Diners often read menus as speed-readers. They spend less than two minutes looking over an unfamiliar restaurant menu, says Gallup.

So the best grocerant menus fill a tall order efficiently. They encourage spending by subtly steering diners to dishes that align with their brand image, are higher-priced, differentiate, build confidence in the eatery, are edgy, and entice in other ways. Here’s how:

  • Use language that relates to your audiences. Are they hipsters, young families, or more senior and refined? Bring the right words, tone and cadence to each grocerant concept, understanding each appeals to different groups at different times for different eating occasions. Align with the way they speak to increase comfort and help set dining expectations.
  • Engage with sensory descriptors that raise sales and diner satisfaction. Wouldn’t you feel better ordering ‘succulent Italian seafood filet’ rather than ‘seafood filet’? Of course. Evocative labels such as “tender” and “satin,” nostalgic terms such as “homestyle” and “Grandma’s,” and cultural/geographic references such as “Cajun” and “Italian” bring a real payoff: 27% higher sales and more satisfied diners, says Dr. Brian Wansink, director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University.
  • Position items, use color to best advantage. Highlight the items you want to sell most – often the highest-priced ones – in the upper right-hand corner. That’s the menu’s prime real estate. In vertical menus, the top and bottom items draw the most attention. Red and blue colors tend to trigger appetite, researchers say.
  • Keep pricing simple. Too many price tiers on a menu can confuse and frustrate diners with a budget in mind. It is therefore effective to set off premium dishes at higher prices in boxes, which capture attention and implicitly let people know these are outliers.
  • Stick to your core brand, but be a little trendy too. This is a good place to add creativity to the menu, because diners are more open to experiment with new tastes in appetizers or small plates. According to Datassential MenuTrends, 65% of consumers say they ate their most recent appetizer away from home. TGI Fridays has committed to its endless appetizers program to entice longer visits and more drink purchases.
  • Emphasize local sourcing when appropriate. This connotes freshness and support of local growers, a dual plus for many diners. Supermarket grocerants may want to add a statement that these same local ingredients are available for purchase in the store.