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Successful Restaurant Menu Design Tricks Can Help Diners Choose Healthful Meals

August 17, 2014: 12:00 AM EST
The design and layout of a restaurant menu strongly influence diners’ food choices, according to Cornell University hospitality management researchers. Their study analyzed 217 menus and the meal selections of 300 diners, finding that food items printed in colored or boldface type, or highlighted or set apart in a box, strongly influence selection, especially of profitable items. Also, high-margin menu items given descriptive names – “succulent Italian seafood filet” vs. just “seafood filet” – convince diners that they taste better and therefore are chosen more often, even if priced higher and perhaps less healthful. The researchers suggested that restaurants could use the two tricks – catching attention and sparking imagination – to encourage diners to buy more healthful high margin items.
Brian Wansink et al., "Slim by Design: Menu Engineering Strategies for Promoting High-Margin, Healthy Foods", Social Science Research Network, August 17, 2014, © Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc.
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