Is Success on This Menu?
"The use of menu engineers and consultants is exploding in the casual dining arena and among national chains, a sector of the business that has been especially pinched by the economy," explains Sarah Kershaw in an article at The New York Times. "In response, they are tapping into a growing body of research into the science of menu pricing and writing, hoping the way to a diner's heart is not only through the stomach, but through the unconscious."
Here are some tricks of the menu-writing trade that Kershaw shares:
They make prices as inconspicuous as possible. The use of dollar signs and prices ending in .99 tend to remind diners they're spending real money. Replacing $8.99 with a streamlined 9 can actually downplay the outlay, Kershaw suggests: "This is a friendly and manageable number at a time when numbers really need to be friendly and manageable."
They place expensive decoys at the top of the page. A few entrées priced at $30 might exist for the sole purpose of making $20 entrées appear more reasonable. "[R]esearch shows that diners tend to order neither the most nor least expensive items, drifting toward the middle," Kershaw reports.
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