The primary goal of concept screening, both for restaurant menus and CPG food and beverage offerings, is to identify new items and flavors that have high sales potential. We recently discovered insights from a line optimization study that has ramifications for concept screening. Specifically, these insights show how potentially strong selling items risk elimination in the concept screening phase, unless certain features are incorporated into the studies.
While analyzing all the metrics, we discovered an interesting phenomenon: across the menu, there were many strong selling items that had relatively low consumer appeal. However, they also had high uniqueness. Items with lower appeal and high uniqueness are niche items. While the idea of niche items is well known, what makes this insight so powerful is the addition of sales information; these particular niche items are not just unique complements to the line-up, they are strong sellers.
In addition to some niche items being strong sellers, they have other characteristics that make them essential to a line-up:
1. They appeal to a different segment of customers than other items, so they broaden the total reach of the line-up
2. They often are less substitutable than other items, so eliminating them would create customer dissatisfaction
3. They can be destination draws to the restaurant or to the product line
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