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Your LTO Strategy Is Missing This Key Ingredient

Originally Published As Sponsored Content With Food Business News

Menu developers have to fight a crowded marketplace to steal traffic from their competitors but the bigger challenge they face is the race against the clock. Timing is everything for a successful menu launch and it’s even more important when it’s a limited time offer (LTO). The LTOs that will drive traffic, generate buzz, and grow revenue are those who enter the market at the right time which often means before competitors. So, what can operators do to ensure their limited time offers deliver long-term results? The secret ingredient is the speed to market.

When operators see LTOs, they see dollar signs. 54% have reported an increase in LTO sales in the past year and 25% reported an increase in revenue and foot traffic during months in which they’ve launched a successful LTO compared to months without an LTO1. The numbers don’t lie. But no matter how big of an impact an LTO strategy has to the bottom line, if it’s not operationally feasible, it will do more harm than good. When developing a new LTO concept, it’s imperative to consider all the moving factors at play, such as:

🟧 The time it takes to train BOH employees.

🟧 Where any new SKUs will be stored on the prep line.

🟧 How new builds will impact speed of service and quality.

🟧 How closely the concept aligns with the current menu.

🟧 Whether the new SKUs can be utilized for other concepts.

🟧 If the profit potential is worth is.

All of these factors should be considered in the product development phase. Putting in the effort upfront to be strategic about not just what is being developed but how it’s being executed could save your operations team a lot of heartburn (and time, and money) down the line.

More than half of consumers will visit a restaurant or c-store specifically to order an LTO. Furthermore, 67% of consumers reportedly want to see more short-term trends or fads at restaurants2. But what drives these consumers to one place versus the other? Datassential surveyors say the following attributes are what they are most interested in seeing from LTOs1:

🟧 Fresh Ingredients – 82%

🟧 Premium or High-Quality Ingredients – 81%

🟧 New or Unique Flavors – 79%

🟧 Seasonal Flavors – 79%

🟧 New Twist on a Familiar Dish – 77%

There are many ways you can get creative to capitalize on these different consumer demands but finding the perfect combination that works for your brand may prove to be more complicated. Access to a robust consumer insights program can help decision makers feel more confident in their choices. Whether that be preference testing a newly developed product through a sensory panel, running concept tests by surveyors to determine purchase intent, or conducting an in-depth segment analysis to ensure the LTO is appropriately priced; these types of real-time data collection pave a clear and rapid path to market for successful launches.

Once the product has been developed and validated, there’s more scale-up work that has to be done to get the concept off the bench and into the mouths of consumers. Work that may be delayed by bureaucracy and red tape at a time when maintaining momentum is crucial to the success of the launch.

Production can be fast-tracked (without cutting corners) with the support of a well-equipped pilot plant, strategic manufacturing network, and in-house QA team. Mimicking the manufacturing process on a smaller scale before dedicating the resources to run product through a production facility at full scale can shave weeks if not months off a project timeline. These smaller runs will give you the opportunity to troubleshoot potential hurdles before they would happen on a larger level. Likewise, the support of an in-house QA team will expedite the process of assessing and performing any necessary audits to validate the product is produced at spec and always remains food safe. This is especially important for a lower volume project like a LTO since the promotional period is limited therefore the room for error in your marketing calendar is limited, too.

Raw material sourcing is a huge stressor for operators with 36% saying they can’t reliably get the ingredients they need to offer the LTOs they want1. But the real problem isn’t an inventory shortage… it’s a lack of time to source it. While ingredients can be procured, added hours in your day cannot. Lean on a well-connected supply chain network to source the raw materials you need at a negotiated cost and trusted logistical experts to ensure the product makes it through the distribution channels that make the most sense for your business model safely and on-time.  

If time is the missing piece of your LTO pipeline, you’re not alone. Turn your LT-woes into LT-woahs by putting speed to market at the core of your menu development strategy. That means getting the right people in the right place at the same time. Rubix Foods has the tools and talent you need to take your idea from research to rollout all under one roof at unparalleled speed. To get a taste for yourself and see why some of the top restaurant chains in the country trust Rubix with their successful menu launches, let’s collaborate.

1 – Datassential, LTO Keynote Report, June 2022

2 – Datassential, State of the Menu, October 2023

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