Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Menu That Makes You Spend More

Sometimes subtle matters can have a significant impact upon what we buy and how much we spend. What subtle menu change can cause people to pay more?

Faculty members at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration recently conducted an intriguing study that found a subtle menu change that led to a number of people spending more money for dinner. Basically, they presented their test subjects with different menus, one with prices preceded by a dollar sign, one with the prices written out with "dollars", and lastly one with just a number for the price.

The study found that the later menu, with just a number for the price, resulted in an 8.15% increase in average spending. The word "dollars" and the "$" symbol both seemed to cause people to spend less, maybe because it subconsciously reminded people more of what they were paying and caused them to be more cautious.

If this study is valid, it would seem to make sense that it could extend to other areas besides menus. Maybe a wine store with price tags could omit the "$" symbol. Maybe a food market could do the same as well. In these harsh economic times, probably the less reminders about "dollars" and "$" the better it would be for stores and vendors.

This also raises the issue of what other subtle matters may affect our choices at restaurants, wine stores, and such. Does anyone have any suggestions in that regard?

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