Menu Psychology: How to Increase Restaurant Sales with Menu Design
By Ryan Loose
We all want to make more money. Period. I do. You do. It’s a fact. As a "licensed and qualified" brain expert, I can actually help you make money. Only if you use menus at your business though, otherwise, if you have any pointers, let me know. Please?
So, read a great article the other day about menu psychology, found it very interesting, and thought I should share my new wealth of knowledge with our loyal Blog reading fans. Since it’s estimated that the average person makes about 200 food related decisions a day, here’s some things you can do to make your menu sell.
Beware of the $ Sign!
Don’t put $ signs on your menu. This is not a metaphor, physically don’t print $ signs on your menu. Studies have shown that diners actually spend significantly more money if ordering from a menu that lists numeric prices without $ signs. Catch of the Day - 9.89. Here’s a good example. Subconsciously, to the average diner this actually seems like a better deal than Catch of the Day - $9.89.
To really overhaul your menu to produce the most profitable results, don’t use decimals either. Round everything to the nearest dollar. Catch of the Day - 9.89. Change it to Catch of the Day - 10. Research shows that, even though it is more expensive in actuality, diner’s see Catch of the Day - 10 as a better value than Catch of the Day - 9.89. Possibly, less digits in the number triggers a general "less" response in the brain? Possibly, people just feel like there’s no reason for those cents, and think they’re being ripped off somehow? I don’t know. But, it makes sense to me.
Momma Joanie’s Sweet Potato Gumbo Fried Finger-Lickin’ Chicken
Okay, this is a bit much but hey, it’s me Blogger nation, what do you expect? But, what you call a dish really has an impact on what your customers are willing to pay. Everyone likes comfort foods. How many times have you heard "Man, this macaroni and cheese is almost as good as my Mom’s." Or Grandma’s, or Aunt’s, or Dad’s, anyone really. This is why diners are drawn to dishes with titles that reference family members, or even just people’s names. It triggers that "comfort" response in the brain. To be honest, the dish above sounds pretty darn awful. (Don’t worry; it doesn’t exist outside of WEBstaurantStore.com blog world, I promise). Read it without "Momma Joanie’s" though. Sounds even more gut wrenchingly spew-able, doesn’t it? But, if Momma Joanie makes it, it must be good, right? I mean, she must have fed it to her kids at some point?
Format - It’s Like Playing Chess...With Your Customer’s Brain HAHAHAHAHA!!!
Menu designs draw a lot of inspiration from newspaper lay outs, where the most important articles are placed in the top right of the front page. Our eyes are naturally drawn to that area for some reason. To capitalize on this, many restaurants put their most popular and profitable items in this area of the menu. You’ll often see daily specials in the top right of the front page too. Other formatting tricks like putting a border around profitable menu items, or even adding a photograph of the item will also draw customer attention to the products you want them to buy.