What is in this article?:
- Restaurant chains promote lighter fare for 2013
- Starting the new year right
Panera, Applebee’s, Chili’s and other chains are promoting new, lower-calorie menu items to kick off the new year.
Restaurant chains are marketing or adding better-for-you items in time to draw consumers who have made resolutions to lose weight and eat healthfully in 2013.
Many restaurant chains, including Panera, Applebee’s, Chili’s and others are rolling out or promoting lighter-fare menu items to court newly health-conscious consumers. Although few chains are running specific New Year’s resolution promotions, their menu additions acknowledge that consumers' increasing interest in lighter, more healthful fare.
Chili's is building upon its existing Lighter Choices menu and will promote it with digital media and email campaigns that will launch on January 1, according to Maureen Locus, a spokeswoman at Brinker International Inc., Chili’s parent company.
“Chili’s understands our guests want options to meet their lifestyles, and the Lighter Choices menu satisfies the needs of our health-conscious guests,” said Locus.
The chain is promoting options on its lighter-fare menu with an email to its Chili’s Email Club members featuring the tagline, “Eat Lighter This Year.” The campaign highlights two menu items, its Mango-Chile Tilapia, which has 620 calories, and its Mango-Chile, which has 580 calories. Both items were rolled out on Dec. 10, according to Locus.
In addition, the brand will promote the entire menu through Facebook and Twitter accounts, Locus said.
Like Chili’s, Applebee’s, a subsidiary of Glendale, Calif.-based DineEquity Inc., is planning to highlight its lower-calorie menu items in the New Year. The company is adding two new menu items to its Unbelievably Great Tasting Under 550 Calories Menu on Jan. 1: Zesty Roma Chicken and Shrimp and Lemon Parmesan Shrimp. The Lemon Parmesan Shrimp is endorsed by Weight Watchers, said Applebee’s spokesman Dan Smith.
“It’s more focused on flavor than the calorie count,” Smith said about the menu. “It’s having it all without giving up anything. Flavor comes first," he said, adding that the new campaign will include tops from chefs on how to add flavor without calories.
Although Applebee’s will be pushing its new menu items in January, the lighter-fare menu will be a "year-round focus" for the brand's culinary team, Smith said. “Our positioning on that is that we obsess over these things so you don’t have to.”