If you like to hit the restaurants (and who doesn't???) keep this in mind before you open your wallet. Some very important lessons in psych here, folks. Use it in your marketing if you can. How restaurants entice us into choosing expensive meals Menus are not simply a list of dishes. Rather, they are a cunning marketing ploy http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/21/menus-cunning-marketing-ploys It comes as no surprise that the main goal of menu design is to draw your attention to profitable (as in "overpriced") items. But the detailed plotting that goes on is fascinating. Industry convention divides dishes into "stars" (popular items for which customers are willing to pay a good deal more than they cost to make), puzzles (high-profit but unpopular dishes), plough-horses (popular yet unprofitable) and dogs (unpopular and unprofitable). And restaurant consultants are often employed to transform puzzles into stars, nudge customers away from ploughhorses, and convince everyone that the prices are reasonable. This menu, for New York restaurant Balthazar, uses some classic tricks of menu psychology. http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images...64009416000/A-menu-for-New-York-reata-001.jpg http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Lifeandhealth/pdf/2010/01/20/Balthazarmenu.pdf 1 The upper right-hand corner The typical diner will look here first, and Balthazar isn't taking any chances, with a picture drawing the eye to the most expensive dishes. Photographs are among the most powerful motivators but, extensively used in low-end chain restaurants, they are considered death to any place with foodie pretensions. Balthazar's tasteful drawing is about as far as a restaurant of this calibre can go. 2 The price anchor Menu consultants use this prime space for high-profit items, and price "anchors", in this case the Le Balthazar seafood plate, for $115 (£70). By putting high-profit items next to the extremely expensive anchor, they seem cheap by comparison. So, the triple-figure price here is probably to induce customers to go for the $70 (£43) Le Grand plate to the left of it, or the more modest seafood orders below it. 3 Bonus boxes A box around a menu item draws the diner's attention. Is $16 (£10) such an indulgence for a shrimp cocktail, they might think? Not next to a $115 extravaganza! A really fancy box is better yet. The cheeses at the bottom are probably high-profit "puzzles". 4 Columns are a no-no The most common menu mistake is listing prices in a column, as here, because it encourages diners to choose from the cheapest items, instead of choosing what they want and then deciding if it's worth it. But at least the Balthazar menu doesn't use leader dots, which draw the diners' gaze away from the dishes to the prices. 5 Menu Siberia Unprofitable items, such as the easy-to-miss burgers, can be "minimised" by exiling them to inconspicuous positions – menu Siberia. 6 Bracketing This is a common trick whereby items are offered in two sizes. The customer isn't told how much smaller the small portion is, but no matter. They assume the smaller size is attractively priced because, um, it costs less. In reality, this is the size that the restaurant wanted to sell all along, and the "lower price" is what they intended to charge for it. Extracted from Priceless: the Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It) by William Poundstone.