Bigger Words = More Money

In-N-Out_Burger_cheeseburgersMost of us have probably heard the disparaging remark that lawyers are paid by the word. Turns out they are not the only ones.

According to Stanford computational linguist, Dan Jurafsky, based on his analysis of restaurant menus, “The more expensive the restaurant, the longer the words on the menu.” He found that each added letter was worth about 18 cents more per item listed.

He also found that less expensive restaurants listed items as being about the diner, as in “Diner’s Choice” or “Have It Your Way,” whereas on more expensive menus the items were the “Chef’s Choice” or the “Chef’s Selection.” Can we conclude from this that people who dine at more expensive restaurants are less sure of their own choices and need guidance?

Unfortunately for marketers his research does not seem to tell us which is cause and which is effect. That is, does using big words make food seem more valuable? Or, does more expensive food take a longer description to justify its value?


P.S. The image is of a simple pair of In-N-Out Cheeseburgers. Not expensive, but sure do look good. Maybe that’s why some restaurants use images instead of words.

This entry was posted in communication, market research, Pricing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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