Groundbreaking Research To Study Menu Design In The New Era Of Online Ordering

Study uses eye-tracking software to reveal how digital natives and non-natives react to menu medium and design

TAMPA, Fla., Oct. 1, 2019 — Revenue Management Solutions has partnered with the newly opened Center for Marketing and Sales Innovation (CMSI) at University of South Florida Muma College of Business to conduct what is regarded as the most comprehensive consumer menu ordering research in 30 years.  

The results of the research could significantly impact how the industry treats menu design, pricing and, particularly, online ordering, which now encompasses 30% of all restaurant sales, according to Technomic.

The commissioned study – the first research partnership of its kind for the lab – uses biometric measures such as eye tracking, electroencephalogram (EEG), facial expression software and galvanic skin response to explore how consumers of different ages and genders review a menu. The goal is to learn whether consumers interact with menus differently across different media, including printed, online or mobile formats, and if their gender or age, particularly as it relates to being a digital native, play a role. 

“Data has been the fulcrum of RMS’ 25-year history and is central to our work for the world’s largest and up-and-coming restaurant chains,” said Dr. Christina Norton, who leads the research for Revenue Management Solutions. “The research partnership with CMSI allows us to forge new territory in the area of menu navigation and consumer behavior to help our clients operate effectively in the ever-changing landscape of online ordering and off-premise dining.”

The three-part study began in August 2019 in the biometric lab, one of the largest academic biometric behavior research facilities in the world. Subjects reviewed restaurant menus in four formats – printed, digital, online and mobile – while their eye tracking, facial expression, emotional arousal and galvanic skin response were measured. Results of the first phase will be revealed in late November at an event hosted jointly by RMS and CMSI.

In the second phase, researchers are conducting focus groups with subjects across a wide range of age and gender to understand the motivation for the observations and key findings identified in phase one. The third phase, to finish in early 2020, will be conducted in the field with fast casual restaurant partners who will have their menus redesigned according to research findings to test validity.

To date, the restaurant industry has relied on conventional wisdom, as the research to date has produced conflicting results from small sample studies. A 1987 Gallup Report, “Through the eyes of the customer,” published in the Gallup Monthly Report on Eating Out, has served as a tool guiding the industry’s understanding of how a consumer reads a menu, though concerns were raised as early as the mid-2000s challenging the findings due to the lack of testing.

“Given all the social and demographic developments, this topic deserves a current rigorous review,” said Dr. Rob Hammond, director of the Center for Marketing and Sales Innovation. “It is possible that foundational perspectives that have informed the industry have changed. We intend to investigate the subject to the benefit of the restaurant industry and continue our pursuit of research with practical applications across many industries.” 

About Revenue Management Solutions
RMS provides numerous data-driven solutions and services to the restaurant industry, all designed to help brands drive sales and profitability while maintaining traffic and enhancing brand value long-term. RMS works with more than 50 major brands in more than 40 countries, with its patented processes of revenue management used in more than 100,000 restaurant locations globally. The company holds five U.S. patents on menu pricing and customer segmentation and supports ongoing academic research efforts. For more information on how RMS helps its clients, visit

Media contacts:
Rebecca Wilkins, (214) 437-9096
Tracy Henderson, (720) 989-3530

SOURCE Revenue Management Solutions

Related resources