The Melting Pot Restaurants, Inc., the world’s premier fondue restaurant franchise, has executed a multi-tiered approach to address perceived limitations that prevent guests from visiting its restaurants more often. The strategy culminates with the launch of a revamped menu that allows guests to control and customize their fondue dining experiences.
“The Melting Pot’s guests have typically viewed the fondue dining experience as a four-course meal that lasts about two hours, often reserving it for special occasions,” says The Melting Pot president Mike Lester. “With consumers cutting back on spending and dining out less, we knew we had to change the way we present our dining experience to encourage guests to visit more often and dine with us in different ways.”
The resulting multi-tactical approach to communicating The Melting Pot’s dining experience in a new way included:
Extensive research on the brand and its barriers that began in 2011 and included launching a consumer-insights study, which made it apparent that a menu re-engineering project was necessary. The menu re-engineering project was designed to optimize and restructure The Melting Pot's menu offerings and update the menu to bring it more in line with the evolving brand. Key research findings indicated:
- The majority of menu items needed to be offered à la carte to make the menu easier to navigate and to highlight ways to customize the experience with one, two, or more courses.
- Per couple pricing on the menu made the dining experience appear more expensive, so all items should be priced per person.
- Testing of multiple versions of the updated menu in restaurant locations throughout the U.S.
- Educating The Melting Pot’s franchisees on new ways to explain the fondue dining experience to guests.
- Development of an experience video that explains the new way of dining at The Melting Pot.
- Photo shoots to update the brand’s food and lifestyle photography.
- Introducing the company’s plans to unveil a revamped menu on a national TV show, A&E original real life series “Be the Boss,” in December 2012.
“Grounding the new menu in research, we set out to better communicate the value offered by our dining experience through a menu re-engineering project that led us to update the menu’s look and flow,” says Cindy Haynes, senior vice president of marketing for Front Burner Brands, restaurant management company for The Melting Pot. “The easier-to-navigate menu emphasizes the wide variety of ways to enjoy The Melting Pot’s offerings and allows us to communicate lower starting price points by shifting the menu’s focus away from bundled, multi-course meals priced per couple.”
The revamped menu features per person pricing and more unbundled and à la carte selections, highlighting customizable options that allow guests to enjoy one, two or more courses as they select any combination of individually-priced cheese fondues, salads, entrées and chocolate fondues.
“This doesn’t mean that we’ve done away with our traditional four-course fondue experience or that we don’t want guests to continue to choose The Melting Pot for celebrations,” Lester says. “For our loyalists who love the four-course experience, we’ve increased the number of ways to enjoy four courses from three options to 10 and added more customizable options to encourage additional visits throughout the year.”