Psychological optimization for profitable menus

Proven tricks from restaurant veterans

We have talked to numerous chefs and restaurant owners during the last couple of months, assembling a list of the most useful hacks for creating the most profitable menu for your restaurant.

"A menu is just a piece of paper that says how much a dish costs!" Whoever thinks that, makes a big - and usually expensive - mistake. Your menu (and of course your drinks menu or wine list) is your virtual waiter, your printed salesman, who not only tells your guest the price of a meal, but can also do much more - if you know how.


No matter where in the gastronomy, whether in the Michelin-starred restaurant or in the canteen - your menu can convey a feeling of high quality to your customer. Or not at all.  Whether the price of a meal is high or low depends above all on whether your menu has been designed effectively from the point of view of sales psychology.

How to use price psychology to design your menu effectively and earn significantly more

Especially when redesigning a menu, you can make a lot of mistakes from a price psychological point of view - or you can make a lot of mistakes, depending on the situation. Read below what and how.


1. Menus: How to use psychological price limits


Whether you charge 4.80 or 4.90 for a drink in the catering trade makes no difference to your guest. The price is less than 5 Dollar. For you, on the other hand, your contribution margin may increase quite a bit - especially if you don't sell one of these drinks in the course of a day, but maybe fifty. Or a hundred. Hundreds of 10 cents make a difference - and that's just one drink! However, you can apply this system to the entire menu or wine list - whether drinks or food.


2. Let the price on the menu appear lower, even though it remains the same


How does that work, you ask? Comparing prices. The feeling for the value of a price results from a comparison. Namely, in your case in gastronomy, from the comparison with your other dishes and drinks, the prices of other restaurateurs or with the size of your guest's wallet.

The price perception goes back to the patterns and beliefs of your guests, which have been imprinted for years and are mostly completely unconscious. They are responsible for the perception "cheap", "expensive" or even "too expensive".

Priming, a form of unconsciously influencing perception and decision-making processes, also contributes to the effectiveness of these phenomenal price psychological effects.

So much for theory. But what does the implementation of price psychology look like in practice?


3. Why should I omit the currency symbols next to your prices


Price psychology studies show that prices are perceived to be lower when displayed without a currency symbol on your menus or beverage menus. This makes the guests more willing to spend money. Even a written out "DOLLAR" is better than the sign, but still lags behind the effect of a naked number.