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Having problems deciding what to eat?

July 31, 2013

Tonight at St Giles’ Café we’re delighted to welcome some rather brainy people for our first private dinner party.  They are called “behavioural architects” and their company has been trailblazing in the field of behavioural economics.

Many of us ( and I include myself here) are stumped when we face too much choice.  The more we see when trying to buy or order something , the less able we are to make a decision.  Its called the paradox of choice – too much can lead to real dissatisfaction and often creates a paralysis or inertia in making a decision.

cake decision

One aspect of behavioural economics, other than setting out to limit choice, is to create “nudges”.  Allegedly the UK Government has a ‘nudge’ office in 10 Downing St. That’s “nudge”, not “nudge, nudge”.

And so to eating out.  By and large Greek restaurants have the longest menus than any other type of restaurant.

Depending on personality type when faced with so many options we might plump for something we are most familiar with or we might reach a state of paralysis and rely on someone else to make a decision for us ( these people  are called ‘choice agents’).  From the restaurants point of view upwards of 50% of the customers actively seek help in making a decision.

In Manhattan there is a chain of Greek restaurants.

Like so many restaurants the menu runs to several pages.

There are the multiple variations of hot starters, cold starters

charcoal grills, main dishes, fish dishes, vegetarian dishes

side dishes, salads etc.

Pinned on the inside front cover is a ‘post it’ note, with five of

“Today’s specials”.

Actually “Today’s specials” never change.

They account for 80% of all the meals sold in the restaurant

and are the five meals with the highest profit margin

At St Giles’ Café , our menu is deliberately small, so we have no need for ‘post it’  notes.  And in case you are worrying about the behavioural architects dining tonight, they have already decided what to eat 🙂

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