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Menu Optimization to Maximize Sales


No matter the restaurant size, menu decisions are a challenge. Where should you expand? What’s worth eliminating? Operators are on the search for the ideal menu assortment. Manufacturers, you can help… provide your operator customers with menu optimization research to help them sell more of your product.

Did You Know

🍴 9″ by 12″ is the most common menu size

🍴 60% – 70% of sales come from fewer than 24 menu items

🍴 The upper right hand corner is the first place customers’ eyes look

Menu optimization helps operators secure more sales and add-on opportunities… which means more volume sold for you.

Decision Insight Menu Optimization studies determine:

  • What items must stay on the menu?
  • What items could be discontinued?
  • What new items should be added?

To answer these questions, you need to understand how each item impacts the volume of items diners will order, and how an item addition or removal affects diner loyalty.


Video: Menu Optimization Using a Virtual Test & Learn Platform


What You’ll Learn:

  • How Pizza Hut incorporated UB into traditional UX testing to maximize online sales
  • Test scenarios around pan pizza pricing and online tipping
  • Why you should use a digital test & learn platform to analyze sales impact quickly and efficiently



Virtual Testing with Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut is a global powerhouse. The pizza chain has a tremendous online presence ($10+ billion is annual system sales). Today, over half of delivery and carryout orders are placed digitally. Nationwide, an average of 30 online orders are placed every minute. Their website is their biggest storefront. Especially with COVID, there’s been a surge in online ordering. The website has a responsibility to be easy to use, consumers can find what they want, Pizza Hut wants consumers to maximize spend.

Pizza Hut leveraged a variety of tools to assess performance:

Explore: Traditional UX testing

Refine: Virtual shopping evaluation

Validate: In-market A/B testing


Success of Virtual Shopping Simulation

Virtual testing is great because it allows “what-if” testing. As a manufacturer or operator, you can test a variety of strategies and learn the impact on behavior.


  • What Consumers SEE
    • Are consumers paying attention to what Pizza Hut wants them to see?
    • Can consumers remember what they see?


  • What Consumers THINK
    • How does it impact perceived ease of use?
    • How does it impact brand perceptions?


  • What Consumers DO
    • How does it affect sales (and the bottom line)?

(video time: 5:32)


How Does the Platform Work?

Decision Insight will built a replica version of the website or menu for testing. In this case, it’s a nearly identical replica of

Because it’s a replica environment, it enables quick, cost effective digitally manipulation to test new ideas.

As a respondent, you order like you would in real life… every factor is considered — the time of day, how many you’re ordering for, which crust, which toppings, etc.

Virtual Menu Testing Platform Preview
Virtual Testing for menu optimization measures the economic impact on sales for:

  • Restaurant Partnerships
  • Foodservice Suppliers
  • New Products / LTOs
  • Pricing
  • Promotional Strategies
  • Recipe Structure
  • Site / Menu Layout
  • Site / Menu Assortment and Optimization
  • Paper Menus
  • Menu Boards
  • Branded
  • Generic

If you can execute it on a menu or website, we can build a simulation to test that and build a strategy.

(video time: 7:30)


Pricing Test

“What if we charge a premium for the Pan Pizza crust?”

For Pizza Hut, pan pizza is a flagship product. It was launched in 1980 and has been a best seller ever since. Of course, competitors started copying the idea and launching their own pan pizzas — and they were charging a premium for the specialized crust.

Pizza Hut wondered if they were leaving money on the table by not up charging for pan pizza like its competitors. If they charge more, there’s a risk of alienating loyal shoppers. Pizza Hut needed to gauge the reaction before implementing price changes. Will a price increase on pan pizza hurt perception of value? Will shoppers shift to another crust?

Using virtual testing, we learned:

🍕 Few consumers noticed the price increase

🍕 Overall brand perceptions were maintained – no negative impact

🍕 No shift to other crust types

🍕 Increased guest checks


Tipping Option

“What if we allowed tipping online with a purchase?”  

In the past, when you ordered pizza delivery, there was no option to tip on the website. You’d run around looking for cash to tip the delivery driver. And post-COVID, online tipping seems to make more sense since so many people want to have a cashless experience.

Menu Testing Virtual Tipping


It seems like online tipping would be a clear win for consumers … tip suggestions make mental math easier, it provides more transparency and a smoother delivery experience.

…but Pizza Hut had a lot of questions. Is online tipping worth the development? Will it be used? Will shoppers feel comfortable leaving the tip before delivery? What will it do to tipping size?

(video time: 14:37)

Using virtual testing, we learned:

🍕 Consumers are more likely to choose the tip percentage listed first

🍕 Positive impact on tipping size

🍕 People loved it! It increased satisfaction with the website

🍕 The drivers and operators were very happy

🍕 A vast majority of credit card users used the online tipping function

The Secret Sauce

(video time: 17:00)

Pizza Hut leverages virtual research to measure before they go-to-market. It helps them better prioritize solutions and expand their ideas.

Virtual results closely mirror in-market

  • Better prioritize solutions
  • License to push testing
  • Confidence to expand
  • Base decisions on business impacts


Menu Optimization Methodology

The Decision Insight Menu Optimization methodology uses advanced analytics to efficiently evaluate literally hundreds of existing and proposed items and combinations to engineer your optimal menu.

From this analysis, a set of complete menus are developed and tested in a virtual restaurant environment to understand which menu strategy maximizes product mix and average ticket price. Participants visit the virtual restaurant (either in-store or drive-thru) and order as they would in a real world scenario. After ordering from the menu, specific diagnostics are performed to complete the purchase-picture.

The flow and placement of items on a menu or menu board, including imagery, can have a tremendous impact on the customers you attract and ultimately, what they order.

That impact is manifested in product selection and average ticket price.

Most restaurants depend on attitudinal measures when testing these solutions, exposing respondents to a menu or menu board and asking them how appealing it is. Attitudinal measures are, of course, important, but they should never be used in isolation – not when it is efficient to obtain behavioral measures as well.