All-you-can-eat in reality: You eat what you choose


  • Sabrina Chan University of Toronto


All-you-can-eat buffet is a long-standing favourite for gourmets and restauranters. In behavioral economics, literature show mixed findings in how the price interacts with customers’ perceived food quality and their consumption. Some research found that lower payment led to higher food consumption and worse ratings, while others found that this phenomenon to be associated with higher payment. This consistency may be due to the difference of experimental design; namely, whether participants were aware that different prices are available to choose from. If individuals can choose between two sets of two different prices, individuals who choose the cheaper set may consider their meal more cost-effective and will not push themselves to consume more, only to make up for the price. This study proposal aims to use Korean BBQ buffet to understand how the presence of choice impacts consumers’ behaviour. We hypothesize that when a choice is given, individuals in both the standard and the premium set condition will show similar results in all three variables. Conversely, when individuals do not have a choice, those who are assigned with the standard set will consume more food and give more negative ratings than those with the premium set. If this hypothesis is confirmed, results will have strong implications for both food industries and government policy-makers. For business, this implies that choice architecture can nudge consumers to make decisions that both lower operation costs and maintain customer satisfaction. For public welfare, the presence of choice can encourage an autonomous attitude in consuming healthy food.