Three in four diners find something they would consider ordering within two minutes, with 65% arriving at a final decision 60 seconds later, according to by Elliotts, which commissioned the research.
The survey of 270 consumers looked at the decision-making process diners undergo when ordering.
For some consumers, the decision-making process starts before setting foot in a restaurant or pub, with 63% of consumers saying they judge a venue by reading its menu ahead of their visit.
The survey also reveals UK consumers to be creatures of habit, with three in five diners (60%) more likely to order a dish they have had during a previous visit to a restaurant or pub.
Two in three respondents said they only read the full descriptions of up to five menu items, with the same percentage (67%) preferring short, concise menu descriptions.
The results emphasise the important role of menu science in driving greater profitability for hospitality operators, says Elliotts. “Competition among hospitality operators remains fierce and if that wasn’t bad enough, operators now have to contend with increases in the Living Wage, food prices, business rates and rents,” says Ann Elliott, chief executive at Elliotts.
“In addition, average spend per head is on the decrease and operator costs are rising. As a result, restaurant and pub operators need to consider innovative methods of increasing profitability without passing these costs onto their customers.
“The role of the menu within the wider customer journey is the key to getting this balance right, however, not enough operators are developing their menus with profitability in mind and therefore missing an extremely lucrative trick.”