Eye-Tracking: Why Your Menu Design Matters

We here at One Fat Frog love how technology helps us in our normal lives. Of course, businesses are also greatly affected by new technology with new ways to buy and sell merchandise as well as set up a business plan. In the restaurant business, we’ve learned with new technology can affect even how the menu is designed. There’s even a name for this new strategy: menu engineering (sign me up for that graduate program). The key component to see if your menu is engineered properly is eye-tracking.

Eye-tracking involves a tiny camera that’s pointed at a subject’s eyes. They are then shown a menu, and the camera tracks where the subject’s line of sight goes. The data is then examined to see where your menu makes the customer look. Graphics, highlighting, pictures, and the like can all affect where the customer’s eyes eventually fall. Ideally, you want your customers to find their eyes looking at the most profitable items on the menu. I’ve even heard stories of menus, when examined with this technology, lead the customer to the cheapest items on a menu. When that happens, the customer buys the cheap stuff, the restaurant doesn’t see the profit they would like, and suddenly there’s a problem.

So how do you make your menu more appealing to the eye? You want your high-profit items to be seen, and the prime area for that is about a quarter of the way down the page from the top. This is where the eyes typically fall first, so putting those items there will provide the best placement. Also, think of using a trick where you put the item you want to sell between two similar items, one priced lower and the other priced higher. An example of this is having three cuts of a particular type of meat of different sizes (like 6 ounces, 8 ounces, and 10 ounces). If you want to sell the 8-ounce cut, you put the smaller, cheaper one before and the large, more expensive one after. Also, consider using pictures. Some restaurants show that items that are pictured in your menu sell up to ten times more often than items not pictured. So take your profitable items, snap a picture, and put it on the menu in a tasteful fashion.

With these tips, your menu should bring customers to go to the items that will be best for your business’s bottom line as well as their stomachs.

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