Rosa’s Thai Cafe


The Brief

As Rosa’s has quickly expanded its East-meets-West brand of casual Thai dining across the UK, its suite of menus has sprawled to accommodate new customers, locations and day parts.

Rosa’s all-day menu was straining at the seams, “disjointed and clunky” after “a patchwork of historical changes and temporary fixes during the pandemic”.

Jay, Punky and the team wanted to replace it with a clear, on-brand, user-friendly design and layout informed by science and research that would drive spend per head, repeat visits, and drinks, desserts and sides participation.

Our Approach

The reason we call this 360° optimisation is because we look at the menu from every angle. After interviewing stakeholders about the Rosa’s back story, business goals and operational challenges, we used AI software to analyse thousands of Google reviews from key sites and surveyed front-of-house teams to identify menu FAQs and the customer feedback that never shows up in reviews.

Next we talked to customers. They’re a switched-on bunch, so we learnt a lot from two surveys of 500+ customers, followed up with 11 in-depth interviews to dig deeper into common themes from the survey insights and review analysis.

We visited Rosa’s sites in London, Bluewater and Cardiff to observe dining patterns in different types of restaurant, stopped customers browsing display menus to ask for their feedback and spoke to FOH and BOH teams to find out where the current menu was letting them down (eg. by misleading or confusing customers, leading to complaints) and how it could serve both customers and restaurant staff better.

Then we drilled down into the sales data to find the shakier sections of the menu, perform an analysis on sales figures/cash per sale and identified which dishes to cut, where there’s potential to improve GP and where to apply our tried-and-tested behavioural science and persuasion techniques for the biggest impact on sales.

To bring a new menu to life, we have two elements – layout and content – to bring together. Once we’d presented the initial research and talked through the insights, we delivered a longlist of opportunities for the team to prioritise based on their business objectives and potential impact.

Some opportunities, like the potential switch to a photography-led menu (based on the fact that 60% of customers said they liked to order Thai food from a menu with pictures) felt like seismic shifts. Others were simple strategic placements. Rice & Sides, for example, to sit alongside main-course plates, to make it clear to customers (after FOH team requests) that Curries & Wok Stars need a separate rice order.

For layout, we presented sketches and moodboards for three possible directions to Rosa’s and their design agency, We Are Spectacular, so we could flesh out a design brief for the chosen route.

Once we were clear on our layout and design aesthetic, it was over to WAS’s trusty team of designers to work their magic in InDesign while we drafted a fresh batch of strategic menu copy. With the layout, visual identity and content now pulling towards Rosa’s objectives, the menu was print ready.

What We Delivered

  • A research presentation with a detailed summary of our process and findings.
  • Menu Development opportunities, a list of possible next moves, which range from major step-changes to minor tweaks.
  • Three design directions – a sensible evolution, a more radical evolution and a wildcard – with sketches for discussion.
  • A design brief, based on the chosen route, for Rosa’s agency to turn into their new menu.
  • New strategic menu copy in Rosa’s TOV.
  • Guidance on testing phase in restaurants.
  • Strategies for turning the new menu into an outside display version.

The Result

In October 2023, Rosa’s launched its fun, colourful – and very authentically Thai –  menu with added food and drink photography to guide customers towards choices we know customers love and teams are proud of. Four weeks after the menu was launched, spend per head had grown by 2.7% and by 4.6% year on year.

Although it felt like a big step, bringing pictures on the menu was a research-led strategic move that hit all of Rosa’s objectives. Not only did it showcase the authenticity and vibrancy of the food and amplify the Thai feel of the menu (as most menus in Thailand come with pictures), it also helped customers to order well. We saw a huge impact on the sales volume of the featured dishes, increasing sales of Popcorn Shrimp by 60% and Duck & Pineapple Red Curry by 39.6%.

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