Monthly Archives: December 2016


Testing Concepts with a “Living Lab”

When I work with an operator I always suggest to let me create a “living lab” to test concepts out with their customers. We will provide samples to the consumer and get almost immediate feedback to enhance the development process. We can talk to the consumer, discuss the product attributes, value of product and likeliness to order. This concept allows me to gain immediate feedback from the consumer, make adjustments, refine and optimize. I like the feeling of making progress the most efficiently, in the least amount of time and with consistent success.
To give you an example of how this can work for an operator. When I am working on a new side dish to enhance the menu’s vegetable offerings I will create an experimental design. In the back of the house I will create one or more vegetable offerings that pair well with an operator’s kitchen and talent. We will put the cashier or front of house staff through a brief training, let them taste the product and describe it. While they get comfortable we will answer any questions they may have. Here is an example side dish experimental design.
Serve each guest roasted cauliflower seasoned with Za’atar spice tossed with brown butter. This vegetable dish sound oerut there but taste great, is very savory and blends with most menu items including seafood, poultry, beef, pork and vegetarian dishes alike. We will provide a sample of the side dish, but no description, to the customer and all we ask them to do is fill out a very brief survey. Note: we are focused only on flavor in this experimental design not the naming or description. Those would be evaluated separately. The survey consists of these questions:

  1. Would you purchase this side dish for you or your family?
  2. Would you pay $3.99 for this side dish
  3. Does this side dish pair well with your entrée?
  4. How did you like the dish from a score of 1-10; 10 being the best

Once you have tested 25-100 customers you can validate the side dish and take it to the executive committee to confirm its placement on the menu. We like to roll out in a smaller regional audience unless we feel we need to dominate the market with the trend or fad to capitalize on the product’s allure.
The ultimate goal is to develop products as close to the consumer’s palate as possible reacting to feedback and ultimately pleasing the consumers desire while driving sales.
Do you need help setting up a “living lab?” Get in touch with the CBCI team.