Episode 39: Psychology of Menus with Special Guest, Ali Craig, Neuroemotional Brander

Monday, April 10, 2017

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Let's taco 'bout it!

  • Sharon made some delicious non-vegetarian chilaquiles for dinner this week, while Winter tried her hand at lemongrass bahn mi sandwiches. Her friend Morse Code the Vegan gave her the recipe for pickles carrots and daikon--yum!
  • Ali Craig is our special guest to talk about the psychology of menu design (requested by our listener Joanna). She and Winter had breakfast at Sherman's Deli in Palm Springs and had the best cinnamon rolls EVER!
  • Ali is a neuro-emotional brander, coach and consultant, speaker, and a best-selling author of 2 books (Hello, Job and Pushing to the Front), and one coming out this year (Cinderella Killed Your Sex Life), and mommy to 8 kitties.
  • Cheesecake Factory's menu is approachable, small and nimble, despite how long and obnoxious we may seem it is. While larger, more cumbersome menus are often found in higher end restaurants to make you feel like this is a special treat to be there.
  • We start talking about typography and the feet (serif vs sans serif). If there are feet on the writing, you think this brand is older and richer. If your typography is cleaner, then it's usually geared to a younger crowd.
  • Colors are found often in a lower end brand, while there are generally no colors in higher end restaurants due to what and how the eye sees in the demographics of the 40 and over crowd. 
  • Size of menu: The larger menu at higher end brands will make you self conscious, but also makes you feel special.
  • Description on menu items: Lower end restaurants are telling you the facts, so you can make a decision. Higher end restaurants are selling you a story with more flowerly language. 
  • Better than your granny's meatloaf: A memory is evoked and it makes you purchase that item. All these emotions flood into your body as you order and the food is brought to you.
  • Placement of certain food items: In the west, our eyes go to the right due to how we read and travel. Your eyes travel upper left, to mid-right, then back to bottom left. Also, it depends on what type of game they're trying to play: The expensive dummy items at the top of the menu can set you up to think the menu items below it are a good deal. The other game is to have the most expensive "sample platter" at the bottom, so you don't have to feel the pain of making a decision.
  • Human beings don't want to be in pain, so brands are trying to make sure their brand isn't causing you pain. This holds true with pricing on a menu. "No dollar amount" on a menu is meant to feel luxurious. "Whole number" pricing is a smaller visual footprint. The pricing where the pricing is a non-whole number (i.e. $9.95), the price looks more real and feels like you got a fair deal.
  • Freebies were a way to save money, and it's a way to make you feel like you got a good deal when you're taking something home in a to-go box, just like Olive Garden's Buy One, Take One Home deal. It feels like a wise investment!
  • Appetizers, small plates, or tapas, started in higher end restaurant, and has trickled down to lower end restaurants. Small plates makes you feel like you've been good and can order dessert.
  • Stylized food pictures matter and started in lower end restaurants where the literacy may be in question. It would makes those people feel more comfortable. If pictures are in a middle to higher end restaurant, the food may not look like the stylized photo and the customer may actually send it back.
  • The US is weight-obsessed, so the separate, small dessert menu works the best.
  • Sounds affect our food experience. For example, the Chili's sizzling fajita platter as it reminded Winter of this podcast episode by 99% Invisible. On the other hand, misophonia can be an issue in a restaurant.
  • Fun game: don't read the adjectives out of the menu item.
  • Ali is offering a fun Restaurant Cheat Sheet to our listeners at her website AliCraig.co.
  • We, or rather Sharon, helps someone on what is allowed in a garbage disposal during our Food Fight segment. Winter had to look up what was allowed per Angie's List.
Run Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

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