Our Foodie Friday Fun this week comes to us courtesy of “Restaurant Startup“, a show on CNBC. If you’ve never seen it, the people behind two restaurant concepts pitch for an investment. One is selected, given a budget, and has 24 hours to produce a pop-up version of that concept. If all goes well, they receive an investment. This week’s episode featured a fast-casual concept restaurant serving South African food. What struck me as I watched the show is something from which any business can learn.
The restaurant is called Peli Peli Kitchen and the food was really good according to the people who tried it. Of course, many people had no idea what the food was as they were ordering it because the menu descriptions of this unfamiliar cuisine (can you name a South African dish off the top of your head?) were terrible. One dish was described as “the pimp of shrimp”. Say what?
The issues with the descriptions were pointed out to the guy producing the menu early on. He did a very smart thing as he was editing. He had his young son read the menu and tell him what the food was. Of course, when he asked the kid if he knew what “the pimp of shrimp” was, the kid had no idea. I’m not sure if the writer was in love with his alliteration, but he didn’t change the description. Not surprisingly, when the hosts and potential investors asked diners who were waiting in line if they knew what the various dishes were, based on the description, most said no.
The point is pretty obvious. We can’t do things in business that confuse our customers. We can’t be so in love with our own clever marketing that we lose sight of that marketing’s main purpose: to inform consumers about the product so that consumers become customers. I realize that some marketers like to cause confusion – think placing sugary fruit juices near the fresh fruit as an example – but I’m not a fan of that technique. If we need to cause confusion to sell a product we probably ought to rethink the product.
The menu confusion, in this case, wasn’t a deliberate attempt to mislead. It was just dumb. Then again, how many pimps of shrimp are on your marketing materials?