Monday, June 22, 2009

How restaurants get you to spend more

An intriguing survey by the Culinary Institute of America sheds light on factors that make us spend more at a restaurant.

Researchers tested how much visitors to the Culinary Institute of America’s St. Andrew’s Cafe in Hyde Park, N.Y., spent when menus listed prices in numerals with dollar signs, numerals without dollar signs and wheN the numbers were written out as words.

Their hypothesis was that people would spend more when prices were listed as words, but they found it was the menu without currency symbols that led to customers running up the check.

The researchers surmised that removing the dollar sign helped disassociate the numbers from an actual price, discouraging customers from tabulating the check in their head.

There's more at the link.

Intriguing. I wouldn't have thought that the mere presence or absence of a dollar sign would make that much of a difference. I'll have to watch my own behavior in restaurants to see whether I react in this way as well.



Old NFO said...

I worry when it's written out... sigh... Usually THAT is a big number!

Pawpaw said...

Marketing isn't about rational behavior. Really, it's not. Most people can't give two good reasons why they bought a particular product.

I don't doubt the survey. When you're in an upscale restaurant your spending habits change. Hell, you can get a hamburger anywhere. Even at the gas station down the street. Or at Mickey-D's.

The best steak in Louisiana is the one I cook on my grill at home. I've got grilling steaks down to a fine art. Still, sometimes I want to go to a fine restaurant and eat a steak. It's not about money. It's about the perceived utility of the fine dining experience.

You are willing to pay more for that type of service. Not really rational, is it?

Pamela D. Hart said...

Hi Bayou: I just found your blog and it's really great. I just love the firearms links on the right!

The restaurant survey is very interesting. My husband and I were just at a restaurant Friday night that only used the number. I don't believe it had any effect on the way I ordered. I order what I want no matter where I am and I don't look at prices. Two reasons, if I am out, obviously I can afford it or I wouldn't be there. And as Pawpaw mentioned, one is sometimes willing to pay for the dining experience. However, my husband does our grocery shopping due to the fact that I don’t look at prices and he does. Now, when I’m buying clothes and household items I’m the bargaining queen.