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Healthy Menu? Don’t Tell Your Customers

Ask anyone sitting on their couch around dinnertime if they want a healthy pizza, and you’ll probably get a lukewarm response.  Not that people don’t want to eat healthier.  Study after study has shown that consumers, when asked when they aren’t actively ordering food at a restaurant, want healthy menu options.  But as I have discussed in the past, that doesn’t always translate well to the moment of truth when a patron actually makes their decision.

A New Orleans pizza concept learned this lesson the hard way.  Calling themselves World’s Healthiest Pizza, they formed a menu based on the premise of making healthy taste great.  Response was lackluster from the start.  That’s because nobody wants to eat healthy pizza.  They want a pizza that tastes awesome, calories and fat be damned.  To most people, the word “healthy” doesn’t mean “enjoyable” or “tasty.”

For this reason, many restaurant chains don’t even tell customers new menu items are healthy, and they don’t make a big deal when they change the ingredients of existing meals that make them healthier.  The reasons are very simple: customers order things they think will taste good.  Customers also don’t associate healthy with good taste.

There is a small contingent who care passionately about eating healthy, reduced calorie and fat foods.  They are the ones who will read the nutrition facts on your menu and be satisfied when they discover just how healthy your menu is.  For the vast majority of patrons, however, your primary objective is to convince them that the items on your menu taste absolutely amazing.  After they fall in love with your menu, hopefully they’ll realize their favorite meals are also healthy eating, and you’ll have a customer for life.

As for World’s Healthiest Pizza, they changed their name to Naked Pizza earlier this year.  The concept’s owners remain dedicated to making great tasting pizza that’s also good for you.  They just don’t tell you about it until you’ve discovered just how great healthy tastes.

About Greg McGuire

Greg has blogged about the food service industry for years and has been published in industry magazines, like Independent Restaurateur and industry blogs like Restaurant SmartBrief. He lives in Colorado with his wife and two sons and enjoys reading, live music, and the great outdoors.

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One comment

  1. It’s funny that Naked Pizza spent 2 1/2 years and upwards of $750,000 (according to the NY Times) on a food that is perfectly fine as it is. By the looks of their website, it really doesn’t look like they learned their lesson at all. About the only thing that makes sense here is that they’re in Louisiana where I wouldn’t expect really good pizza anyway.

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