Quick question: Would you pay $6 for two choices (plus rice) at the Chinese take-out, or $5 for one choice (plus rice)? What if you got the same amount of food for each option?
Let me explain. At the Reagan Building here in D.C., there is an eatery “City Lights of China Express”. I eat there probably once per week (I love the tofu). Now, on their big banner menu hanging right in your face, you have 2 options:
1 entree = $4.99
2 entrees = $5.99
When they serve up the 1 entree, the fill up one half of the to-go container with rice, and the other half with the entree (e.g. tofu or General Tso’s chicken). But for the 2 entree option, do they give you a full portion of each entree?
You get 1 entree in one-fourth of the container, the other entree in another fourth, and rice in the other half. Basically, you’re paying an extra dollar to have a variety in your meal, not for more, or better, food! Honestly, 1 entree is more than enough food to fill your belly, so I don’t need 2 full entrees. But they have very clever pricing to make you think you’re going to get more for your money. They could easily drop the 1 entree option, lower the price on the 2 entree option, and then if you want all of one dish, just ask for 2 servings of it instead of splitting between two choices.
I don’t blame them for their pricing. But the extra cost for them to put down one spoon and pick up another to dish out the second entree is not worth $1 more. It’s all consumer psychology at play.