What we did

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, Menu Engineering is the deliberate and strategic design of a wine list to increase profitability in our customer outlets. Through our experience, we have gained the expertise to increase your profitability. The primary goal is to encourage the customer to purchase the most profitable wines to help you make more profit from your wine list.

Earlier this year, we asked one of our customers, The Kings Wark, to be part of our case study. We explained the Menu Engineering process to owner Leslie, and showed the benefits not only to her sales but also her staff. We decided on a four week study throughout the month of August, trialing each menu for 2 weeks at a time. 

There are 4 main drivers behind Menu Engineering:

  1. Psychology - Including consumer perception, attention and emotion.
  2. Price - By cash margin to drive volume of better wines.
  3. Marketing & Strategy - Including pricing and promotion.
  4. Graphic Design - Including layout and typography.

Our team have conducted some research which has resulted in the following information:

  • 44% of customers prefer a wine list arranged by style descriptors, 29% by variety, 19% by country and 8% by brands. Source: Wine Intelligence On-Trade Report 2011.
  • More of the list is now accessible to them, not just the entry level wines. Customers’ focus generally goes to the centre spot, upper, then bottom of a menu... and the majority of customers will order from the spot that first caught their attention!
  • “Certain adjectives appeal to me like “dry and zesty” More profit opportunities for you and a better experience for the customer. ‘Simplicity is the key here, as is creating a wine list that is as helpful as possible for the consumer’. Source: What customers really want from a restaurant wine list: Harpers Wine & Spirit April 2012
  • “With wine, if you’re spending a bit more you want to make sure you’re going to drink it and enjoy it.” Headlines can be used to draw the customer’s eyes before pictures so use of typography is key. If they enjoy a good wine that suits their palate they are more likely to return. “The description made me choose a Malbec for the first time, I think it said “rich” or “full-bodied”... I don’t like light reds, I prefer heavier ones.”
  • You can remove the words ‘House Wine’ from your list to help prevent the default distress purchase. Encouraging customers to trade-up from entry-level wines to those from the next price tier provides the biggest revenue growth opportunity.

A confident customer is more likely to spend more money on a better wine. 

The Results

In general, both Leslie and her staff said they felt more confident when using the engineered menu as it allowed them to make good recommendations for wine with or without food. They also said that with the engineered menu, it allowed them to have more of a conversation about wine without feeling intimidated about the subject of trying to recommend a bottle.

In terms of sales, they saw a sales increase of nearly 100%, growth in sales came from across the whole wine list, not just house wines. Account Manager Jessica Roberts commented "I’m so glad we were given the opportunity to showcase our expertise within Menu Engineering, and that the benefits for Kings Wark are clear to see. For me, the work Menu Engineering does, allows the pressure and requirements of trading to be eased whilst increasing Leslie’s margin".

Consumers often know what they want but are looking for clear direction on the wine list and for the language they understand.

By Jessica Roberts

If you would like to discuss your own wine list with us, contact your account manager or Wine Development Specialist who will be happy to help.