How Menu Typefaces Affect Restaurant Sales

I’ve reported on the latest ideas in menu designs before, but last week I stumbled across this article in Time Magazine from 2008, but still think it is valid and interesting. Research shows that not only layout, but menu fonts can impact a customers buying decisions.

 

“People infer that if something on a menu is difficult to understand or hard to read that it takes great skill and effort to prepare,” says Song, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the University of Michigan. “When I go to an expensive French restaurant, I can hardly pronounce the words on the menu, so I take for granted that it’s expensive because it’s not comprehensible.”

Similarly, Song says, using an offbeat typeface to obscure a dish’s description may signal hidden value to an unsuspecting diner on unfamiliar ground. That may explain the implicit logic employed by restaurants offering exorbitant entrees described with elaborately scripted fonts in microscopic print.

To conduct one of her experiments, Song compared the responses of subjects exposed to menu descriptions typed in a simple Arial font with responses from those exposed to identical dish descriptions in a harder-to-read Mistral font. Subjects in the latter group were more likely to conclude that the dish was hard to prepare and required great skill….To conduct one of her experiments, Song compared the responses of subjects exposed to menu descriptions typed in a simple Arial font with responses from those exposed to identical dish descriptions in a harder-to-read Mistral font. Subjects in the latter group were more likely to conclude that the dish was hard to prepare and required great skill.

… Song says that based on her findings, she might recommend that if restaurant owners want to give consumers the impression that their food is complex and of special value, they should consider styling their menus accordingly.

For menu designers, this article will give you plenty to think about. You can read more here.

 

Your thoughts are welcome

    • JDG says

      Dammit, you beat me to the punch on the Comic Sans bashing. I was going to say that a menu printed in Comic Sans would make me find another place to eat.

  1. says

    I dunno if I would think a menu in Mistral was describing dishes that were hard to prepare or take great skill. However, a menu in Arial might make me think the food was bland and uninspired. Then again, Tanuki has by far the worst-looking and hardest to read menu (with super-generic font) I’ve ever seen anywhere and I love the food.

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