I heard that the economic welfare of everyone depends on people earning, and spending as much money as they can. I’m not sure of the fine nuances of it since I didn’t dig deeper. But, if that is the case people are still more adept at earning money while they try to spend as little as possible, without foregoing comforts of course. At least that’s how it’s in India. And some people- in this case restaurateurs, put science to good(debatable) use to get as much money out of their customers-without the latter even being aware of it. Here are 11 sneaky ways in which restaurants make you spend more.
1. The menu exploits your reading pattern
Prior to ordering, you read the menu. But we don’t read all that the menu has to say. Meaning, we make our decision based on how much details we have garnered from the little we did read. This makes the positioning of items on the menu significant. While reading, the human eyes are initially drawn to the top right of the page and from there drift to the top left. Then, your sight shifts to the bottom right and the bottom left. To capitalize on this fact, clever restaurateurs place their most expensive items on the top right part of the menu pages-making sure that you won’t miss them. Also, there’s the science that human beings are three times more likely to eat what we lay our eyes on first. Incidentally, this is a technique some newspapers also use- placing the most important stories on the top right half of the page.
2. The more the number of colours of food, the more you eat
While variety is good and dandy, too much variety can be a way of making you eat-and spend more. A paper published in the Journal Of Consumer Research cites an interesting study. The study shows that when adults were given a bowl containing jelly beans of six various flavours, they consumed a whopping 69 percent more than when each variety of jelly beans was presented in six different bowls.
3. The over-the-top language on the menu
It’s not uncommon to see phrases like sun-kissed, farm-fresh etc. to describe the food on the menu. Research shows that the more unnecessarily evocative the language, the more likely-30% more likely you are to order that particular item!
4. Where you sit matters
A study done at Cornell University in America indicates that the farther you are from the door of a restaurant, chances of you consuming food with more calories, especially desserts etc. is more. Whether that’s true with us Indians is unclear. But these following things are universal, it seems -it’s observed that those who sit near the window or in well-lit areas of a restaurant consume healthier/less food-possibly because they become image conscious. Meanwhile, if you visit a restaurant alone andare showed to a small round table, you are prone to spend more time-and therefore more money at the restaurant.
5. The type of music in the background
As per science, mellower tunes like classical music will result in a higher spend whereas pop numbers bring down the spending by up to 10 percent.
6. No round number for price
This is something that’s noticeable only in certain restaurants(and in apparel shops). The food items on the menu will have prices that aren’t round numbers. Instead, the prices will be something like Rs. 399 etc. This makes use of the psychological property by which we perceive the one rupee difference as a huge bargain.
7. The bottle of wine
This is no rocket science but simple psychology we all have observed in ourselves. When it’s time to order a wine, we don’t wish to appear stingy. At the same time we can’t spend too much either. We make a compromise by settling for the second least expensive wine on the list. Little do we know that the sneaky restaurateur has raised the price of that particular wine and put it on the list.
8. Limiting the food options
There’s this psychological phenomenon called “The paradox of choice.” The idea is simple-the more options there are, the more anxiety we experience in making a choice. If a menu has more than seven items under a category, we are more likely to feel lost for a decision. Clever restaurant menus therefore limit the number of items per category so that we will make our decisions faster. Which also means they can serve us faster and move to the next customer.
9. If they bring you sweets with the bill, you are bound to tip more
Scientists have found that those who get a complimentary chocolate with their bill tip more than those who receive no such reward. It seems the idea of “sweetening things up,” clichéd as it may be is working for the restaurants.
10. Luring you with the smell of food
Again, something that we have all noticed. Science informs that the human nose is closely connected to the region in the brain associated with emotion and memory. In other words, what we smell may evoke strong memories in us. And if the smell of food wafting from a restaurant’s kitchen is synonymous with that of a food you have enjoyed before, chances are more that you will buy it.
11. The power of colour red
There’s ample scientific proof that the seeing the colour red incites hunger in you. Fast food chains are obviously privy to this bit of information. We do see such joints painted red all the time.
The bottom line is, when it comes to settling a restaurant bill you always face the probability of paying more than what you intended when you walked in. Tough. Consumerist. Culture.