Menu Engineering: Magic Rule of Seven

Menu Engineering: Magic Rule of Seven

Why 7 items is said to be the magic number, according to Menu Engineering - and what that means for your menu

A huge array of choice is not always a good thing.

Yes, it might be exciting to see 30 variations on the classic burger, but too many options can have a psychologically negative impact on the customer. 

If a customer is overwhelmed by choice, they often shy back to their safe choices and don't leave their comfort zone - so how much is too much? How much is too little?

Go for Seven

Seven is considered the magic number, it provides enough choice without being excessive. 

Try to provide, and limit, each section to 7 choices. This may be 7 appetizers, 7 mains, 7 desserts - or 7 pizzas, 7 pastas, 7 ice cream flavours. If big selections is your ambition, consider splitting up the categories into sections of 7 such as: 7 meat pizzas, 7 veggie pizzas and 7 house special pizzas. 

Bonus tip! Ordering your list

Once you have your seven items, don't just whack them down in any order!
Have a think about which of the items you want to prioritise. Let's imagine you have a bar with 7 burgers available:

  1. Classic Beef Burger - £4 profit per sale
  2. Veggie Burger - £3 profit per sale : least popular
  3. Classic Cheese Burger - £3.40 profit per sale : most popular
  4. Crispy Chicken Burger - £3.50 profit per sale
  5. Spicy Mexican Burger - £5 profit per sale : most profit
  6. Jack Daniels BBQ Burger - £2 profit per sale : least profit
  7. Dessert Burger - £6 profit per sale : most talked about, average sales
Already, there are 5 points to consider, with profit, popularity and also general marketing potential all on on the table.
In the example above, the ordering is fine - but it could be improved. As a rule of thumb, the first two items are given the most attention, then the last item. The penultimate item is often the most overlooked. Knowing this, we need to decide what we want to sell most, and reorder the menu to get the best influence possible. 

Here's a possible solution, although it'd certainly depend on your overall aims:

  1. Classic Cheese Burger : Go straight in with the most popular to champion your section.
  2. Spicy Mexican Burger : Perhaps you want to maximise profit, giving the second spot to the highest profit item will make it feel like an upgrade from item one, whilst also coveting an emphasised spot on the list. 

The 3rd and 4th spot could really be modelled as you wish, we'd personally go Classic Beef followed by Crispy Chicken as the profit follows in that order.

  5. Jack Daniels BBQ Burger : It's the least profit, but if it's been identified as worth keeping, fifth spot is fine. 
  6. Veggie Burger : As the least popular, with not great profit, we'd give this the worst spot of sixth. The importance of keeping the item would likely be to cater to certain dietary requirements meaning that the item has earned its keep on the menu. 

We'd keep the 7th spot as it is, as it's a good place for something different, quirky and that has a talking point behind it.

Food for thought!
We hope that this has inspired some progress in your own menu quests to craft the perfect menu design for your clients!
Let us know if you have any thoughts, ideas or feedback!
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