For a restaurant, focus groups are defined as a group of people gathered to participate in a guided discussion about a particular menu item or promotion before it is launched, or to provide ongoing feedback about current offerings. Focus groups are a useful method to:
- Discover how different people think and feel about a menu item or concept and why they hold certain opinions
- Verify or clarify survey results
- Suggest potential solutions to problems within the restaurant
- Inform decision-making when it comes to strategic planning and resource allocation
Bottom line: restaurants do consumer focus groups to gain insight into what will sell well.
Restaurant Industry Trends
Restaurants can discover industry trends straight from the mouths of the people whom these trends affect most. Doing so allows restaurants to stay ahead of the curve. When a restaurant pays attention to customer observations, they are less likely to see a disconnect between what consumers want and what ends up on a menu.
Product and Flavor Likes/Dislikes
Listening to customers discuss the positives and negatives of a topic can help restaurants modify recipes, alter promotional plans, and gather insight for future development opportunities. Everyone benefits from constructive criticism, and restaurants need it in order to meet and exceed market expectations.
Insight Into Restaurant Competitors
By asking questions about competitors, restaurants can begin to build a list of what not to do and start making internal changes to daily operations, menu items, and even the atmosphere of the restaurant. On the flip side, gathering information about what the competition is doing right can have major benefits for sales.
What’s Next After the Focus Group?
Asking an open-ended and free-form question around what customers wish for is a great way for restaurants to think toward the future. A focus group participant can have one idea that spurs additional thought into new menu offerings or promotions that might never have been thought of. Restaurants like to be forward-thinking when it comes to what’s next for their business. Focus groups are a great way to do that.
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