Think you know good food when you taste it? You may just be fooling yourself into thinking you got your money's worth.
A new study from Cornell University reports that customers who pay more for their food enjoyed their food substantially more than those who paid less.
Researchers offered customers an all-you-can-eat Italian buffet for either $4 or $8. While the food and restaurant remained the same, customers who paid for the $8 buffet enjoyed their food 11 percent more than the customers who ate the $4 buffet.
Additionally, even though both groups ate the same amount of food overall, those who paid the lower price were more likely to report feeling like they had overeaten and more guilt about the meal.
“We were surprised by the striking pattern we saw,” Ozge Sigirci, a researcher at Cornell, said in a statement. “If the food is there, you are going to eat it, but the pricing very much affects how you are going to feel about your meal and how you will evaluate the restaurant.”
What can chain restaurants learn from this? For one thing, increasing prices alone can increase customer satisfaction – even if the quality of the food doesn't rise. As fast-food chains turn to the growth of fast-casuals for profits, remember, just because you're paying more at Taco Bell's fast-casual concept doesn't necessarily mean you're getting a better taco.