Manipulation? McDonald’s Is Using This One Thing To Keep Customers Coming Back

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Interesting concept… Does this make you look at the popular food chain any differently?

Blogged by: @allmoniquedee | |


Can certain interior design features make you hungry for a hamburger? Some would say yes, and McDonald’s offers a master class in how to do it. Your craving for a quick Big Mac may send you to the door of a McDonald’s MCD, -0.44% but once you’re inside the restaurant, a carefully orchestrated set of sensory cues work together to maximize your spending and minimize your discomfort.

It may sound creepy or manipulative to people who aren’t familiar with how businesses use behavioral psychology, but one U.K.-based product consultant says McDonald’s is a stellar model for people like him, who make their living helping businesses use psychology to build better products and services.

Consultant Luke Battye studied the fast food chain’s new “experience of the future”restaurants and explained how their design sways customers in recent advice published on

The new design seems to be working for McDonald’s. Stock market analysts named the burger giant a top pick in early 2018, and despite recent price drops, it’s still considered a good buy. The chain recently made other changes to meet customers’ changing attitudes toward food: it’s using more fresh meat and putting less sugar in kids’ meals.

Here are some of Battye’s key insights on how the restaurant’s design affects customer behavior:

They ‘anchor’ our decisions

The first thing customers see when they walk in the door is delicious-looking photos of the chain’s newer menu offerings — called “Signature Collection” in the U.K. and “Signature Crafted Recipes” in the U.S. — the pricier, and by some accounts fattier, gourmet burgers. In positioning the photos near the entrance, McDonald’s is following research that shows that consumers tend to go with the first options presented to them when they’re making a decision.

They reduce psychological pain

But those attractive pictures and other promotional photos throughout the restaurant are missing some key information: The prices. This is a way of reducing the inherent psychological pain that comes from spending money.

They exploit humans’ ability to spot potential danger

Our eyes naturally track motion — the better to spot predators with. On digital menu displays in the restaurants, McDonald’s uses subtle animation to direct customers’ attention away from the lower-priced value meal options and point them toward the pricier ones.



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