Fast-Food Customers Reportedly Respond Well to Nagging Receipts

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Trying to tell you something. Photo: Receipt.com

While studies have shown that customers don't pay much attention to calorie counts and other nutritional information on menu boards, a new report suggests that tiny messages printed on restaurant receipts are actually an effective means of influencing future eating habits, according to Bloomberg. So don't be surprised if your fast-food receipt starts commending you for choosing low-fat chocolate milk, along with doling out kudos because "You just had over 35 percent of your daily calcium requirement."

Receipts that offer nutritional facts and healthy-eating suggestions along with the bill have been around for a few years now, but on the eve of the biggest overeating day of the year, we learn that Burgerville's two-year pilot program actually ended up with customers heeding the advice. SmartReceipt Inc.'s Nutricate receipts, which include passive-aggressive comments such as "Holding the mayo on your sandwich will save you 150 calories and 10 grams of fat" led some Burgerville customers to choose apples over fries, and otherwise order their sauces on the side. (Overall calorie counts for meals stayed relatively constant, however, because the diners who skipped the mayo ended up choosing higher calorie entrées, perhaps just out of spite.)

The study's authors say the secret to the Nutricate system's success is that users can personalize the kinds of feeds that will print out on their receipts, which of course sounds like a marketing opportunity waiting to happen, but also, as Bloomberg notes, along the lines of "recommendations from Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., which similarly offer personalized suggestions, based directly on people’s past choices." What is the hamburger-ordering equivalent of our preference for a strong female lead, anyhow, à la Netflix? We may all soon find out.

Would You Hold the Mayo If the Receipt Suggested It? [Bloomberg]