Using Psychology And Neuromarketing To Entice Diners English Language Essay

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Ever find a waiter or waitress who touches you on the shoulder? Research demonstrates that those who touch customers typically get a bigger tip. The psychology behind this strategy is that touching denotes closeness, and we tip more when we feel closer to our waiter or waitress.


It was a Friday night and I was driving on the highway with my eye lids almost covered my eyes. Hectic schedule kept me busy from the start of that morning and yet I still have tones of work unfinished waiting me at home. Despite being tired, I still had to drive to the town to meet up my peers as I have promised to have dinner with them for donkey years. As I am heading to the town with the stereo's volume tuned up to the limit to prevent me from falling asleep, I stretched out my arm and found that I was almost late. At 7pm sharp, I managed to arrive at the place where we were supposed to meet up, a place where one can find plenty of exciting dining options.

There they were, waiting for my arrival and our conversations soon filled with roars and bellows of laughter. While walking down the streets in town, one of my friends asked "where are we going to have our dinner, guys?" That was the hardest question ever asked in the world as the restaurants serve almost the same kind of food and we have tried most of them. Everyone still tried their best to choose one out of hundreds of restaurants available there to settle on.

"Maybe that one over there." One of my friends said.

"No! The food served is overly priced." Another replied.

We felt as if time had slowed down just when we wanted it to speed up. When we were still making our minds, we stumbled upon a trendy-looking restaurant with setting and atmosphere that draws in young crowds. The restaurant was big enough to accommodate up to approximately 100 people. Its decorative exterior look blends with its romantic atmosphere naturally simply attractive enough to remind one of dining in Paris, the city of love. A waiter stood at the romantic candlelit entrance path holding a menu on her arm greeted us with a smile, made us felt warm and welcoming. The big crowds in the French restaurant suggested its food quality and hospitality standard to us and at that moment, we were highly attracted by that restaurant and decided that it would be the place we were going to settle down for our dinner on that night.

The friendly staff happily led us in and we were lucky to have a table perfectly fits us all. I noticed that the dining room was alive with budding youth chatting happily and loudly with their fellow friends. The fragrances of freshly prepared food lingering leisurely in the air made me even more starved and I promised myself to eat all I can regardless of the bills. Equipped with air-conditioned dining areas, we were quickly amazed by its gloriously intimate and romantic interior atmosphere with comfortable furniture and dimmed lighting. I vaguely recognized a couple of modern rock and roll music played at its maximum volume which also contributed to the lively atmosphere.

The staff handed over their French inspired menus to us and there was a silent among us as we all flipped opened the heavily designed menu and began to study it. Offering French fine dining experiences, its menu was filled with mouthwatering French cuisine from Steak Frites to Crème Brule. As I was still making my decisions, several dishes enveloped by a red-attention grabbing box quickly grabbed my attention. There were also tags such as "Must try" and "Chef's recommendation" besides them. At last, I decided to order one of the dishes inside the red box - Steak Tartare. Sandy, stared at the figure of Remy, the cute main character in Ratatouille the film with his chef's hat and cutleries on his hands as if he was ready to cook for you. What was Remy doing on the menu? Obviously, he was trying to promote the dish served in his movie - Ratatouille. Anyone who watched Ratatouille and fell in love with Remy would certainly like to try out the French vegetables dish consisted of tomatoes, onions, eggplant and peppers fried and stewed in oil. So Sandy ordered it.

Michael stared at the menu longer than all of us did as he had not a single clue for what to order. "Classic Steak au Poivre. I have no idea what is it but I would like to try it. Its price seems cheaper than the other dishes." So he ordered one.

So one of the staffs came to collect our orders. She stood at the table's corner with her gorgeous blue eyes framed by her curly blonde hair which added to the charm of her stunning perky body. Smiling ear to ear, she collected our orders one by one patiently which showed us her hospitality professionalism. After she collected all of our orders, she turned our attention to the rustic wine cellar which boasted varieties of labels from France, Spain to Australia. "As you guys can see, all our customers here enjoy pairing their food with our wide variety of lovely wine" she began to explain. It was true. We could see all the diners sipping their wines while enjoying their mouthwatering meals cheerfully and none of them were eating without wines on the tables. "I would highly recommend Carbenet Sauvignon originally from Bordeaux. It goes perfectly with meats." she added. I'm not () and hence I know nothing much about wines. I frantically searched for it at the wine lists on the menu and found that it was placed on the third among the list of wines. Each bottle was reasonably priced at $65 and they are not as expensive as the first two choices. "One bottle for us, please." I replied happily. In just a few minutes, we all had our glasses filled up with rich hues of dark red wines.

Our meals started off with a plate of slightly addictive Tapenade spread on bread. How we wished there will be another plate before our main course was served! Soon after we finished eating the appetizers, our entrées were served by the friendly staffs.

When my Steak Tartare was placed right in front of me, I laid my eyes on the (). I am not a great fan of beef but how could the steak strangely ended up on my plate? I was transfixed and totally clueless looking at the steak. I began to wonder if there was anything convinced me to order it. Nevertheless, I ate it.

That evening, I ate slightly faster than usual. I guess my eating pace sped up because of starvations and the irresistible taste of the scrumptious steak. Just when I finished eating my meals, most of my friends were already done with their meals.

We were amazed and surprised when () was served. At first, we though there must be some mistakes made as we didn't order any dessert after meal. Then the staff said "The desserts are exclusively free for our customers".

When everything finally settled, we request for the bills and decided to go Dutch. Everything went fine until the moment when the bill was placed on our table. The sight of it struck us like a bolt of lightning and our eyes almost popped out from its socket. I gasped while covering my mouth to hide my widely dropped jaw. The price was more than what we expected to pay. However, we were satisfied with the restaurant's irresistible dishes and helpful serving staffs who were eager to please. We think it is worth for the price so we paid our bills, stepped lightly through the door, said goodbye to each other and parted.

Seating on my comfortable chair in my well-furnished living room, my conscience started talking to me. Several thoughts crossed my mind and I started to recall back what had transpired a moment ago while I was having diners with my friends. Sipping my mellow smooth tea, I began to think what had convinced me to spend more for the dinner. I realized that restaurants must have some tricks to manipulate customers to spend as much money as possible. They might have added some "special effects" on the menu to entice us to order expensive dishes that we don't really like to eat. It would be interesting to find out what is behind the way restaurants can make more from their customers, subconsciously. Whether it is clever marketing techniques, scientific method, or even if I was just thinking too much lately, I knew there must be something underneath the surface waiting to be uncovered. I was eager to discover the mystery.

The Friday evening's dining experience of 2011 left an impressive mark on my mind as it stimulated me to investigate, research, experiment and find out the truth behind the mysteries. My one year's studies and research of what is going on in the consumer's mind allow me to understand that most of the decisions we faced in our daily life are actually made subconsciously. We thought that we are able to make decisions based on careful consideration and thinking, but it is Interesting to find out that most of our mental and emotional activities occur out of our conscious awareness. This included buying decisions which is made deep inside the brain and mostly out of our conscious mind. Why we buy a certain products? What influences our decisions to purchase? And even the taste of food can be greatly influenced by our subconscious mind. Neuroscientists agreed that decisions and actions that we made depend heavily on our emotions.

With the birth of modern technologies, neuroscientists are able to understand the mind of consumers and even mental processes in high degree of precision using tools such as the FMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging). After years of researches, a new branch of science combining marketing and biology is born - Neuromarketing. Neuromarketing can accurately pinpoint what causes consumers to buy and clearly understand their behavior.

But what neuromarketing is going to do with restaurants and how could it influences our dining experiences? You asked. The answer is fairly simple. Neuromarketing's application can trigger diners' taste buds and stimulate their appetite, control their eating pace, influences their decisions of choosing restaurants, increase diner's overall satisfaction and keep them coming back again and again. By understanding the subconscious mind and how to influence consumer's emotion, restaurants can apply neuromarketing techniques as a mean of bringing more cash from happy paying customers, subconsciously.

Besides Neuromarketing, my researchers throughout the year also led me into the explorations psychological principles that can be applied in restaurant. Most often psychological principles play a vital role on consumer's buying decisions and are applied in restaurant's menus which can dramatically make food seems tastier and worth for the price, easily cause diners to spend more, help diners to make order decisions and even make dishes on the menu seem relatively cheaper.

Exactly a year after that "unusual" dining experience I have encountered, my intensive research enables me to gain valuable knowledge in neuromarketing and psychological principles which is applicable in the restaurant's industry. In year 2012 alone, I have helped numerous restaurants in my country to redesign their menus with my research, flied all over the country giving advice to restaurants and gave them information about the stomach-mind game. It also enabled me to experiment different types of theory learnt from my one year studies to determine which methods literally work. Certainly, I am glad to hear most restaurants reported that their sales sky-rocketed immediately after applying both neuromarketing and psychological principles on their restaurants.

However, things changed on one fine evening while having dinner with my university's course mates. I noticed that they too, fell into the restaurant's "pitch falls" simply because of some neuromarketing techniques combine with a little bit of psychological principles. The result, they paid their bills happily while complimenting the restaurant and the food without realizing they were the victims of the stomach-mind game. Once again, my conscience started talking to me again. It was telling me that my knowledge isn't limited to certain restaurants that paid me good prices, but it is important for every smart consumer as well. That gave me the inspiration to write a book. A book which is important for consumers who dine in restaurants (let's just say everyone) to understand there is actually tricks used by restaurants to make us overspent easily and control our dining behavior. Thought it is important for restaurants to know how to increase their profits easily, it is even important for all of us to know the stomach-mind game played by restaurants to prevent being the victims of the stomach-mind game.

With all my experiences, studies, observations, experiments, and with God's helping hand, the P$ychotaurant is finally available in the market suitable for everyone from consumers who loves to dine in restaurants to restaurateurs who wants to profit more from their customers.

Chapter 1 - Psychology and Neuromarketing in Restaurant

Researches throughout the years have lead us to understand that we do not decide what we want to order on our own, it's the menu which decides what the restaurant owner wants us to order. Menus when applied with psychology tricks can coax diners into spending a little more money.

When was the last time you read "Honey Chicken Wings" on a restaurant's menu? It's probably been a while. ___ and ___ seems to be more appetizing and enticing that you would like to give them a try. Thanks to psychological tricks commonly used in restaurant menus that enable restaurateurs to earn more money from their diners unconsciously.

Chapter 2 - Neuro-Menu

Menu is a single piece of powerful marketing and sales tool for a restaurant to promote its food and beverages to diners. Traditional menus may enable diners to decide what they want to order by themselves. Now with some dashes of neuromarketing and psychological tricks added, restaurant's menus are designed to help customers to decide what to order. When placed on their hands, the menu can influence what customers will order and increases the restaurant's sales revenue significantly.

The Power of Adjectives

Have you looked at a restaurant's menu recently? Seasonal, hand gathered, crunchy, crispy, caramelized, authentic etc. These are some of the adjectives used on dishes' description and dishes names which will excite one's taste buds. If used properly, adjectives do increase restaurants' sales revenue.

Wansink, Painter and Ittersum (2001) conducted an experiment to investigate whether descriptive menu labels do influence diner's ordering decisions. Their experiment shows that approximately 56% of the customers in the sample had selected dishes with descriptive name compared to 44% that selected dishes with regular names. This experiment clearly shows that compelling and emotion-rich adjectives used in menus make food seems more delicious and appealing.

Clever restaurant marketers and giant fast food restaurants are using adjectives to tempt their customers' appetite and boost their sales as customers are more likely to order a dish that has funny, creative or interesting name with descriptions than the one with ordinary and common name with no descriptions. Take a look at the following menus:

Menu A

Club Sandwich----------------------------------------7.99

Eggs, bacon and cheese on whole grain bread sandwich.

Menu B

Farm Fresh Sandwich-------------------------------7.99

A hearty morning sandwich with smoked golden bacon, farm fresh egg and hot melting cheddar cheese tucked in freshly toasted whole grain bread. Great way to kick starts your morning!

Which menus will most probably trigger your taste buds? I'm sure the answer is Menu B. Note how the power of adjectives turn an ordinary sandwich into a mouth-watering and scrumptious sales magnet in menu B.

These adjectives used in menus are processed unconsciously in our mind all the time and can have huge effects on diners' ordering decision. Most often, customers will rate their dining experiences differently by saying the food taste tastier and the chefs are doing great job. Your dishes might not have any differences than somewhere else, but these special dish names will make your customers to think that they can only get those dishes at your restaurant (brand marketing). This will keep them coming back to your restaurant again and again.

Besides that, people are willing to pay more for dishes with descriptive labels as they seem more quality and worth for the price. "When products were given descriptive labels, they sold 27% more, and customers who ate them consistently rated them as being of higher quality and a better value than did customers who rated those who ate products with regular labels." (Wansink, Painter & Ittersum, 2001)[1]. For example, customers may be willing to pay $10 for a "Club Sandwich" but $13 for "Farm Fresh Sandwich". This is because simple descriptive language can stimulate customers' mind for imagination of the food's taste and make the food seems tastier.

Another way is to use unfamiliar terms in your menu to create customers' curiosity. Very often, diners will encounter unfamiliar terms found on restaurant's menus which will create curiosity and imagination of that dish or beverage. This will most probably lead them to order one to find out what it is and try it out. Don't know what a "Gorilla Punch" is? Why not order one to find out?

How To Use Adjectives?

Dr. Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University divided adjective descriptions that can be used in menus into four categories which are:


Claim to produce the same flavour of dishes that are origin from a geographic area. For example, Kansas City-Style Ribs and Atlanta Salmon.


These adjectives trigger the happy memories of family, cultures, and tradition. For example, Granny's Homemade Cookies.


Play around with our five senses by describing the taste, smell and mouth feeling of the dish.


People already like brands. If you're serving, like, Minute Maid juice, say so on your menu. Other examples include calling out a brand name ingredient if it's a featured ingredient in a dish. Like when you go to Chili's, they have their Shiner Bock barbecue sauce on their ribs. Which helps in two ways: people recognize and respond to it, and since it isn't something like Michelob, using a smaller, Texas-based independent beer gives Chili's a bit more credibility on the ribs front. Note that this goes double, no, triple if you're using a locally-produced brand.

As a restaurateur, what you need to do is to figure out what kind of adjectives work for your dishes and what kind of emotions and feeling do you want to evoke in your customers' mind. Hence, use your creativity to make names for the dishes that you wanted to promote the most. Normally, restaurant owners will charge these dishes with creative names with higher prices in order to maximize their profit.

To describe, or not to describe

…that is the question. Should you be using descriptions on your menu? That depends on a variety of factors. Are you using locally-sourced ingredients? People feel good about that kind of thing, so throw it in there. Is your menu already looking kind of cramped? Maybe it's best to leave them off. Now if you want to highlight a specific thing about an item that the name itself doesn't (and in a plain English way) that you think is of interest to your diner, then yeah, maybe. When in doubt, though, always remember: less is more. If people have a question, they'll ask. Not to mention that your servers should already be fishing for those kinds of questions.

Menu's Fonts

Cognitive psychology suggested that complicated fonts make things seem more difficult. If a fancy font which is harder and slower to read is used in a product's description, it will show that more effort was used to create that product and makes a false impression that the product has higher value. This theory can also be applied to restaurant menus.

Restaurant menu italic font

Song & Schwarz (2008)[2] from The University of Michigan conducted a research with 27 participants where they were asked to read a Japanese Roll recipe printed in two different fonts (one was easy to read while another was difficult to read). They were then asked to estimate the time needed to prepare the dish. The result shows that participants with the easy-to-read font printed on the recipe predicted that the recipe requires less time to prepare; the other participants with the hard-to-read font printed on the recipe predicted the recipe requires more time to prepare.

The same recipe with two different types of fonts were used to conduct another study where 19 participants were asked to rate how much skill a restaurant cook would need to prepare the dish. The result shows that participants claim that more skill is needed to prepare the recipe when it was printed in a difficult-to-read font than when it was printed in an easy-to-read font.

This suggests that restaurants with higher prices dishes could print their menu descriptions with a font which is harder to read in order to imply that more efforts, time and skills are needed to make the dish. This could make the prices on a menu seems more reasonable and they are more willingly to pay for it.

Different types of fonts or different sizes of fonts in a menu can also act as eye magnet

No currency sign on the menu!

Have you ever notice that certain restaurants did not put currency signs on their menus? For example, "Fish and chips, 18". Not $18 or even $17.99. This phenomenon is commonly found in chain restaurants but many think that there is nothing more than designs or they just happened to forget about adding the currency. Unfortunately, it cannot be further from the truth! In the world of menu engineering, currency signs could be the worst thing to be included in a restaurant's menu as it will remind diners that they are about to spend money.

Yang, Kimes and Sessarego (2009) conducted a study to examine whether restaurant menu's price format can affect consumers' purchase behaviour. Three identical content menus with different price presentation formats were used in the study at St. Andrew's Cafe at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

Dollar sign format: $14.00

Scripted format: Fourteen dollars

Numeral-only format: 14

(All three formats have completely equal meaning and value except for their presentation formats.)

Their study found that price presentation formats do have effects on consumers' purchasing behaviour as those with the numeral-only menus spent more than those with either dollar-sign menus or scripted menus.

This proved that any symbols related to money can cause behavioural changes and menu designers should not remind people they are paying real money for meals. The currency signs can make customers aware of how much the items are truly costing them and make them aware that they have to pay. Try to keep prices on a menu as abstract as possible by leaving currency signs and even cents off so that diners will tend to focus on the food and not the prices of the food. Leaving the currency signs, decimals and even cents off your menu will make the prices seem to be more abstract and less threatening. Also never bold the prices as it will emphasize the costs of the dishes on your menu.

It is also not a good idea to add extra two digits (.00) at the back of the price even though they are zeros and not important. Some prices on menus do ended in .25, .50 or .75, but it is better to round them off to the nearest price.

Staggered Prices

Have you ever noticed that some restaurant's menus did not design neatly and have their prices staggered? This menu trick is done on purpose as restaurant owners don't want their customers to simply look straight down the menu to compare the prices of items easily and find the cheapest dish. The prices should be placed few spaces away from each dish's name or description. Staggering the items and their prices break up the flow of customers' eyes to encourage diners to order what they want to eat and not by selecting the cheapest price's dishes.

Arranging prices in a straight line or align them beneath each other allow diners to choose the cheapest items without even looking at the descriptions. Using dots to connect dishes' names and the prices is also a big mistake that you should never do.

Extremeness Aversion/Anchor

"Decoy pricing" is a favorite of some restaurants. According to The New York Times in an article about menu psychology, "Some restaurants use what researchers call decoys ... 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. Or restaurants might play up a profitable dish by using more appetizing adjectives and placing it next to a less profitable dish with less description so the contrast entices the diner to order the profitable dish."

Some diners will still look at the prices and order their food based on the prices despite the currency symbol is being removed from the menu. Extremeness Aversion is a simple psychological concept that can be included in menu design to overcome this problem.

Take a look at the menu below, too many choices offered by the restaurant's menu may be confusing and we are most probably unable to decide which item to order. Besides that, the prices of the dishes are almost the same expensive causing us even hard to make a decision. But take a closer look at the menu, it has an anchor - the most expensive dish found on the menu. Most of us will look away from the most expensive dishes on a menu and try to find something cheaper, don't we? Well that's the function of anchor! If used properly, an anchor functions to make other dishes on the menu seem to be cheaper and reasonably priced.

Grilled Sirloin Steak, 23

Herb Grilled Chicken Breast, 14

In a case study, Restaurant A offers diners two choices of appetizers on their menu where Grilled Sirloin Steak is the most expensive dish. Restaurant A would like to sell more Grilled Sirloin Steak than Herb Grilled Chicken Breast as it is more profitable but their diners reportedly cannot decide which to order based on the prices as they are either too expensive or too cheap. Most customers ended up ordering Herb Grilled Chicken Breast causing the sales of Grilled Sirloin Steak tremendously low. Ultimately, they decided to introduce the third dish which is even expensive into that category and as a result, Grilled Sirloin Steak's sales on Restaurant A increase significantly.

Braised Lamb Shank, 27

Grilled Sirloin Steak, 23

Herb Grilled Chicken Breast, 14

Experts claim that consumers are actively comparing items and their prices constantly as we are very sensitive to contrasts. In the case above, Braised Lamb Shank, act as an anchor which is even more expensive is placed prominently to ensure diners will see it first in that category. This placement makes everything else seem comparatively less expensive and makes Grilled Sirloin Steak sits in the middle. Not much diners would order the most expensive dish on the menu and they simply "shy away" from the most expensive dish. At last, they decided to order Restaurant A's most profitable dish i.e. Grilled Sirloin Steak which seems to be more reasonably priced and makes them feel that they have saved money.

If you want to apply this simple phenomenon into your menu design, make sure those middle options are profitable for you.

Hot Spot on The Menu

The location of dishes on a menu can greatly influence on what your customers will most likely to order. According to a reading pattern research, the upper right-hand corner of a menu is the location where our eyes have natural tendency to be attracted first. As a cleaver restaurant owner, put the most profitable dishes at that corner and you can earn more pennies from your customers.

Menu Siberia

Menu Siberia is the opposite of boxes and hot spot on menus. Profitable dishes will be located at the place of the menu that can be easily noticed by diners. Some dishes are less profitable but restaurant owners cannot afford to take them off the menus will be located in a corner that is less noticeable. For example, mix seafood plate requires expensive ingredients and takes a lot of time and work to prepare is usually placed in a corner that is less noticeable. If you run a seafood restaurant, you will certainly offer mix seafood plate on your menu as customers expect every seafood restaurants to have mix seafood plate and those without it might lose potential customers. This is where Menu Siberia helps. 

Menu Eye Magnets

Boxes Sell Dishes

The simplest trick that can be use to trick people to order a profitable item or the item that you want to promote the most, is to surround it with a box. The human's eyes are naturally attracted and drawn to boxes on menus. A research revealed that diners are more likely to order the dish placed inside a box no matter what kind of dishes it is. As a clever restaurateur, reserve the most profitable dishes or the dishes that you want to promote the most in the boxes as they draw typical diner's attention. Make the title of the items bold and add icons next to them to make it even attractive to the eyes.

Pictures Worth A Thousand Words

Pictures are very powerful tool. People are more likely to order an entrée with pictures compared to those without pictures. By seeing tantalizing pictures of food and drinks can significantly increase viewer's appetite and make them want to try the dishes. This is why restaurant owners claim that dishes with pictures get more orders than those without picture.

However, using pictures on menus can be sometimes tricky as too much or inappropriate usage of pictures can cause your customers to get overwhelm quickly and do not know what to order. Pictures are also not good to be used in high-end restaurants' menus. Pictures only work if you are using the real fine quality images of your food to represent what you actually serving.  You will surely don't want to use some crappy or low quality pictures of your dishes on your menu. It is therefore important to get yourself a professional photographer as people can tell if you use cheap and low quality stock images. Low quality pictures with dull colour on a menu can make food seems tasteless and uninteresting. Hence, it is good to use pictures of dishes wisely. Try to put pictures of dishes that you would like to promote the most as customers tend to focus on dishes with pictures.

Less is more

Let me be clear about one thing: when using eye magnets, be sparing. As the subheading says: where eye magnets are concerned, less is definitely more. The whole purpose of an eye magnet is to stand out and draw attention to a specific point on your menu. If your menu is a million colors, has ten different type sizes across four different fonts, is covered in photos and every other item is boxed out, not only do you lose impact but your menu will be a confusing, jumbled, hard-to-read mess.

Used judiciously, eye magnets can help you highlight specific items that you want to sell more of. Just don't go overboard, because again, less is more.

Price Comparison

As you can see, the menu's costliest item is Sirloin Steak priced at $89 and it is located on top of the menu to ensure that it will be the first prices customers read. The role of this $89 Sirloin Steak is to make everything around it seems cheaper and reasonably priced. Customers to compare the prices of the following dishes will find that the Grilled Lamb Chop priced at $78 and Chicken Chop priced at $76 seem more reasonably priced. Most diners will avoid the most expensive dish and choose the other least expensive dishes. Hence, the second-most expensive dish is more likely to be popular choice and top seller.

Chapter 3 - Size Does Matter

Effects of Two Portions

Restaurants often offer the same dishes in two different sizes. Offering the same item in two different sizes will result in more order for the smaller size item. This makes customers feel that they have saved money and eat fewer calories for ordering the smaller size.

Size of the Plate

We all knew that buffets aren't going to make you that much profits. If you run a buffet restaurant, you had better to find more ways to make money from your customers wisely. You can by using smaller plates which will reduce the amount of foods they can take at one time. The same amount of food also appeared to be a lot when using a smaller plate rather than a bigger one. Ever wonder why many buffets start with an assortment of breads and salads that look attempting and delicious? It is because those foods are inexpensive and yet it will fill up your stomach up very quickly. Apply it!

Size of the glass

Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University conducted a research and they have found something that restaurant owners would happy to know it. According to their studies, consumers will consume a larger amount of drink when the drinking glasses given are short and wide. Tall and narrow glass however, resulted in slower drinking pace. I bet you experienced it before whether you realize or didn't realize it. This is because when beverages are served in a tall and narrow drinking glass, it creates an illusion that the beverage served is more. This is why some clever restaurant owners provide tall and narrow glasses for beverages that can be refill for free in their restaurant.

Nevertheless, if your restaurant does not offer an "unlimited refill" deal, always use short and wide drinking glass. Maybe they will order more drinks from you.

Size of the Straw

Well, this might seems to be nonsense and useless for you. But if you are "mean" enough to make more money, the sizes of drinking straw does matter. Some restaurants serve your drinks with big fat straws. The purpose is to make you drink faster and hope that you will order another glass of drink. Are you going to replace those tiny straws with big fat straws tomorrow?

Chapter 4 - The Psychology of Pricing

What Makes a Menu Item Worth More?

Consumer research points the way to a number of elements that can add value to a particular menu item or your whole menu. These include:

Premium ingredients

Appropriate portion sizes or a variety of sizes

Perceived freshness

Included extras at no charge



Select use of "natural" and "organic" labels

Non-menu-related elements of the value equation-service, ambiance, alignment with customers' needstates

Chapter 5 - How Do We Choose A Restaurant?

Have you ever wondered what are the factors that could attract people into your restaurant and keep your restaurant crowded all the time from the moment you start your restaurant business until you close it? Many would say that serving good food will make it happens. What they don't know is that serving good food alone isn't enough to bring customers into your restaurant again and again. Nowadays, customers choose to enter a restaurant more than just the food it serves, but also the physical atmosphere and emotional response found in the restaurant.

Exterior Appearance

How many times have you passed by a new restaurant in town and was attracted by its appearance? Since you have plenty of time and your stomach was starving, you decided to walk into that restaurant and give it a try. Thanks to the restaurant's exterior appearance as it did a great job for inviting a customer.

The exterior appearance of every restaurant is crucial for its sales as customers do judge a book by its cover. After all, who wants to enter a square block restaurant with only walls? The exterior appearance functions to draw people's attention and they will immediately judge your restaurant with it. Good restaurant's exterior design invites diners to dine in the restaurant as it raises their confidence of your business and reflects the quality of your restaurant. Bad or ordinary designs on the other hand, leave diners with no confidence to try your restaurant and they might also have bad impression for your establishment.

One of the deadliest mistakes restaurateurs often make is to neglect its exterior appearance with poor maintenance as they though that food is the only important factor for a restaurant's success. Dirty floors, peeling paint and wilting plants will definitely chase away potential customers as it shows that your business is doing badly probably due to poor food quality, bad hospitality or bad hygiene.

The exterior design of your restaurant include everything people will see from the outside such as landscaping, flowers and plants, design of the building, colours, lighting, windows, curtains and doors are important elements that you should take into careful consideration. It is important to understand that your exterior design is relevant with the theme of your restaurant. People don't wish to enter a restaurant with Italian theme from the outside only to find out that the restaurant only serves Chinese food.

((Creative designs often raise the curiosity that makes people want to give your restaurant a try.))

Regardless of colors, study after study reveals that nobody likes staring at a wall, so restaurants use mirrors to avoid the lonely, isolated feeling diners dislike. Anchored tables arranged in the middle of the room make diners eat faster, according to restaurant psychologists.

Interior Atmosphere

The interior atmosphere of a restaurant is composed of our perceptions such as sight, smell, hearing and temperature.


Our sight perception includes the restaurant's overall interior design, lighting, colour, space, decorations and anything that can be observed by our eyes. Well decorated, tidy and clean environment allow customers to eat in a more relax mood and give them good impressions.


The smell in a restaurant can greatly influence customer's perception towards its atmosphere. Since neuromarketing greatly emphasis on consumer's emotion, scent is a great neuromarketing technique as the part of human's brain which is responsible for processing scent is also interrelated to our emotion. When used correctly, scents have proven to create brand recall and increase sales significantly. In a restaurant, the smell of freshly baked bakeries, the aroma of Arabic black coffee or even the smell of lemon grass create a positive brand experience. As a result, customers will recall your restaurant and the experiences whenever the scent is smelled.

On the other hand, negative smell such as garbage, left-over food and bad kitchen odour promised to give bad impression and bad dining experiences to diners.


Not everyone wants the same type of atmosphere in a restaurant. Teenagers and youngsters might like to have their meal in a restaurant with noisy conversations and loud music but elder people are more likely to eat in a less noisy environment restaurant.

Restaurants playing slow music had longer waits for tables and much higher customer bar bills. Interestingly, although restaurant patrons did not eat more in the slow music condition, they drank far more.

Background Music

Research about how music affect consumer's shopping habits has been studied for a long time. Evidences suggest that the volume and types of music played in a restaurant can greatly influence on how much customers spend. Interesting enough, they found that when slow and relax music is played in a restaurant, customers will spend more time and MONEY eating in your restaurant. You will see your customers tend to eat slowly and in a relaxing mode due to slow music played. In return, they order more foods from you!

On the other hand, some restaurants play loud rock and roll music out of their loudspeakers, not because the owner is a great fan of rock and roll music though. This is because the louder the music, the faster you will eat (common sense), and the sooner you will leave. That means a faster turnover and they can serve more customers. Pure profit! Clever huh? However, this technique only works if your restaurant happens to have many customers. Please do not tune up the music if you only have few people dining at the corner of your restaurant at that moment.

Utilise this psychological trick wisely! You can play soft and relaxing music during weekdays where you have fewer customers and play loud rock and roll music during the weekends or peak hours where your restaurant is crowded.


Temperature is important for diners in dining environment as people are sensitive to temperature changes. Places that are too hot or too cold can dramatically affect people's appetite and mood. Normally, people would choose to dine in lower temperature restaurant when the weather is hot and some would like to dine in a warmer restaurant when it is cold at night.


How to Increase Consumers Spending

Research shows that consumers exhibit different levels of price flexibility depending on daypart and type of restaurant. For instance, most people are willing to spend only about $5 for a fast-food breakfast, but $5-$8 in a fast-casual or casual-dining restaurant. Most think $5-$8 is an appropriate price range for lunch at any kind of limited-service restaurant. For a family-dining place, the accepted lunch range is about $8-$12, but for casual dining, some expect to pay as much as $15. For dinner, price expectations differ widely; typical ranges are $5-$8 for a fast-food restaurant, $8-$11 in a fast-casual or family-style place, and $12-$15 for casual dining.

But in each case, certain "extras" would tempt consumers to spend more. These include cleanliness; great atmosphere and ambiance; and friendly staff. Unique, craveable and differentiated menus are also important. In terms of menu differentiation, consumers named bread baked fresh daily in the restaurant as something that would persuade them to pay a higher price; they also said premium meats would tempt them to pay more for lunch or dinner.

Hidden Factors That Might Affect Diner's Decision When Selecting A Restaurant


Cleanliness of the restaurant

Convenience of location

Speed of service

Variety of food


Internet connection availability

Discount vouchers/coupons

Special promotions

Food quality and specialty

Family friendly



Parking areas


Size of the restaurant

Seating availability

Chapter 6 - The Psychology of Colour and It's Effects on Emotion

The colors in your favorite eatery are also important. Red is considered an appetite stimulator, while blue and purple can make you lose your appetite, though blue is relaxing. The latter colors are too closely associated with toxins, food research shows. Yellow annoys people and gets people moving out much quicker. Fast food joints love yellow.

What is The Psychology of Colours?

Do you ever pay attention to the décor of restaurants? While you may be unaware, subconsciously there are certain colors that appeal to us and a few that don't. They affect our appetite and our mood, and it all comes down to psychology and where the colors occur in nature. Here's a breakdown of some of the most popular - and unpopular - colors when it comes to eating.

Red is an appetite stimulant. There are plenty of red foods, from tomatoes, to strawberries and red peppers. Red also stimulates conversation, so it's no surprise restaurants want to incorporate it into their color scheme. You'll eat a lot and enjoy your conversation.

Orange is associated with need and hunger. Oranges, carrots and salmon come to mind . Orange is commonly used in restaurants as well, because like red it stimulates hunger, and restaurants want you to eat.

Yellow is a sociable color. Lighting can adversely affect the yellow, so be careful how bright you go with it. Bright yellows are used liberally in fast food restaurants - think McDonald's. I wonder if they want you to focus more on talking and less on what you're eating.

Beige and Brown are earthy tones that create a calming atmosphere without suppressing appetites. Deep browns, dark woods for example, can make a room feel luxurious. These are also some of the most common colors in the foods we eat, apart from red and green, and it makes sense. Think meat, bread, and beans - protein and carbohydrates are important to our diets. Do you think deep browns feel luxurious, because it reminds you of a nice steak?

Green is a soothing color that aids digestion. It is also known to help you focus. Perhaps if you eat your vegetables, you'll feel relaxed and get more done. Restaurants can use green in their décor to create a soothing ambiance, setting them apart from a stimulating restaurant done in red or orange.

Blue is known to be a calming color, and a favorite of many. But when it comes to food, it isn't as popular. Blue acts as an appetite suppressant. If you want to eat less, try putting a blue light in your refrigerator or eating from a blue plate. How many blue foods can you think of that occur in nature? Blueberries are the only thing that comes to mind.

Do you feel calm and relax in a blue room? Does red makes you feel excited and attracted? Artists and scientists have long understood that colours can dramatically affect consumer's behaviour and emotion. According to scientists, colour psychology is the study of effects of electromagnetic waves with different frequency on human's emotion and behaviour. They are responsible for different emotions and feelings; some colours evoke happiness and calming emotions while others can raise our blood pressure and increase metabolism rate. However, people's feelings about colour can be different depending on your own experience and culture.

Colour and its Effects

Let's take a close look at different types of colours, its function and its effects on our emotion. The principles of colours can be widely used in your restaurant for your restaurant's menu design, interior design, cutleries and so on.

Warm Colours:

Warm colours on the colour platelet such as red, orange and yellow will stimulate a person's appetite and make them want to eat more unconsciously. Restaurant's walls, menus, cutleries and so on with warm colour can stimulate diners' appetite.

Red is an appetite stimulant and can stimulate faster heartbeat and breathing rates. If you want to draw attention, use red as this is where the eyes look first. Being the longest wavelength among the colours, red apparently appear nearer than it is and hence .

Red also stimulates peoples to make quick decisions as it creates a sense of urgency. Nevertheless, you should never design the entire website with this colour as it can be over-powering and overwhelm.

Orange is a warm colour that makes those who see it feel enthusiastic, flamboyant and excited. It is often associated with hunger and starvation. This colour is said to increase the supply of oxygen to the brain and at the same time, stimulate mental activities. Normally, orange is best used when a restaurant's targeting diners are mainly youth as it is highly accepted among young people. Negatively, too much orange suggest lack of seriousness and professionalism.

Known as the strongest colour, psychologically, the human's brain cells will be refreshed when the colour yellow is presented. This uplifting colour emits warmth and nourishment to a viewer. A person surrounded by yellow feels optimistic because the brain will release a chemical known as serotonin which makes us feel good. While it is considered as an optimistic colour, researches have shown that people who are overly exposed to yellow tend to lose their tempers more often. This is because yellow is the most difficult colour for the human eyes to take in and known to speed up metabolism rate.

Cold Colours

Cold colours have the opposite effect of warm colours as colours such as blue, green and purple are unappetizing. This is because not much food has cold colours naturally except for food that is spoiled, moulded and contains toxic.

Being the colour of the sky and the ocean, blue is one of the most popular colours which have the opposite effect of red. This colour is known to slows down metabolic rate and calm down the viewers. It is the colour of clear communication.

Light blues are often used to indicate professionalism, credibility, trustworthiness and can calm our mind to aid concentration.

However, when it comes to food, blue is an appetite suppressor.

Green is closely linked to the environment and symbolizes nature which can improve vision. Since green is calming and refreshing, it is believed to lower the blood pressure and stimulate creativity and is widely associated with money and wealth. It is located in the centre of the spectrum which is the colour of balance and strikes the user's eyes which does not require "adjustment".

What are the colours of robes used by the kings and queens? Yes, they are purple. Being the color of royalty, purple symbolizes luxury, wealth, prosperity and sophistication. It is the shortest wavelength in the spectrum and being the last visible wavelength before ultra-violet ray. However, because it is rare in nature, purple can appear artificial, cheap and nasty. Surprisingly, most teenage girls choose purple as their favourite colour

Neutral Colours

This neutral and balanced colour is the only colour that has no direct psychological effect to us. Too much grey indicates lack of confidence and is suppressive.

Brown is a mixture of red, yellow and black and almost has the same effect of black but it is softer and lighter. Brown is more positive when compared with black colour. This colour is associated with things being natural or organic. However, this is the colour of mourning in India.

Black is the colour of authority, power and strength. Black absorbs all the lights and no wavelengths are reflected on it, which indicates absence of light. Black also creates a perception of weight.

White symbolizes innocence and purity. It is also widely used in decorating and fashion as at it neutral and goes with almost everything. Unlike black, white is total reflection which reflects the full forces of the spectrum into our eyes.

The same thing goes with dishes. A recent experiment found that ordinary cupcakes without fancy topping and colours ignored by most customers in that restaurant. However, when the cupcakes were topped with whipped cream and few types of sauces with different colours (typically warm colours), the selling rate of the cupcakes increased significantly. This is how colours and design can increase your restaurant's profit.

Chapter 7 - Train Your Employees to Generate More Sales

Suggestive Selling and Upselling

Upselling and suggestive selling are techniques in which both waitstaff and managers should be well-versed. When executed well, upselling results in more profits for the restaurant and a larger tip for the waitress. When executed poorly, upselling seems pushy and results in annoyed customers.

For example, when a customer orders a vodka martini a good waitress will mention that Grey Goose is available, and Kettle One, and Absolut. She mentions them in that order: most expensive to least expensive.

A skilled waitress is subtle and reads customer cues well. She will suggest menu items (such as dessert) that may not otherwise be ordered. When she sees that a table does not want to order too much food, she will suggest sharing an appetizer. She is able to do so in a friendly and not an overbearing fashion.

Read more at Suite101: Psychology is Important to Restaurant Management: Understanding Psychology and Behavior Helps Restaurant Managers |

The Up-Selling Method

Believe it or not, your employees (waiters) can boost your restaurant's profit up to 40% by simply saying few "magic words" to your customers? It is known as up-selling which have been practised in the hospitality industry for a long time. Sales and marketing teams often train their employees to become a better sales people to maximize profit. In your case, you can train your waiters to convince customers whether they would like to try a brand new product, a must try dish or add on some appetizers which would be great if served with the entrée.

Don't feel embarrassed to use the up-selling method, it has now become the industry's standard. Ask customers if they want to add mushrooms soup if they ordered garlic bread and prawns if they ordered lamb chop etc. So train them with good up-selling skills.

Chapter 8 - Bystanders Effect on Restaurants

Chapter 9 - The Surprise Method

Restaurant Management Tips

There is more to restaurant strategy than training waitstaff to optimize profits. Restaurant managers understand how to make customers feel special. Customers are thought of as "guests," are being treated to the restaurant's unique and superior brand of hospitality. Managers create the atmosphere that the rest of the staff learn and maintain.

Managers are the mediators who smooth over problems. They handle complaints with the goal of ensuring that the diner will leave happy and return. An ability to read cues, to understand, and to make people feel better are necessary restaurant manager skills.

"People like to be in a restaurant that feels busy, or perhaps more urban," Chilcutt said. "People feel good when they're around other people who are having a good time."

So that's the secret: The power of a sense of community and shared experience, of being around others whose happiness translates into sound: the reassurance that one is in a cool place, the right place, because so many others are also in this place; can you not hear them having fun?

So that's why this lifelong loner flees the loud places and seeks out the deserted ones. So that's why so many of the restaurants I like best go belly-up within their first year.

Read more at Suite101: Psychology is Important to Restaurant Management: Understanding Psychology and Behavior Helps Restaurant Managers |