6 things that subconsciously influence your customers’ orders

When you own a restaurant, you make sure that your customers have a good experience. You see to it that the ambiance is good, the quality of food is delicious and the service is impeccable to get more orders. When customers see a busy restaurant, it gives them the impression that your restaurant is good and that people want to eat here, so will they.

On an average day, your customers walk into your restaurant and see waiters bustling around, hear music playing, the chatter of other customers and they also have a long list of items on the menu for them to navigate.

This is how a usual day is, but what you don’t know is how much these factors influence your customers decide on what to eat. Some of these factors pushes them to purchase more and some, not so much.

A recent study conducted by scientists at the Cornell University, has come up with a surprising list of things that impact customers’ restaurant order.

Their waiter’s BMI

Once a customer is at a table in your restaurant, one of your waiting staff goes to take his orders and helps him throughout the meal. It’s excellent customer service, but you may not know that your waiters BMI is a direct influence on what you eat or drink during their meal.


A study published by the journal Environment & Behavior showed that people were more likely to order dessert when they had heavier waiters. The effect was substantially more on slimmer people. Scientists say that, when customers have a heavy waiter, their mind subconsciously thinks “What the heck? Let’s live it up” and they end up ordering more.

So, it’s better to keep your waiters healthy in order to keep your business healthier.

Their Companion’s Weight

When customers are dining with their friend of a bigger body size, they are more likely to order unhealthy food. Research shows that such customers reduce ordering healthy food, even if their companion is ordering healthy.

The Ambiance


Customers love coming to fancy restaurants with soft music and dim lighting because it makes the dining experience so much better. Researchers found that even when eating fast food, if the setting is of fine dining, customers are likely to eat slowly and lesser than people eating the same type of food at a typical fast food joint. Customers also claimed that fine dining setting made the food more enjoyable.

Now, do you want your customers to enjoy their food or just order more? Build your ambience on your customer satisfaction goals.

The Food Names

It’s not a secret that the names of food items in a restaurant’s menu affect what customers order. People are more likely to order food that has a descriptive name than the ones with a simple and straight-forward name. For example, think succulent Italian pasta with seafood marinated in spicy sauce vs. seafood pasta.

Studies reveal that people think the food with a descriptive name is more delicious than the simple one, even though they are the exact same food. People were even willing to pay 12% more for the descriptive ones. So, you can plan your menu better by providing descriptions for each item, ensuring that your customers purchase more at your restaurant.

The Order of Food in a Buffet

If your restaurant offers buffet, you’d be interested to know that people usually stock up on the food items they see first. PLOS One study showed that the food placed at the beginning of the buffet line is eaten the most and it also influences what you eat next.

For the study, they created two buffet lines, one with healthy food placed first and one with not-so-healthy food. 86% people had healthy food when offered first and only 55% ate fruits when it was last in the order. On the other hand, 75% ate cheesy eggs when it was first in the buffet order, and only 29% took them when it was found last.

The Restaurant’s Specials

Everyone is a bit lazy when it comes to ordering food at a restaurant. It’s either that or they are very conflicted about what to order when they have so many choices. A study by the journal Psychology & Marketing showed people were more likely to order the special items of the menu or the items the waiter points out to them.


This is the best way to direct your customers’ choices into ordering the best dishes at your restaurant. This will encourage the customers to visit again, as they ‘loved the food so much the last time they were here.’

The subconscious is a powerful thing. The next time customers visit your restaurant, keep these things in mind and navigate your restaurant ambiance and characteristics to make your customers, loyal customers always.

Shalini Prasad

She has been a content specialist for more than four years. She is a passionate reader and loves to read about Science, Philosophy, History and Psychology. She also enjoys sci-fi books and general fiction.

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