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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Ever observed that Posh restaurant menu cards do not have pictures ??

Developer activates the light sensitive crystals that make up the emulsion on your paper. When the crystals come into contact with developer, any parts of the paper exposed to light will become some shade of black.  Then there is Stop Bath,  an acid that deactivates the developer.  Fixer removes the unexposed crystals on the emulsion, making the paper light safe. Paper that has been through fixer can then be taken into open light without worries of turning black. Insufficient fixing will turn a picture yellow over time.

Wonder what this is all about ?  - the complex process that the film roll underwent as it turned the negative to a print that you liked !  ~ and we have been fed so much with this idiom - "A picture is worth a thousand words"  - referring  to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image or that an image of a subject conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a description does.

This phrase emerged in the USA in the early part of the 20th century. Its introduction is widely attributed to Frederick R. Barnard, who published a piece commending the effectiveness of graphics in advertising with the title "One look is worth a thousand words", in Printer's Ink, December 1921. Barnard claimed the phrase's source to be oriental by adding "so said a famous Japanese philosopher.  

The history of the camera can be traced much further back than the introduction of photography. Cameras evolved from the camera obscura, and continued to change through many generations of photographic technology, including daguerreotypes, calotypes, dry plates, film, and to the modern day with digital cameras. Life has changed much as we moved away from Eastman, Kodak, Sekura, Konica and more of film rolls – the birth of digital camera changed the life, the skillset required in photography. Digital cameras differ from their analog predecessors primarily in that they do not use film, but capture and save photographs on digital memory cards or internal storage instead. Their low operating costs have relegated chemical cameras to niche markets.

This is no post on photography or cameras but on pictures, more so on the research of Durham University on studied the impact of photos on menus !!  often in high end restaurants we are stumped to relate what the dish could be by reading its name on the menu ?

The findings of the research in this interesting article on Daily Mail states that pictures will put off diners if accompanying a complicate dish name; and if menu item is simple then images will make a diner more likely to order it !!!

There are many distinctions to be made between high end restaurant and cheaper eateries but one of the easiest ways to tell the difference is to see if there are pictures on the menu or not. Posh establishments tend not to embellish their menus with images of the fancy food on offer, while high street chains and cheap cafes will tend to advertise their wares visually.

It turns out there's a very good reason for this, researchers from Durham University have discovered - and it's because images will put us off unless promoting a very simple dish. The study by Durham University Business School found that if the name of a menu item is straightforward, such as 'burger and chips,' a picture next to it will make a diner more likely to buy the dish.

Most high end restaurant menus don't include pictures, and that's because the complicated and often obscure descriptions would put off diners if accompanied by photos, the study has found. But if a meal has an ambiguous or complicated name, such as 'Midnight Madness Cake' to describe a simple chocolate cake, pictures can have the opposite effect and put diners off the meal, the study found. Having a picture next to a menu item that doesn't reveal much about the dish could make the diner feel disappointed if the description doesn't live up to what the meal actually looks like, the findings revealed.

It goes some way to explain why top restaurants, which often feature dishes with vague descriptions or obscure ingredients, hardly ever have pictures on the menu. The findings also confirm why many high street chains, diners and cafes have pictures on the menu as their dishes tend to be simpler and more familiar to a larger audience.

It's not very common to find images on restaurant menus anymore - and marketing professor Dr Yusani Hou explained that it's because it can be a risk as it can put off diners. The study of 671 people, conducted by assistant professor in marketing at Durham University Business School, Dr Yuansi Hou, explored how restaurant menus can provoke very different reactions from customers. She also found that the use of descriptive words, such as a 'tender' chicken salad, is a growing trend restaurants use to boost sales. But as Dr Hou's research uncovered, accompanying such a dish with an image is a risk as the customer will judge if the dish is really 'tender' based on that picture. 

Dr Hou explained how restaurants can use images on menus effectively. She said: 'Our research revealed that if a restaurant wants to make use of imagery and visual prompts on their menu, this needs to be combined with commonly used and "accurate" food names to increase marketing power.  'While it may seem a basic approach, photos can act as a positive reinforcement for customers who have made a visual connection that reflects the name of that dish. 'However, pairing extravagant food names with pictures that are too far from reality have the opposite effect and will be a turn off for customers.

'So, while you may think you know what you want to choose, the next time you ponder over a restaurant menu, there is likely to be a very calculated internal response before you give your order to the waiter.' ~ and the next time you go to a hotel after reading this post, you are more likely to check whether the menu card has photos of the dishes !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
17th June 2017

Pic of real foodie in a famous restaurant – not on the menu card.

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