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These typefaces can also make solo diners feel less lonely.

Mike Pomranz
Updated February 25, 2019

The way a restaurant’s menu can impact your dining experience might be more significant than you think. Where items are positioned can affect how likely they are to be ordered. The length of a menu can be frustrating if it’s too long or too short. Now, a new study suggests that even the font of a menu can change your perception – with participants equating a handwritten font to better food.

Research led by Stephanie Liu, an Assistant Professor of Consumer Sciences at The Ohio State University, found that using the imperfect curves of a handwritten font generated more favorable attitudes towards the menu, the perceived healthiness of the food being served, and social media engagement in general. “The results show that handwritten typeface creates a competitive advantage by conveying a sense of human touch, which subsequently induces the perception that love is symbolically imbued in the restaurant's offerings,” explains the abstract of the paper, published in the Journal of Business Research.

“The handwritten typeface conveys love, and that sense of human touch feels even more salient,” Liu further explained. “It feels to the customer like there is more heart, more effort, and more love in it, even though it doesn't cost any more money.” Importantly, Liu points out that the restaurant already has to have food perceived as being healthy to get this extra boost. “This wouldn't apply to a fast-food brand that sells low-quality hamburgers,” she added.

Additionally, the researcher determined that the effect applied to both group and solo diners, but as an extra bonus for the latter group, the paper suggests that handwritten typefaces can even make solo diner feel less lonely. “As a marketing strategy, customers are just subconsciously processing information, and they feel that human touch in the letters on the menu,” Liu said. “And they feel that the restaurant put more effort into the design of this menu and they are getting this product to you with more care.”

Maybe this explains why when I ate at that restaurant where all the letters on the menu were cut out of old newspapers, I kept feeling like I was being held for ransom??

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