Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Food MarketingTips and guides


There are various tricks, techniques, and strategies that a restaurateur can use to induce clients to consume more. Let's see some of the most curious.

Psychological tricks used in catering

We have already talked about how to build a menu and what are the strategies to sell better and more. Today, however, we focus on those psychological techniques that can be used to induce people to eat and order more. We also talk to the foodies, to those customers who want to recognize those ‘tricks’ of the trade used by restaurateurs (the good or knowledgeable ones). On the other hand, it is good to know the ‘enemy’ and also how to appreciate it.

Then: have you ever wondered why a seller buys when he is in front of another seller even though he knows the techniques? Easy: he is deeply affected by this charm because he knows how to appreciate his qualities.

Here, then, some tricks used by restaurateurs to sell more, spend more, get more food. Let the fight between foodie and owner begin!

Basic tricks: 

  • Increase thirst

Let’s start with what can often happen and is part of a traditional restaurant: add salt and spices to the dishes. A classic, isn’t it? Salt, vinegar, chili pepper and spices increase thirst. So you will order water and drinks of all kinds and if the place is one of those particularly expensive, the pockets of customers are significantly emptied.

Of the same type is the custom of serving focaccia instead of bread. Above you will find a lot of coarse salt. And you will order rivers of water and drinks, all diligently marked on the order.

The choice of a glass of prosecco at the beginning of the meal is much more refined. The restaurateur makes a great impression, the cover charge perhaps will increase of 50 cents, but he will gain in elegance and consumption. Yes, because prosecco makes you feel thirsty. And not just the prosecco but all the alcoholic drinks. This is because the exposure of the liver to alcohol (and sugar) causes the production of a hormone, FGF21, which then travels to the hypothalamus to stimulate thirst.

  • Stimulate appetite

In addition, bitters are even more effective. A nice Campari-prosecco offered at the beginning of the meal stimulates not only thirst but also appetite. In fact, the bitters are the kings of the aperitif. The term itself derives from the Latin and indicates a drink (formerly a wine) which opens up the stomach. The bitter flavors, in fact, stimulate gastric secretion and therefore increase appetite.

Now we do not want to create confusion and please no exaggeration. Restaurateurs are not evil geniuses, nor psychologists or biologists. When they offer an aperitif and a little focaccia, they are just pampering you, and they want to be kind, as they know that the attention towards the customer is worth more than 50cents or an extra ordered dish.

Psychological tricks: the size of a dish

The dish in which the meal is served has enormous potential. It can shrink and increase the size of the course. It all depends on the illusion of Ebbinghaus, as the circles are perceived of different sizes when compared to others.

It follows that a dish, even small, placed on a small plate, seems bigger than it is, so it gives the feeling of fullness. Psychologically, in fact, the size of a dish is decisive. So the same quantity of pasta – for example – seems to fill more even according to the serving dish. This is the reason why, in excellent restaurants, they tend to use large plates to give the sensation (often confirmed by the facts) that the dishes are particularly small, thus pushing the customer to order more. On the contrary, in other restaurants, you could find smaller dishes, to give the feeling of abundance to the customers. In the “All you can eat” restaurant, in fact, the plates are mini, so the clientele avoids overeating.

Psychological tricks: the shape of the glass

Using curved glasses helps not to let the customers understand how much they have drunk. Do you remember the glasses used in trattorias in the past? Those combined with red-and-white tablecloths? Well, those were just the worst. The tapered shape did not make you understand how much liquid they were able to contain (Is this maybe the reason why they got drunk so quickly in the taverns?).

The same happens with modern beer or wine glasses, whose shapes are more and more tapered. Plus, better if the glasses are low. Psychologically, in fact, a low glass does not give the feeling of exaggeration, while a tall one makes you feel a possible alcoholic (the horizontal lines, always, are synonymous with abundance, wealth and power, think of skyscrapers and gothic churches).

Psychological tricks: how to write prices

Pasta all’arrabbiata 11

Spaghetti carbonara 9

Angus steak 15

Yes, ok, but what are we talking about exactly? Euros, rubles, pounds, dollars?

The latest trend is just this, and they do it because this way it is possible to sell more by detaching customers from the vile money. They will remember it instead at the end of lunch …

So these are just a few innocent tricks or techniques that restaurateurs can implement and sometimes use without ulterior motives or just because they saw them in the trendy restaurants, those managed by entrepreneurs really prepared on these matters.

Do you know other tricks? Please let us know in the comments


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This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

Ambra Del Moro
My name is Ambra Del Moro, to be fair. I hold a master's degree in Modern Languages and for ten years I've been citizen of the world as I lived in Germany, United States, Belgium and Disneyland. For the moment it seems I found my place. In the joyful Foodiestrip Republic.