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How to Promote Plant-based dishes on your menu

Impossible Burger on a tray with flag

More diners than ever are seeking plant-based meat. From Mintel(opens in a new tab) reporting that 42% of all QSR diners expect fast food restaurants to offer plant-based menu items to Doordash(opens in a new tab) seeing a 433% increase in plant-based burger orders and Restaurant Business Online(opens in a new tab) projecting plant-based proteins projected to grow 35% on menus by 2022, it’s never been more clear that plant-based meat is here to stay.

As a restaurant owner, marketing manager or innovation director, your job is to identify what your guests want to eat, then create mouthwatering meals that satisfy their cravings. Whether they are plant-based or not, the biggest hurdle in getting your dishes into diners’ mouths is in how to communicate your exciting new offering. Today, we’re giving you 10 tips to help you better promote plant-based dishes on your menu so that you can achieve your goals to increase sales, drive retention and repeat visits.

10 Tips for Promoting Plant-based Items on your Menu

1. Lead with flavor

While we all want to make choices that impact our health and the planet, the #1 reason guests will try a new dish (and buy it again!) is taste. Make sure to communicate how tasty your dish is by adding words like ‘delicious’, ‘mouthwatering’ or other taste-forward positioning.

2. Support text with mouth watering images

Pictures communicate flavor better than words, so make sure to include them if you have them! Showcasing the plant-based item next to the meat dish to help diners see that they aren’t that different can help overcome barriers and inspire new diners to try your dish. Check out this example from Burger Lounge:

Image source: Burger Lounge (opens in a new tab)website

3. Include a well-known brand name 

Add ‘Impossible™’ before the dish so diners who love or are excited to try Impossible™ products can see that it’s an option on the menu. Ex: Impossible™ Burger, Impossible™ Taco Salad, Impossible™ Chicken Nuggets Made From Plants, etc.

4. Group with your best sellers

When adding new plant-based items to the menu, it’s important to start with your most popular items that guests are already familiar with. Once you’re ready to promote them, don’t relegate them to a separate part of the menu -- group them with similar dishes and best-sellers so guests that aren’t vegan / vegetarian get the chance to see them as well. This also helps drive home the message that these new dishes can help fill the same desires and cravings

90% of Impossible Foods customers identify as meat eaters -- don’t leave them out by placing Impossible dishes in the back of the menu!

(Impossible Foods Brand Tracker, September 2021)

Image Source: Red Rooster Harlem menu(opens in a new tab)

5. Use symbols to tell a story 

Symbols of plants, stars or letters like ‘PB’ (plant-based) ‘GF’ (gluten free) etc. in bright colors are eye-catching and can help diners skimming the menu understand that the dish is made from plants. Remember to include a guide at the bottom of the menu for more information.

6. Highlight special attributes that guests will find exciting

You know your diners, and if there are certain words that will pique their interest, add them in! Common examples include: where the dish is from (ex: Impossible™ Southwestern Nachos), spice level (Impossible™ Spicy Chicken Sandwich), International Cuisine (Impossible™ Cuban Pork Sandwich) or preparation (slow braised Impossible™ Brisket with fries). There are dozens of others, be creative!

7. Accentuate the benefits, not the negatives

Talk about what the dish offers (delicious meat made from plants, 18g protein, 100% plant-powered) instead of what the dish doesn’t contain (meatless, low fat, beef-free). We also recommend avoiding words like ‘fake meat’, ‘soy meat’ or ‘faux’ so you don’t prevent meat eaters from wanting to try it.

8. Impossible™ dishes are for meat lovers.

It’s important to select a plant-based meat that resonates with your diners. Some diners don’t want a meat alternative that tastes like meat, and that’s fine! However Impossible™ products are made to cook and taste like meat for meat lovers. That means when you add Impossible™ dishes to the menu, it’s a good idea to let guests know this dish might be made from plants, but it’s for people who eat meat, vegans and everyone in between!

Image Source: City Works Restaurant Menu(opens in a new tab)

9. Make it at add on in any dish

Let diners know they can try the plant-based meat as an add on to any dish so they aren’t just limited to the menu item. This allows more diners to get creative, experiment and enjoy more of your menu.

10. Keep it simple & familiar

Help overcome doubt or uncertainty by reminding guests that they already know the dish. Use words like ‘Classic’ or ‘best-selling’ or ‘Fan favorite’ to communicate that while the plant-based meat might be new, the dish is still prepared in a way that they’re used to. Think ‘Grandma’s Impossible™ Spaghetti and Meatballs’ or ‘A Classic Kids Meal with Impossible™ Chicken Nuggets Made From Plants’.

Image Source: Rubio’s Coastal Grill Menu(opens in a new tab)

Additional tips to help you promote plant-based menu items

In addition to highlighting the new item on your menu, it’s important to treat this launch like any new product and invest in promotion and front of house staff training. 

Promotion: Highlight the launch on social media, send an email blast to your list prompting an LTO, and incorporate compelling images and videos to capture attention. Place window clings and table tents throughout the restaurant to capture attention and pique interest.

FOH training: It’s also crucial that your servers and hosts know how to talk about the new menu items. They are your brand ambassadors and a key component to a successful launch, so training is a must. We have Front of House training guides(opens in a new tab) for each of our products to help you do just that!

The bottom line is that plant-based is no longer a passing trend but a menu must have. By investing in the right promotional resources, you’ll be able to ensure a successful launch that brings in new diners, pleases your loyal fans and ensures that your business will get repeat purchases in the months to come.

Request a Free Sample

Head over to ImpossibleFoods.com/Sell-Impossible(opens in a new tab) If you have more questions about serving Impossible products or want to request a free sample!

(Hot off the press)

2021 State of Meat in Foodservice Industry Report