The Psychology of Menu Development
By Andrew Mullins
A well designed beverage menu is the most important communication and sales tool you have for your bar. It is the only piece of printed advertising you can be sure your guests will read and, by the strategic placement of drinks, you can directly influence, not only what your guests will order, but ultimately how much they will spend.
Take a moment to consider one of the beverage menus in your property; does it actively help guests decide what to order and influence sales revenue? Now imagine removing your logo or name from it. Would it still grab your guest’s attention? Would it instil a sense of your concept and identity? Or would it simply be a piece of paper with a list of drinks on it?
In this article I will be looking at the psychology behind good menu design and how you can turn your cocktail menu into a revenue-driving tool; boosting sales and enriching guest experience by increasing the effectiveness of your “silent salesperson”.
1) Eye Magnets
The most important thing to consider when designing your menu is highlighting the items you want to promote so they attract your guests’ eyes; whether these are drinks that give the best return, signature drinks that promote the outlet concept, your ‘cocktail of the day’ or even the slow moving items you inherited from your predecessor that are cluttering up the beverage store.
Different type fonts can be used as eye magnets, as can increasing the brightness, colour or shading of certain areas of the menu to make them stand out. Framing or boxing off certain items or sections will also draw your guests’ eyes; highlighting whatever is inside them, and increasing the chances of them being ordered.
2) The Price Anchor
In the article I wrote on concept development, I said that marquee drinks requiring expensive ingredients or time-consuming methods should be highlighted on the menu for maximum effect. Highlighting them as mentioned above will draw your guests’ attention and encourage their sale; however, you can also encourage sales of other drinks by using them as a “price anchor”.
By putting high-profit drinks next to an extremely expensive anchor, you can reduce the perception of cost in your guests’ minds and promote sales. For example; by highlighting a US$ 15 signature martini alongside your US$ 50 marquee cocktail you induce your guests to choose the cheaper – yet still high-profit – item because, while it might look expensive listed separately, it seems cheap beside the alternative.
3) Sales Mix
While few of your guests understand the economics of pricing enough to do anything more than guess at the margins on specific drinks, they are very sensitive to contrast. Mixing expensive items with cheaper ones removes price from the choice; encouraging guests to choose what they would like to drink then decide if the price is worth it, rather than have them ignore drinks without consideration due to how much they cost.
4) Pricing Format
Probably the most common mistake made in menus is listing prices neatly in a column. This has the same effect as organising drinks according to their price and will encourage most guests to immediately discount the more expensive items. Using leader dots makes matters even worse as they draw the guest’s eyes away from the drink and straight to the prices.
A simple fix is to centre your menu columns rather than formatting drinks on the left and prices on the right. This scatters the prices leaving them more difficult to compare and encouraging your guests to drink what they actually want rather than just picking the least expensive.
5) Minimise to Maximise
While we would never recommend placing drinks on a menu that you do not wish to sell, it is inevitable that some drinks will be less profitable than others. These could be classic cocktails for example, which you may feel are necessary to be listed but that you don’t want to promote in favour of your house specialities or high-profit items. These drinks can be "minimised” by removing descriptions and placing them in inconspicuous positions, thereby discouraging their purchase in favour of those items you do wish to promote.
6) Drinks "For Two"
Couples are among the least price-sensitive guests [who wants to look cheap on a date?]. Valentine’s Day may have passed some time ago but you can still appeal to couples out for a romantic evening by including drinks designed for sharing. Adding a “preparation time” and promoting signature glassware can turn the drink into a special event.
If you do offer sharing drinks on the menu, remember to price them “per person” rather than per drink. As couples are likely to have more on their minds than totting up the price, many will neglect to double it and the drink will appear cheaper.
7) Descriptive Text
People are more likely to order something with a description than without it. When used correctly, descriptive terms can be very persuasive and allow some mystique to be woven around a cocktail. Using unfamiliar terms can also draw your guest’s attention. Not sure what ‘dry shake’ or ‘swizzle’ means? Why not order the drink to find out...
Andrew Mullins is a founder and director of Fling Bar Services
Fling Bar Services
Fling International is a group of professional bar developers and hospitality operators dedicated to the improvement of bartending, bar operation, hospitality training & guest experience worldwide.
They provide comprehensive consultancy and training courses including menu development, professional, advanced and master bartender courses, salesmanship and opening support.
For further information please contact email@example.com or visit their website at www.flingbarservices.com