The use of psychological pricing is expected to increase, as market conditions remain tough and operators try to tempt customers through their doors, according to new MCA research.

With continued pressure on disposable incomes and weakened consumer confidence, operators are using pricing tactics to gauge consumer responses to certain price points in order to enhance sale prospects.

New analysis, which forms part of MCA’s Menu Tracker data, found that menu items with £#.#9 price points were strongly associated with value-led brands and low ticket operators, including the likes of Flaming Grill and Hungry Horse, and Burger King and McDonald’s within fast food.

While £#.#5 prices were used by mainstream brands, such as Chiquito and Strada, and premium-led operators used £#.#0 rounding, including Aubaine and Black & Blue, and independent brands, Café Murano and Skylon.

Among the key findings of the research was that there was a movement away from £#.#9 price points across all four regions of the UK, on autumn/winter 2017 menus. This has been driven by a number of operators, including Prezzo – who removed 121 dishes ending with £#.#9 and switched to £#.#5 in 2017, while several Mexican restaurant operators, including Chimichanga, Chiquito and Chilango, changed their £#.#9 price points to a mix of £#.#5 and £#.#0.

There has also been an increase in use of £#.99 price points. Bella Italia, for example, changed 65 dishes to £#.99 price points in autumn/winter 2017, while Ed’s Easy Diner changed 46 and TGI Fridays 36.

But with cost pressures seeing no sign of abating, MCA expects greater use of £#.#5 and £#.#9 price points going forward.

To find out more about MCA Menu Tracker, please contact MCA on 02076 110404 or email enquiries@mca-insight.com .