At this point, restaurant owners should be aware of the new menu labeling laws that will apply to chain restaurants with more than 20 locations. If you are unaware, you still have time, as enforcement has been delayed (yet again), and you can read more about it here. But while you prepare to comply with the new federal laws surrounding menu labeling, there is an entirely separate issue that you can address today with the publishing of nutritional information – consumer demand to know the building blocks of their meals has skyrocketed over the last few years.
The Shift to Healthier Habits
The changes to legislation were in part inspired by the increasing consumer demand for a more health-conscious lifestyle. People around the globe are becoming increasingly aware of the best ways to care for their bodies. Technology and the internet are always supplying consumers with more information and products that allow them to exercise more control over their health. From the growth and eventual acquisition of MyFitnessPal by Under Armour to the Fitbit craze that kicked off a more widespread adoption of smartwatches, we are always sharing new ways and ideas to improve our health.
These healthy choices are clearly reflected in customers’ purchase decisions. Goods marked as “all natural” and “organic” are growing in popularity. In fact, products labeled as organic saw a sales increase of 23.4% over the past two years – and this trend isn’t solely specific to North America. Consumers are becoming more educated and connected thanks to technology, and 68% of those surveyed by Nielson across the globe strongly or somewhat agree they’re willing to pay more for foods and drinks that don’t contain undesirable ingredients.
Progressing with Consumer Trends
As consumers make strides towards heathy habits, they are pleased when they see companies making an effort to put clearly marked nutritional information on foods and beverages that they are consuming. Around 72% of consumers read the nutrition labels on the food they are about to consume, but too often it is not available for them to digest. When a Modern Market SmartReceipt, powered by our very own Nutricate, was shared on Reddit, there was an outpour of positive feedback from consumers with 35,000 “upvotes” and over 1,500 comments, to date. An impressive amount of dialog, but not all too surprising for the seventh most visited site on the internet. Many of the commenters expressed their wish that nutritional information was always available on their receipts.
Simply providing the nutritional information to your customers, however, isn’t the method for driving healthier decisions. Cass Sunstein, a professor at Harvard Law and Bloomberg View columnist, notes that “when people don’t respond to a suggestion, it may be because they need some help in identifying the specific steps they are being asked to take.”
“Nutricate receipts combine personally relevant information with specific suggestions for action. In these respects, the receipts belong in the same family with recommendations from Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., which similarly offer personalized suggestions, based directly on people’s past choices.”
These findings, following a study by Kelly Bedard and Peter Kuhn of the University of California at Santa Barbara, detail that the path to healthier decisions isn’t best traveled by simply providing nutritional information, as directed by the incoming federal laws, but is perhaps more effective when offering specific actions that can be taken to live a healthier life. “Nutricate receipts combine personally relevant information with specific suggestions for action. In these respects, the receipts belong in the same family with recommendations from Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., which similarly offer personalized suggestions, based directly on people’s past choices.”
With this shift towards healthier lifestyles, it makes sense that restaurants should make every effort to give their loyal customers what they are asking for. And with the introduction of a consumer base focused on healthier choices more than ever, perhaps simply complying with federal laws on providing nutritional information isn’t the best approach to achieve consumer satisfaction, but instead expanding on that by educating, informing, and showing specific ways to help your customers make healthier choices.