Why do people choose beers on the left side of the menu?

One of the most famous pubs in Prague, Czech Republic, is Strahov Monastery Brewery.

Perched atop the city part of the Strahov Monastery compound and the lush surrounding Petrin Hill, the Strahov Brewery is a delightful find in the bustling city of Prague. Just steps from the massive Prague Castle complex, the microbrewery serves about ten variations of St. Norbert beer (3 all year round and 7 seasonally) and the brews are all delicious and fresh with crisp hints of unique flavors.

This brewery has an eye -pleasing beer menu. It introduced five different beers with color, ABV (Alcohol By Volume), IBU (International Bittering Units) scale, description, hops, availability, price, and food pairing. Much like the positioning map beer menu at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, the Strahov Brewery menu eased the burden of my decision-making.

Interestingly, I found that everyone ordered Amber Larger, Dark Larger, or IPA. These three beers were placed on the left side of the menu and each one was supported by its own comment: representing 70% of the production, award winning, or brew master recommended. I noticed that a vertical line in the middle of the menu plays a role of the “visual barrier” and therefore the two beers on the right side did not attract attention. The menu designer used mere categorization effect smartly.

Mogilner, C., Rudnick, T., & Iyengar, S. S. (2008). The Mere Categorization Effect: How the Presence of Categories Increases Choosers’ Perceptions of Assortment Variety and Outcome Satisfaction. Journal of Consumer Research, 35(2), 202–215.

What is the effect of option categorization on choosers’ satisfaction? A combination of field and laboratory experiments reveals that the mere presence of categories, irrespective of their content, positively influences the satisfaction of choosers who are unfamiliar with the choice domain. This “mere categorization effect” is driven by a greater number of categories signaling greater variety among the available options, which allows for a sense of self‐determination from choosing. This effect, however, is attenuated for choosers who are familiar with the choice domain, who do not rely on the presence of categories to perceive the variety available.