The Research On Menu Reading

Some things that amuse me…rhinos (hence the name of my company), the E-Trade baby commercials (see the superbowl ad), and stories about market research actually being used in industry (hence this blog post).

customers reading menuI came across this article from and corresponding draft report about how people read menus in restaurants.

It was generally believed that menu reading was generally started on the upper right half of the menu, “the sweet spot”, then went in a scattered approach. However, the study showed that people tended to read a menu like a book.

In the past, many restaurants place the items they hope to sell the most in this “sweet spot” area. Although, this approach is a strategy, it is typically grouped with colorful text and highlighted boxes, all of which menu designers use to catch a diner’s wandering eye.

Now last week I blogged about newer research methodologies and biometrics, or eye tracking, was one of them. However, the scan pattern that has been used by a number of restaurants had little actual data behind it based on the report provided by San Francisco State University researcher Sybil Yang. “The restaurant industry has been piggybacking off past research,” said Yang, without having the resources to test ideas like the sweet spot. “It’s like a bad rumor that just kept perpetuating.”

There was, however, a “sour spot”. It was where ever the salads ended up being on the menu.

How does this go with any recent menu changes that you have made? Would you change your menu layout or offering based on this?

–J. Nolfo helps companies understand their market and customers though a variety of market research strategies. He has over ten years of experience of market research for strategic planning purposes. He is the Director of Research at Rhino Market Research. He shares his thoughts about market research and business concepts with his blog “Pensare…Understanding Market Research in Business“. If you would like to discuss this blog or how J. can help you understand your market and customer needs, email him at



About J. Nolfo
Well...there is a lot to know. #Cx, #Analytics, #SM, Specialty #AgChem, #StL sports, & more. FT @BASFAgProducts. @Mizzou Alum. Supporter of the #Rhino. Tweets my own. #SMMW17 attendee....Dad...Hiker...Scouter...and so much more.

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