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Have you ever fallen prey to tricky restaurant menus that have “unintentionally” persuaded you into spending more money? If you haven’t, then you must be an incredibly well-informed person or more conscious than most about your hard earned money. Without a doubt, restaurants use psychological tactics accompanied by flowery language to make their menu/dishes sound more appetizing and appealing. The reason they have to come up with extraordinary ways to manipulate, tempt, and drain the pockets of their customers is due to increased competition in the market and ever-changing brand loyalty.

Gone are the days when people used to associate feelings with their favorite restaurants and the service and value they had to offer to their loyal customers. That surely doesn’t happen anymore with such excitement level and enthusiasm. Now, restaurants will probably do anything to manipulate and trick their customers, especially the first-timers, for maximizing their profit margins. And, one way to do this is by designing expressive yet stimulating restaurant menus. To be honest, if anything is ever to be blamed for unconsciously encouraging you to spend more money in a restaurant, that would definitely be the ‘restaurant menu’. Trust me! The menu plots against you and your wallet—well, at least that’s what the veterans say.

Restaurants – From the Lens of Maximizing Profits

Looking at current industry dynamics, the restaurant business has turned into a very lucrative business. People are stepping into this industry with whatever investments they may have because it promises profitable returns and quick growth (if everything is put to perfection). You can only expect to earn repute or achieve intended goals and objectives aligned with the restaurant’s vision and value once you start to provide true value to your potential or privileged customers. However, creating a fine dining experience at a restaurant requires commitment, hard work, and putting your best efforts to the task.

Although people may not be ready for spending more money for the same product/dish that can easily be found in every restaurant around the block, an alluring yet motivating menu can make things go in your favor with a high-level impact. Business owners associated with the food industry know the significance of a high-level impact that can be created by visually aesthetic restaurant menus. This is exactly why they hire the expertise of pro menu engineers for devising the ‘fate’ of the business. A carefully thought-out menu with the right strategic placement and order can ultimately unlock the doors to success. Using psychological tricks helps restaurant owners to lure customers and increase their sales volume, which ultimately helps them to maintain a healthy business/restaurant life cycle.

How do Restaurants Trick Customers into Spending More Money?

The Ambiance

From the moment of your arrival, whatever you notice going on around you accumulates to become a part of a restaurant’s ambiance. Consciously or subconsciously you probably notice several things—from the theme of the restaurant to the feel of the overall environment, from flashy lightening to the type of music. Everything forms your opinion about the place. This suggests that the whole dining experience and a theme-based music resonating with the menu have the power and energy to boost the mood of the customers, which means they will be spending more money.

Use of Dollar Signs

Different studies have revealed that the use of dollar signs with the prices actually nudge or alert customers, which means they are conscious while ordering their food—perhaps restricting them to order less. Moreover, the usage of a dollar sign with the product description triggers negative feelings and biases. People sometimes feel discouraged or threatened to even consider the product. The staggering majority of restaurant owners have realized its significance and removed the dollar or currency symbol from their restaurant menus. So, they believe it is better to avoid it instead of dealing with the odds!

Careful Placement of Options on a Menu

The right strategic placement of dishes in a menu is all that is needed. This is why experienced and well-qualified menu engineers are hired for the job, to get things right—the first time! An aesthetically pleasing yet informative menu design can empower customers, without letting them feel that they are spending more money or crossing their borderline (budget).

Feeding the Imagination

A crisp description of meals along with the careful use of adjectives with the name of any dish in a restaurant menu lure clients. The model of feeding the image of the product/dish with strong claims such as ‘world’s best steaks or burger’ on the menu has gone obsolete predominantly because restaurants often used to fail in meeting the desired expectation level associated with the product. Instead of making strong claims, feeding or building up the imagination with strong adjectives like ‘sun-dried’, ‘oven hot’… seem to get the taste buds tingling. With intriguing titles and fancy descriptions, an ordinary menu appears to be something extraordinary and compels the customer to believe that everything will taste better. This ultimately tricks the customer into spending more money or expending more than their budget allows.


The above details assist entrepreneurs who want to set up a restaurant menu. It is also ideal for those who have old-fashioned menus. A powerful menu is one that assists customers and makes them feel something about the product. They will tend to probably crave more if that feeling gets stronger from the time they gave their order. If this happens, you will probably find yourself spending more money, surpassing your budget.

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