Template to tempt: How restaurants use menu designs to sell thei - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Template to tempt: How restaurants use menu designs to sell their food

Photo: flickr/visitnola. Photo: flickr/visitnola.
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - What kind of food are you in the mood for? According to a Cornell University professor, the design of the menu you're looking at can influence your food mood.

"There's definitely a psychology of menus. We are not masters and commander of what we choose when we go to a restaurant," said Dr. Brian Wansink, Food and Brand Lab Director at Cornell.

A menu's layout and design, and the choice of words used to describe menu items are things which help determine what kind of food we order when we go out to eat. The more descriptive the wording, the more likely we are to order the item, and enjoy it. If an item description uses words like, "succulent" and "creamy," the study finds diners are more likely to order the item, and pay more for it.

"They're willing to pay about 15% more for the item. They're 27% more likely to take the item and they also end up rating the item as actually being, tastier after they finish dinner," said Wansink.

And restaurant owners are using this template to tempt to highlight the items they want diners to order more of, items that likely have a higher profit margin for the restaurant.

[Read: Final Menu Opt Project Methodology]

What kind of food are you in the mood for? According to a Cornell University professor, the design of the menu you're looking at can influence your food mood.

"There's definitely a psychology of menus. We are not masters and commander of what we choose when we go to a restaurant," said Dr. Brian Wansink, Food and Brand Lab Director at Cornell.

A menu's layout and design, and the choice of words used to describe menu items are things which help determine what kind of food we order when we go out to eat. The more descriptive the wording, the more likely we are to order the item, and enjoy it. If an item description uses words like, "succulent" and "creamy," the study finds diners are more likely to order the item, and pay more for it.

"They're willing to pay about 15% more for the item. They're 27% more likely to take the item and they also end up rating the item as actually being, tastier after they finish dinner," said Wansink.

And restaurant owners are using this template to tempt to highlight the items they want diners to order more of, items that likely have a higher profit margin for the restaurant.

"We put boxes around certain items that we want to highlight and that are our signature items or things that have a better gross profit," said restaurant owner Mike O'Brien.

Diners are more likely to want what they see first, according to research, so those items are prominently featured near the top. Those items the restaurant doesn't want you to order? Those are buried in Menu Siberia – down in the bottom corner.

And what about those diners who are looking for healthier options? While some menus make it easy for diners to find the healthier food selections, others are designed to push high calorie entrees and appetizers.

Wansink said diners looking for healthier fare should look closely at the descriptions and read between the lines.

"Avoid looking at those items that are like in your face and kind of read between the lines and look at the ones that are in the, sort of the smaller font, maybe a little less obvious."

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