The Customer Psychology Behind Attractive Food Images

When customers first walk into a restaurant, what’s the first thing they usually see? 

They likely notice pictures of the food plastered all over the restaurant walls. Large, slowmotion videos of the food being made is enough to make the average customer fall in love. Especially if customers are hungry, there is no doubt that sales will increase with attractive food pictures on display. But what is the psychology behind it? Why are customers more likely to purchase your products if the image is perfectly symmetrical?  

Eating with Our Eyes 

A large portion of our feeling of hunger first stems from our eyes. Many studies have proven that we are scientifically more drawn to something that looks appetizing rather than smells appetizing. Chefs across the country are acknowledging that attractive food photography can increase revenue. They often send their best-looking dishes to the photographers, which is then used to advertise their food and make it seem extremely appetizing.  

The Science at Play 

Seeing a delicious-looking meal, whether from a picture or in person, stimulates the appetite. Many neuroscience studies prove that humans trust our visual system to draw us to appetizing meals. From an evolutionary standpoint, this increased our chances of survival as a species. Our brains are linked closely to our mouths, meaning the brain played a key role in foraging and feeding 

Foraging relies primarily on vision, especially when it involves searching for food that we have already seen before. Our brain relies deeply on our vision to find food that we consider appetizing, nutritious and safe. According to scholar J.M. Allman, the brain may have actually evolved in animals to maintain nutritious intake in the stomach. The brain makes us hungry, and since the brain works together with our visual system to forage for food, our vision is the primary sense that makes us hungry. 

Bringing this Science to Your Restaurant 

With this science in mind, it is essential to create and display attractive images of your food products. Putting images of the food right on the menu is the best way to get your customers to order it. These images could be displayed right next to the description on a self-ordering kiosk so customers will know exactly what they are ordering and what it looks like.  

Another effective way to market these food images is on social media, particularly Instagram. This strategy has become so popular that many chefs are now making food just for social media photography. Now more than ever, customers are constantly on social media, so posting pictures of your dishes is ideal. People eat with all senses, but your restaurant will succeed by taking psychology into account and focusing on sight. 

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