Menu Psychology

5 Menu Psychology Strategies Restaurants Uses To Influence Their Customers in 2023

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A few months ago,

I was explaining to friends how restaurants usually decide to design their menu,

Then I got asked,

Why do feel like I’m mentally being pushed to buy a certain item?

And then it reminded me of how important menu psychology was,

So I decided to write this article today,

And as mentioned,

We will be talking about the 4 menu psychology strategies,

That successful restaurants are using to increase their revenue,

And here is what we will cover:

  1. Color psychology
  2. Interaction Psychology
  3. Design Psychology
  4. Pricing Psychology


If you want to learn about any specific section,

Feel free to jump straight to it,

But let’s get started with some of the colors that make our feelings change.


Color Psychology


When it comes to Your Restaurant interior design,

Colors play a big role in the perception and expectations of your brand in the customers’ eyes,

In fact,

You should make sure that when you are developing your concept,

You are choosing a color for your brand that makes sense and that is in line with the concept itself,

But first I need to share with you some of the psychological effects of a couple of colors:


Color Psychology In Restaurants


A. Red:

The red color is used by various restaurants for many reasons,

These colors tend to remind us of blood, love, romance, meat,

Think of the biggest brand in the world:

  • Coca-Cola
  • McDonald
  • KFC
  • Heinz


What do you feel when you go to those restaurants?

Well red color has shown to be a strong stimulant that:

  • Increase the heart rate
  • Increase the blood pressure


And thus, this causes an increase in appetite.

Using red colors in your overall design would be great for a fast food concept as you want a turnover,

And red colors does just that,


Red Restaurant


B. Green:

If you see this type of color in a restaurant,

What do you think?

Green restaurant


If those came to your mind:

  • Relaxing
  • Healthy food
  • Plant-based
  • Organic


Then you were right,

The green color is a mid-stimulant,

This means that it doesn’t increase appetite as much as the red color,


Pairing it with an eco-friendly restaurant concept,

Would make sense and would give the guests a sensation of safety and relaxing thoughts.


C. Blue:

Blue is actually one of those colors that are considered suppressants,

Meaning that they actually decrease appetite,

So you might think,

Well, what is the point of using these colors for my restaurant?

Think about that,

Where have you seen blue in a restaurant for the last time,

And what was your emotional state,

Let me show you a couple of examples,

Blue restaurant


Now as you can see,

Those are all coffeeshops or seafood restaurants,

In fact,

Blue colors produce a feeling of peacefulness, spirituality, and sincerity,

And what’s better than sitting with a cup of coffee, and relaxing while reading a nice book.


D. Yellow

Yellow is also a strong stimulant as it is derived from the red,


It doesn’t quit the same feeling as the red colors,


The yellow color makes one feel happier and more energetic,

Therefore it also increases the appetite,

Think about that,

Why do you think Mcdonald’s is the biggest restaurant chain in the world?




That’s a pretty good combination when you think about it.



Interaction Psychology


In this section, I want to give you a couple of tips you use to increase your sales and your customer satisfaction,

What does interaction psychology mean?


It is basically the psychological technics that restaurants use,

To influence the customers during their interaction with the menu,

This means that what we are trying to influence here,

Is the first interaction that customers have with the menu,

And we have 4 tricks that big brands use:


A. Reading pattern

The first thing you need to know is,

Is that the reading pattern will vary depending on the type of menu that your restaurant has,

However there is a general rule of thumb,

You will see that most of the time the most expensive, or most profitable menu,

Is located in the upper right corner,

This is because studies have shown that it is the first section that the human eye focuses on,

Now you can influence this by playing with the menu style or the typography,

But keep this in mind when designing your menu.


B. First Impression

This seems logical,

And it is,

But as easy as it might sound,

I can’t even count the number of times I went to a restaurant and when I saw the menu I thought:

“What the hell is even that?”

So think about that,

If your menu does not have eye-catching features,

Well for guests it will be like any other menu,

And when the guests have a first good impression of your menu,

They tend to spend more as they are more comfortable and happy being here.


C. Limited Choice

Have you ever been to a restaurant where the menu looked way too long?

And what was your feeling?

I personally felt overwhelmed and lost,

And that is the reason why you should find the sweet spot between too much and too few dishes,

Moreover, a smaller menu will also allow you to better manage your inventory,

Therefore reducing costs and increasing the bottom line.


D. Language Used

There are many types of language you can use,

But this will depend on your concept,

You can try to make the customer nostalgic by using “grandma languages”

Or if your concept Is to have a restaurant where everyone is rude,

Then your menu should be the same way,

Just for you to know that the language used can have an impact on how the customer will feel and ultimately make his purchasing decision.


Design Psychology



Here we will be touching on some design tactics you can use to make the design of your menu more appealing,

By utilizing menu psychology strategies,


A. Long description

A long description for each dish is always a good thing,

Maybe you don’t want to put a description for every single dish,

But at least you should consider implementing those in your most profitable ones,

Those are the reasons why:

  • Gives more understanding about the dish
  • Gives the guests a feeling of trust
  • Influence guests towards one dish or the other



B. Stimulate appetite

There are many ways you can stimulate appetite,

And one of them is using great descriptive pictures of the dish,

Have you ever seen this type of picture in a dish,



If I show you this type of picture:


poached egg with vegetables and tomatoes on blue plate


You don’t feel the same right,

Well, that’s how you should descriptive pictures to stimulate the appetite of the guests.


C. Influence on the most profitable item

This is the main goal of any menu design,

And determining which dish is the most profitable comes with a menu engineering analysis,

But bringing the guest’s attention to the most profitable dish comes with various techniques such as:


Menu visual influence


D. Menu merchandising

Using menu merchandise is another technique that restaurants use to display certain items in a certain manner,

And here are some examples of menu merchandise:


Menu Merchandising


Pricing psychology



In this section,

I just wanted to share with you some pricing psychology tactics that restaurants generally use,

However if you want to go into more details about restaurant pricing,

This whole guide does just that,

Now let’s get started with a couple of strategies that restaurants used when thinking about menu psychology:


A. Untapped Currency

This is a price manipulation technique where restaurants don’t specify the currency sign next to the price,

And while that sounds normal,

It actually decreases our price sensitivity and increases the overall guests spending,

When paired with another price manipulation tactic,

Which is to make the guests feel like they are paying less by doing that,


This has been shown to increase the guest’s spend at an incredible rate.


B. Expensive At the top

This is tied to the reading pattern,

As the human eyes firstly go to the upper right corner,

It would be natural to put the most expensive,

Or the most profitable items in that space,


C. Too low can be too bad

Sometimes when you go through your inventory or your menu engineering analysis you will find out that:

  • Some items are neither profitable nor popular
  • Some items that are perishable will soon be expired


Your first reaction will then be to reduce the imposed price,

Which at some point makes sense,


Most of the time the human brain doesn’t react well to that decrease in price,

And it tends to link it to a decrease in quality,

For that reason, you must be careful when using promotion techniques or reducing prices,

It could potentially kill a dish.




I hope you have enjoyed this article about the 4 Menu Psychology strategies that the most successful restaurants use,

But what’s next?

In this article, we have touched a lot on menu engineering without really explaining what it is about,

We have put together this great article that goes through Menu Engineering in detail,

I hope you had a great time,

Stay Safe and See you Soon

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