The lifestyle changes that were prompted by COVID-19 will ‘become habitual and are likely to outlast the short-term impact of the virus’ – The Initiatives Group.

The pandemic has caused a significant shift in consumer behaviour. And the heavy reliance on, and convenience of takeaway may alter the whole dynamic of the industry.

Below are three easy ways hospitality businesses can optimise their online menus to cater to, and leverage from, this shift.

#1 Use menu matrix to select your best dishes

Menu matrix helps you find the sweet spot between popular and profitable dishes.

  • popularity: dishes that customers keep ordering
  • profitability: dishes that give you the greatest returns
    Plotting your dishes on a menu matrix gives you insight and perspective on your dishes.


    • Plowhorses: high popularity, low profitability  
    • Dogs: low popularity, low profitability 
    • Stars: high popularity, high profitability
    • Puzzles: low popularity, high profitability

    Takeaway menus should be dominated by dishes in the Star category. And while you’re at it, try to do some digging on your Puzzles. Why aren’t they popular? Can they be improved and adapted for takeaway?

    #2 Justify the cost of your dish with descriptions

    There has been a growing number of studies that demonstrate a direct link between the length of a description and the popularity of a dish.

    In addition to tempting the imagination, descriptions psychologically ‘lower’ the cost of the dish. The mind plays a balancing act between ‘what am I paying’ and ‘how much am I getting’.

    #3 Framing your pricing – the decoy effect

    Decoy effect is a tactic to provide customers context. It’s that one dish in your menu that is priced higher than the others to help frame the pricing of the other dishes.

    Essentially, it guides a customer to the realisation that a dish is reasonably priced by comparing it to a more expensive one.


    So if you have a dish that you’d like to see your customers order more of, featuring a decoy dish in close proximity will make it seem a lot more attractive.

    Free eBook: more tips to make the most out of your online menus

    It’s clear that while the infections from the virus subside, the habits it’s influenced will remain. So while we prepare to re-open our venues, it’s crucial not to lose sight of new and emerging revenue sources that will help us grow.

    Download this Free eBook for more quick and actionable tips and make the most out of hospitality’s new cash cow.