Tricks Restaurants Use When Designing Their Menus
If you think that a restaurant's menu is just a list of dishes served at the given dining venue you are wrong. In fact, some high-end restaurants even get a menu engineer or consultant to strategically tailor it to meet the needs of the dining establishment. The perfect menu should be on-brand, easy to read, and, of course, profitable. Below are the strategies restaurants employ in their menus to manipulate your decision of what you will order for dinner.
1. Limited Options.
The best menus are developed with the "paradox of choice" in mind. It says that the more the options, the more confusion you will feel. So the golden number is seven: seven dishes per food category, seven starters, seven entrees, etc. Including more than seven items is no good as a guest will become anxious and the chances are that he will choose the item he has had before. On the contrary, a well-designed menu should encourage the customer to try something different (and preferably more costly). Some restaurants have neglected this golden rule and experience a sales decline. For example, the first menu of McDonald's featured just a few items but now it serves over 140. Despite the profusion of options the chain's revenue has been reported to decline by 11 percent in the first quarter of 2015. The problem with more complicated menus is that the guests may leave feeling less satisfied, as they might feel to have chosen the wrong option. Because of this the customers may never come again. And in the food industry where repeat customers constitute about 70 percent of sales, getting diners to come back is the primary objective.
2. Added Photos
Having an enticing picture alongside a food item increases sales by 30 percent. Iowa State University conducted a research in a YMCA camp. Kids were shown a digital display of a salad and the majority of the campers who saw the salad photo (70 percent) were more willing to have this salad for lunch. To enhance this effect many fast food restaurants use digital signs that move or rotate. The trick is when you are hungry the more vivid and tangible the image is the more it tends to stimulate your response to it. On the other hand having too many pictures will make the food look cheap. When the menu features many photographed items, the perception of the guest tends to decrease. That is why many high-end restaurants avoid including photos in their menus.
3. Manipulating Prices.
In their efforts to encourage customers to spend more money restaurants try to make price tags look inconspicuous. They often just don't use dollar signs not to draw people's attention to the fact they're spending money. So be prepared to see 14.00, or even just 14 for the club sandwich rather than $12.00. According to the research conducted by a Cornell University, written-out prices ("fourteen dollars") also stimulate diners to spend more, as well as $9.95 seems nicer than a $10. Dotted lines leading from the menu item to its price should be avoided too. So restaurants now use either "nested" pricing, or just list the price right after the description of the dish in the same size font in the hopes that the customer will just fail to notice it.
4. Using Costly Decoys
One trick restaurants commonly use is to list the most expensive item first in the menu, so that all other dishes will seem rather affordable. A bit more costly items also imply that the food quality is better. Such pricing makes customers feel more satisfied with the meal. For example, one study revealed that those guests who paid $8 for the buffet left the dining venue more satisfied than those who paid just $4 for exactly the same buffet.
5. Playing with Your Eyes.
Just like supermarkets, restaurants also place most profitable items at eye level - the upper right corner. This is where the most profitable items are listed, then go the appetizers on the upper left and salads underneath. Another strategy often used is to leave some space around high-profit items. They are usually put in boxes or are separated from the other options. Separating the item draws attention to it and helps sell it.
6. Use Colors
Different colors help evoke specific feelings and make people act. Blue soothes so it is often used to achieve a calming effect. Many restaurants use red and yellow colors in their branding because red stimulates the appetite and yellow draws attention. When combined these two colors create the best food pairings.
7. Fancy Language
Long detailed descriptions help sell about 30 percent more of food. So classic "chocolate pudding" turns into "satin chocolate pudding." Customers also find well described food tastier. Adjectives like "line-caught," "farm-raised," or "locally-sourced" add a great deal of appeal because they emphasize the high quality of the item. To prevent the restaurants from misleading the customers some states even adopted "Truth in Menu" laws that prevent restaurants from lying about the origin of food.
8. Make Feel Nostalgic
Childhood memories are the sweetest ones and restaurants do know about this, and use it to their advantage. Many customers would often like to taste something traditional. Do remember about this the next time you're going to have "Grandma's Chicken Soup."