This past May, my girlfriend and I took a weekend getaway to the Windy City. It was my first time in Chicago and I absolutely loved it. After catching a day-game at Wrigley, we needed to find a place to eat dinner. When it comes to food, I am not picky at all. As long as there’s a burger on the menu, chances are, I will give the ‘thumbs up’. My girlfriend on the other hand is the extreme opposite. She’s not a vegetarian, but is always on the lookout for neat and unique salad options. With over 50% of U.S. consumers trying to eat healthy when visiting restaurants, she’s not alone. Every time I am handed the responsibility of finding a restaurant, I need to make sure there are healthy options available.
Studies show 80% of Americans say they’re willing to pay more for foods with healthy attributes. Filling meals do not make you feel terrible for the rest of the day have a tremendous amount of value. Although I am not picky and will settle on a burger, if a restaurant offers a turkey burger… I am way more likely to order it. While the turkey burger probably has the same amount of calories, psychologically I feel better about myself because there is a belief out there that turkey burgers are healthier for you. A healthy burger means a happy girlfriend and the proud feeling of healthy dining.
Restaurants can turn this psychological feeling of satisfaction from eating healthy into increased revenue. Chain restaurants that increased their reduced-calorie options saw a 5% jump in sales and 11% increase in customer traffic. Restaurants can charge more for these healthy options when they are not necessarily costing them more to make. I’ve seen restaurants charge more for a bun-less burger with a bed of lettuce because they know it is attracting a particular type of market. I find it mind-boggling that this could possibly cost extra, but people are absolutely willing to pay for that psychological satisfaction of treating their body right.
Gluten-free living appeals to about 30% of American adults. Nothing will drive a person with Celiac Disease crazier to ask, “Do you have gluten free options?” and receive the response, “well, our salads are gluten-free.” Restaurants that add gluten-free options have experienced an 8% lift in sales. Restaurants have the ability to charge a premium for these options, including pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, and deserts, because customers are willing to pay more. It is understood that the restaurant is going out of their way to provide a product that is not needed by everyone, but applies to a particular group of people, and therefore, it means more to the consumer.
It’s very simple: diners want healthy options. Restaurants have the ability to use health conscious trends to their advantage for additional revenue.