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We report results from a randomized field experiment conducted at two food festivals. Our primary aim is to assess the impact of two types of recommendations commonly observed in food settings: most popular and chef’s choice. Subjects select a cupcake from a binary menu. The two options, offered by the same bakery, are the best seller in the bakery and the baker’s recommended cupcake. Our treatments manipulate whether the recommendation is disclosed in tandem with the cupcakes in the menu. We find that the most popular is the only recommendation that statistically significantly increased consumers’ demand relative to a baseline without recommendations. Furthermore, we find that this effect only holds for subjects from outside the local region. Our results are consistent with laboratory studies indicating information on peers’ choices is a powerful influence on consumers’ decisions, especially in the absence of prior knowledge.


ESI Working Paper 21-06

This paper later underwent peer review and was published as:

Bookwala, K., Gallemore, C., & Gómez-Miñambres, J. (2022). The influence of food recommendations: Evidence from a randomized field experiment. Economic Inquiry.



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