2007.
The new report canvases kids' menus in both limited- and full-service restaurants, providing detailed reporting and key takeaways on menu variety, proteins and desserts. Of particular interest are the insights from interviews conducted with over 500 parents, across the U.S., of children under 11 years of age.
Among the findings reported:
Nearly 90% of parents cite the existence of a kids' menu as an important factor in choosing a limited-service restaurant. This number equaled 90% for parents of three-to-eight-year-olds.
At full-service restaurants, kids' menu usage peaks at ages three to five, dropping slightly for six-to-eight-year-olds. Once children reach age nine, however, usage drops steeply.
From the time kids can talk, "what kids want" dominates the decision-making process, accounting for 80% of the reason parents order off kids' menus at both full- and limited-service restaurants. Value, toys, habit, and healthfulness all take a back seat to kids' food preferences.
This is third edition of the Understanding Kids' Menu Report, and Technomic noted that since the last update, kids' menu offerings have expanded dramatically, especially among healthier items.
"For operators, developing a kids' menu that appeals not only to kids' tastes but also parents' sensibilities is key to attracting family traffic. Manufacturers will benefit from The Understanding Kids' Menu Report 2007 by having a better understanding of the challenges operators face today," says Eric Giandelone, editorial manager of Technomic Information Services.