Psychology-Driven Cafeteria Marketing

Standing in the cafeteria queue at a large furniture retailer, I found myself fascinated by the forethought obvious in the layout of the assortment of food as it relates to psychology and profit.

After grabbing a tray, the first options one passes are the desserts and snacks. Traditionally dessert is eaten as the final course of a meal, and yet here it is placed first. If you get your meal first, you might look at the amount of food and decide to skip dessert. If dessert is the first choice presented, the “Shopping while hungry” effect will most likely move you to grab a slice of delicious-looking chocolate nougat pie, or perhaps some cheesecake.

Next, a fridge with the usual suspects: soft-drinks, beers, mini-bottles of wine etc. All from the big brands — i.e. the most expensive drinks on offer. (You’ll see why it’s here in a moment…)

Following the drinks, you wait to be served your choice of a main course by friendly cafeteria staff. Just aside is a rack of bread, strategically placed to give you something else to do or look at while waiting — thus making the wait seem shorter.

Lastly, comes the cash register. Prominent is an array of various chocolates, chocolate milk mix, etc. Less obvious is a tray of glasses in case you would like to try the healthy-looking fruit drinks from the dispenser in the main dining area, or perhaps a coffee. By now, if you’ve already grabbed a coke, you have to wade back through the line to put it back in the fridge or ask the cashier to replace it for you — thus lowering the chance that you’ll switch from the more expensive drink you chose earlier, even with the free-refills offered at the fountain.

In the main dining area, you’ll find the coffee and a soft-drink dispenser with sparkling fruit-water and a healthier-seeming cola with stevia. Only if you got a glass earlier is this for you. Off to the side, and slightly lower to the ground is an ice-cream dispenser — coin operated: all to make it easier for parents to give in to kids who see it there and decide post-meal that they’d like an ice-cream.

So there you have it! Psychologically driven food-marketing at your big furniture outlet! I hope you find inspiration in this for your own marketing endeavors!

“Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart.” — Joe Chernov