This not about what you put on your menu, but rather where you put it on your menu.
Study counters prevailing restaurant menu theories New data shows consumers read menus like books, pick entrées first
February 6, 2012 | By Ron Ruggless
New university research has debunked prevailing theories about how customers read restaurant menus, and instead showcases new data supporting a book-like approach to menu reading, as well as customers’ entrée-focused decision-making process when it comes to choosing a meal.
Scientific research just published by Sybil Yang, assistant professor of hospitality and tourism management at San Francisco State University, indicates customers read two-page menus like they would a book, meaning their eyes don’t flit about and land on a “sweet spot.” That sweet spot was previously believed to be above the midline on the right-hand page.
Yang found people read the menu sequentially like a book, moving from left to right and down the pages of the two-page menu. They read slowly, suggesting that they were reading for information rather than just scanning the pages.
While debunking the “sweet spot” theory, Yang did, however, find menu “sour spots” in her research, which was conducted with 25 subjects in 2008. The menus were printed in black ink on cream stock with the only box being around the antipasto category. Subjects read through the mock menu and then choose a meal. Her research used sequence averaging, such as that used in word-processing spell checkers and DNA sequencing.
The sour spot was found to be at the bottom of the page in the right- and left-hand corners, Yang said. That area contained information about the restaurant and a list of salads.
Yang’s peer-reviewed research, "Eye Movements on Restaurant Menus: A Revisitation on Gaze Motion and Consumer Scanpaths," was published last week in the International Journal of Hospitality Management.
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