A team of scientists analysing how menu descriptions effects customer ordering habits and how they perceive dishes has found that menu items listened with descriptive texts can sell up to 28% better than the exact same dishes with plainer descriptions.
The study was carried out by Brian Wansink, professor of consumer behaviour at Cornell University, and analysed information from 200 different menus and 300 diners.
The Telegraph reports the team took a dish listed as ‘seafood filet’ and changed the description to ‘Succulent Italian Seafood Filet’, ‘red beans and rice’ was switched to ‘Cajun Red Beans and Rice’. In both instances the menu items with more descriptive texts sold higher than those without, diners even rated the elaborately named dishes as tastier and said they were willing to pay more, sometimes as high as 12%, for the descriptive dishes.
The study also analysed how menu designs of fonts, highlighted items or dishes placed inside a special box on the menu can encourage diners to order specific dishes. Wansink went as far as to say that ‘in most cases, these are the least healthy items on the menu."
It’s certainly interesting to see that what many diners list as one of their top pet peeves is actually a strong tool for restaurants. Wansink, who is the co-author of, Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life, actually suggests that using some of the findings a restaurant could potentially help guide diners to make healthier choices on the menu. Below you can see an example menu he has created to show off the idea.