Believe it or not, a lot of thought, effort and time goes into the making of that menu you choose from when you go out to eat. While the restaurant wants it to be pleasing to look at, the main reason they focus so heavily on it is because they want you to spend as much money as possible. They achieve this by offering a menu that almost forces you to part ways with your hard-earned cash. Knowing the psychological tricks restaurants use to get you to spend will ultimately help you save.
1. Don’t expect to see dollar signs on the menu. This is because research shows that when dollar signs appear, people grow a guilty conscience and remember they’re spending money.
2. Restaurants use tricky, tricky numbers. You’ll rarely see a menu with prices that end in zero cents. This is because the value just isn’t “friendly” enough. Most menu prices end in .99 or .95 to make you think you’re getting a great value.
3. Descriptive language means bigger profits. Restaurant owners know if they describe their menu items in detail, you’ll be more apt to choose them. Using colorful language such as “rich,” “tender” and “golden,” to describe food actually increased sales by as much as 27% as compared to foods with no descriptions. Restaurants will also use brand names in their descriptions if they use them, because of course everything tastes better when it’s a brand name product.
4. Food and family go hand-in-hand. When menus feature items such as “Grandma’s Apple Pie” or “Auntie Em’s Potato Salad,” patrons are more likely to choose them because they bring about feelings of warmth and nostalgia.
5. Highlighted and bolded menu items are obviously special. Many restaurants will bold certain menu items or place certain terms in fancy font to draw attention to the dishes. They may even include images of the dishes to make you think it is special. The truth is, none of the items presented this way are special; they just want you to buy them.
6. One or two “expensive” dishes make everything else on the menu seem reasonable. Have you ever looked at a menu and seen just one or two items that seemed really, really expensive? Among all the “regular” food, there’s an elaborate dish that costs a cool three digits. Who buys that anyway? Chance are, no one. Restaurants know that if you see this high-priced delicacy, and then look beyond it at the rest of the menu, you’ll think the prices are pretty reasonable.
Once you’ve figured out their little games, it’s much easier to make reasonable decisions when eating out so you keep more of your money in your wallet.
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