If you were served two slices of cheesecake, one priced at $3.99 and one priced at $5.99 which would taste better to you? If you are an average human being you’d like the more expensive dish more and believe it was a higher quality food even if they were actually the same cheesecake. A recent article on the Time website announced that people automatically think food tastes better if it costs more.
Higher Quality Food or Just More Expensive?
They were citing research from Cornell University. Researchers went to an Italian buffet in upstate New York and studied 139 customers. The researchers changed the price on the all you can eat buffet, offering consumers the buffet at either $4.00 or $8.00. They then asked the guests to rate the food and the restaurant. They found that the people who paid a higher price enjoyed their food significantly more than the customers who ate from the less expensive buffet even though it was the same food.
The people who ate from the less expensive buffet also reported that they felt like they had overeaten and felt guilty about the meal even though both groups ate the same amount of food. Similar research has shown that people who eat in dimly lit areas feel that their food tastes better.
Use Research to Increase Profit
All of this is much more than interesting if you own a restaurant. By keeping up with the newest research you can give you customers a more satisfying dining experience and increase your profits at the same time.
It’s always a good idea to check out local eateries with similar venues as yours to get an idea of what they are charging, how they are presenting their dishes, and what customers they are attracting. Maybe you could increase your traffic if you priced a small percentage up and came up with a more sophisticated plating style. It doesn’t take much to update the way your plates look when they come out of the kitchen. Just spend some time on the Internet and look at the way the celebrity chefs and top restaurants are plating their dishes.
If your competitor has a boring plate of lasagna that is priced at $10.99 you can likely make the plate a bit more interesting and raise the price up to $11.99 or so. Multiply that by the number of plates that are sent out of your kitchen every night and you’ll soon see why small changes can lead to big profits. Using words like artisan, farm-to-table, and imported can make food seem higher quality as well. Just make sure that you don’t use a label on food that might be misleading. If you say your olives are imported you had better make sure that they actually are.
The idea is to present your menu as containing higher quality food than your competitors.
Coupons Aren’t Always a Good Idea
It isn’t always a good idea to run coupons and specials. Once again, always know your customers. A coupon for a buy one get one free fried fish dinner might bring in hundreds of extra customers in one restaurant while it made another restaurant look tawdry. Keeping your restaurant looking clean and updated is also very important when it comes to increasing your customers perceptions of quality and feelings of satisfaction. A chipped plate could cost you big profits — pay attention to the details and ensure that your establishment is considered to be a step above the rest.