Restaurant and take-away managers the world over apply psychology to their business, this includes everything from the colour of the walls to the look and feel of the menu. Known as behavioural economics, these insights into human behaviour are used to influence spending and the specific food and drink that diners purchase.
In the fish and chip industry, customers are known to choose with their eyes or from habit. At a take-out they rarely pick up a handheld menu, instead they read from the wall mounted board or choose items on display in the heated cabinet. This differs from a dine-in restaurant where choices can be influenced by everything from the images on the menu to the descriptions given, the position of the prices or the order in which items appear.
These days people are looking for more convenient and even faster food choices. It’s one reason pre-ordering food online (or via a mobile app) for delivery or collection is popular with consumers and why more independent shops and small chains are investing in the technology. But how does the layout and design of a physical menu, mulled over in-house, compare to that of one accessed through an app? Can behavioural economics also be applied there?
The simple answer is yes. With the advent of mobile ordering, all fish and chip restaurants, take-away or sit-in, can take full advantage of menu psychology and benefit from tactics long-employed by restaurants in other sectors. Here are a few starter ideas for implementing psychology when launching a mobile ordering app:
When checking a menu, consumers regularly check the prices before the food itself. How those costs appear is key and a range of prices should be presented. It is important to place an expensive item close to the top of the menu, adjacent to one the restaurant is most keen to push. The contrast between the two items will make the cheaper one seem more affordable than it might alone. Want to push scampi over skate? Use this trick to do so.
A word of warning. Don’t leave the price of the expensive item too far removed from others on the menu, there should be a scattering of dishes priced at the higher end of acceptable for the target clientele. These costs will suggest higher food quality, and, by being cheaper than the big ticket item, the customer is more likely to select them.
As with cost, size matters; consumers are looking to achieve the best possible deal.
Offering food in two sizes suggests a discount, and this can lead to an increase in sales. Choosing the smaller portion might make the customer feel they’ve saved money, but, selecting the large cod and chips combination item will make them feel they are getting a lot more for just a small increase in spend.
A blast of nostalgia
Some restaurants will use creative descriptions to bring a dish to life and push a customer towards a purchase. While you can do this in the fish and chip sector, you might be better served by being imaginative with the names of dishes.
Customers are drawn to meals that create nostalgia – a dessert named ‘warm, home-made buttery scone’ will be a bigger pull than just ‘scone’. While you may not be selling scones, this method can easily be applied to the dishes you most want to sell; Perfectly Crisp Cod or Aromatic Chicken Pie sound scrumptious.
Clever use of colour
People react to colour and images and this can be used to your advantage when highlighting items to make a sale. Attract attention by placing a phrase like ‘Catch of the Day’ in front of a menu option and highlight it with a bold colour to draw the eye. Which colour you use depends on the feeling you want to evoke. Green suggests fresh food, red is an attention grabber that shouts ‘pick me!’. Orange, meanwhile, is supposed to stimulate the appetite and help the customer associate the dish as healthy.
I can’t emphasise enough how simple the science of menu design can be. Each and every one of these suggestions is easy to implement, all that’s needed is some time spent strategising menu layout. You don’t need to bring in external consultants or have a huge budget, just follow the steps above and you’ll soon see your customers’ average spend grow.
Mark Anderson, Director of Strategic Solutions, Preoday