12 Jan 2010

Spending: 4 Things To Watch Out For On a Menu

The bad news first: even if you are aware of the influence a carefully designed menu will have on your decision making you won’t be able to do much about it! The good new is: at least you could try and sometimes re-consider your choices!
There is a lot of research on how combination of products presented to us and
their pricing affects our choices and this is how the research applies to a simple restaurant menu, so watch out!

1. Red Herring Pricing

Research has shown that placing an inferior but similarly priced product near the one the restaurant wants to sell more of will increase sales of the better product.

“Some restaurants use what researchers call decoys. For example, they may place a really expensive item at the top of the menu, so that other dishes look more reasonably priced; research shows that diners tend to order neither the most nor least expensive items, drifting toward the middle.” NY Times reports

2. Hiding the Cues

Another way to lure us into splashing out more is to … get rid of a link between the price and the money you need to pay for it by removing currency (£, $, etc.) before the numbers.

Research also has shown that even spelling out dollars, pounds or using abbreviation (USD, GBP, EUR, etc.) decreases our willingness to spend.

Experiments suggest that when we see a currency sign or read the word “dollar”, “pounds”, our brain activates the same area as when experiencing physical pain. This phenomenon is now known as the “Pain of Paying

3. Adding a Bit of a Romance

A well known technique is to describe dish’s ingredients using a lot of positive adjectives.
Has it ever occurred to you that all eggs are technically farm fresh but only some dishes/products will point it out to us as something really special? The same applies to “country ham”, “baked with love” and alike

4. Painting a Beautiful Picture.

Graphic designers will agree that menu is a work of art ore than it is a list of dishes on offer. Dishes that need to be sold can be emphasised with boxes around them, white space, photos and other graphic elements.

Photo by Carlos
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