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Consumer Trends

Optimizing the kids’ menu for delivery

Photograph: Shutterstock

Millennials are usually cited as the generation that brought on the current takeout and delivery boom, and as the members of that generation transition into parenthood, they’re not losing their appreciation of having meals brought to them. Instead, they’re weighing their choices against a new set of criteria: What’s right for the kids?

For busy parents, delivery and takeout have been staples for years. Ordering a pizza or Chinese for delivery is a convenient and tasty way to solve the what’s-for-dinner problem. But for many parents, choosing where to purchase food from is not only influenced by convenience, but also by what their kids want to eat (and what they want their kids to eat, for that matter).

Some 1.2 million millennial women gave birth for the first time in 2016, according to National Center for Health Statistics data, raising the number of millennial U.S. women who have become mothers to more than 17 million. With more millennials becoming parents, it’s crucial for restaurants to ensure they’re appealing to these consumers. That means offering options that parents will feel comfortable feeding their kids—as well as options that kids want to eat. And with an increasing interest in delivery and takeout, millennial parents will be looking to restaurants for better off-premise options.

So how can restaurants reach those parents? By elevating and upgrading their kids’ menu offerings for delivery and takeout.

Why delivery is important to parents

Over the past few decades, it seems families are busier than ever. Between juggling multiple children’s activities or full-time jobs, it can be hard to cook dinner at home every night. In fact, 27% of consumers say they are ordering carryout and delivery more often than they were two years ago, and 28% say the reason they’re ordering it more is because they have less time to cook at home, according to Technomic’s 2018 Takeout & Off-Premise Consumer Trend Report.

With numbers like these, it’s imperative for operators to ensure their menus satisfy both parents’ and kids’ taste buds, while also making sure food holds up well during travel.  By appealing to the pint-sized members of the family, restaurants can harness parents’ dining dollars.

What to consider for a delivery- and takeout-friendly kids’ menu

Traditional kids’ menu items are already often found across delivery menus. Dishes such as chicken fingers, quesadillas, mac and cheese and “mini” versions of regular menu items are sure to be big sellers thanks to their familiarity. However, restaurants should be sure to use the best packaging for favorites such as French fries or chicken strips, as those menu choices will need vented packaging to ensure they stay crisp while being transported to their destination. Items such as soup and pastas with sauce should be packaged in leak- and spill-proof containers.

Kids’ menu options should also feature both kid- and parent-friendly choices. Most parents appreciate better for you options and that might mean a side of apple slices, baby carrots or baked crackers like Goldfish® as an alternative to french fries with their meal (and, as an added bonus, sides of fresh fruit and veggies or baked crackers hold up better when being delivered). Smaller portions, with a correspondingly lower price, are also ideal. For example, at Applebee’s, smaller portions of dishes like grilled chicken alfredo are offered on the kids menu for just $5.49—the adult portion of a similar dish, Classic Broccoli Chicken Alfredo, is $13.29.

Other strategies to hook parents

Restaurants should highlight their kids’ menu offerings, as well as use data to refine advertisements. Winning tactics include sending out direct mail, email or social media posts targeted to young families in the area. By increasing patrons’ awareness of the kids’ menu offerings, restaurants stay top of mind when parents are deciding where to order.

Friendly’s, for example, offers an array of sides including mandarin oranges, Goldfish® crackers, broccoli, apple slices, applesauce and more. Promoting wholesome items like these can increase parents’ approval of the kids menu.

Offering kid-friendly desserts like a yogurt parfait with fresh fruit and graham crackers, can be a good hook, too. Offering a convenient bundle deal (for instance, offering parents a free appetizer or dessert when ordering from the kids menu; or offering a family meal with an an entree, sides and a choice of either appetizer or dessert for a low price) can also be a great way to give parents a break and increase loyalty.

The increase in off-premise patronage and growing number of families with young kids at home presents a lucrative opportunity for restaurants to invest in their kids menus. By offering an array of foods, operators can ensure parents and their kids are repeat customers.

This post is sponsored by Campbell's Foodservice

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