Menu Psychology: Sneaky Restaurant Tricks


When you sit down in a restaurant and open the menu, what you read isn't just a list of dishes but a carefully designed and ordered set of options used to influence what you choose to eat. Menu designers utilise psychology when writing, using a mixture of restaurant tricks.


1. Ditch the £

Rather than writing prices as we would usually see them (£12.99), many restaurants just abandon the pound sign completely (12.99). The simple action of removing this symbol dissociates the number from money and makes the customer more likely to choose a pricier dish.


2. Round down

Similarly, they may also price the dishes by rounding down by 1-5p. Ordering a meal that costs £11 sounds much worse than ordering a meal that's only £10.95!


3. Make use of corners

When we look at a piece of paper, most of us would naturally look at the top right corner first. To make the most of this, many menu designers will put the most expensive items in this zone so that they are the first things you see.


4. Words=money

Let's say you're about to order a dessert at a restaurant and you see a bowl of ice cream for £5.99... rip off, right? But if you were instead confronted with a 'Creamy Madagascan Vanilla Gelato Scoop'... bargain. The more words they add, the more we feel we are getting for our money!


5. Shock tactics

By putting something ridiculously expensive near the top of the menu, like a £75 steak, everything else will seen reasonably priced in comparison. Once the price panic sets in, £12.99 seems much more reasonable than a £100 meal.


6. Limited options

If you're indecisive, you'll know that the more options you're given, the higher the level of choice anxiety. Many restaurants make use of the 'golden number' 7, this is the best number of dish options per category to reduce stress.


7. Photos are key

Humans are very visual creatures. If we see a picture of a meal, we are more likely to want it than just reading about it. In fact, showing a picture of a dish increases sales by 30%! Many restaurants will put a picture of the most expensive dish or the most revenue-boosting dish to increase sales.


Next time you go to a restaurant, make sure you look out for these tricks of the trade and see if they influence any of your friends or family!

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