Marketing | Menu Planning

Harnessing Your Customers? Creativity for LTOs

Feb 05, 2018

Harnessing Your Customers? Creativity for LTOs

Learn the right way to involve customers in the creation of your LTOs

When you're trying to develop your next great limited-time offer (LTO), it's important to understand what's trending with your customer base.

Getting those kinds of consumer insights and hard data, however, can be daunting even for large chains.

So how can you tell which dishes will get your patrons raving? Try asking them directly.

70% of patrons want to help you develop your LTOs

Surprised? This is one of the upshots from a recent Datassential study on LTO development. Far from being put off by the request, most patrons are excited to share their ideas for special entrées, desserts and beverages that they'd like to see on your menu—even if just for a limited time.

Aside from helping you reduce the chances of an LTO flop, this kind of direct input can make your customers feel like they have a stake in your LTOs success and strengthen their tie to your brand. After all, who doesn't like to be heard?

How consumers would like to participate in your LTO creation

When asked how they would like to participate in the creation of an LTO, patrons had a lot of ideas.

Consumers' top preferred ways of participating in new LTOs 1. Vote on flavors created by the restaurant (56%)

2. Give feedback during a taste test event (56%)

3. Submit a suggestion online (51%)

4. Vote on flavors submitted by customers (49%)

5. Write it on a tabletop card (37%)

6. Suggest an item to a staff member (28%)

Based on these preferences, here are a few ideas for gathering customer input on LTOs

  • Hold a special LTO tasting event at your location. Make this a special, invitation-only occasion. If you have a loyalty program, leverage your email list to make sure your best customers get a chance to supply their feedback.

  • Use online tools gather both suggestions for LTOs and feedback. Free and inexpensive online survey tools abound on the Internet. Consider using a service like SurveyMonkey. Email a link to the survey to your customer loyalty program list.

  • Solicit feedback via your social media accounts. Social media can attract feedback from people outside of your loyalty program's core customers, giving you a somewhat broad cross section of opinion.

  • Methods like tabletop cards and suggestions submitted via servers can also be helpful but maybe harder to gather and tabulate reliably versus online methods.

  • If you're going to gather feedback virtually, it's critical to use a nice photograph of the LTO, as well as a carefully worded name and description. Your description should convey what's unique and exciting about the LTO, but do so in words you're certain will be understandable to your audience.

The customer is always right

With all of the time and money that goes into creating an LTO, it's imperative to get it right. Surveying your customers not only gives you important insight into what has their mouths watering, it also serves as an inexpensive, clever method of marketing the LTO and building buzz before it even launches. And that's worth asking for.


1 Datassential Menu Trends Keynote, 2017