Ambiance and Your Bottom Line

It’s not just your gut feeling anymore – studies have shown ambiance can affect everything from perceptions on responsiveness and reliability, how much and how fast customers eat, how much they spend, how long they stay in the restaurant, and more. And guess what? Decor is one of the main contributing factors.

Before diners smell or taste the food, they judge your establishment based on the d├ęcor and colors surrounding them and how those things make them feel. You might have the best manually brewed coffee in town, or the best buffet spread, but if the atmosphere is not right, your customers won’t be able to enjoy the experience. Good or bad, you can expect their experience to be shared on social media.

Restaurant owners understand this reality, and now studies have shown just how important the ambiance of your eatery really is.

Study and Findings

No one cares about your coffee

Research by Empathic Marketing shows that for cafes, the order of importance for customers is:

  1. Air conditioning
  2. Wi-Fi and electric sockets
  3. Food taste and quality
  4. Taste and quality of the coffee

Coffee placing 4th in order of importance for cafe customers behind air conditioning and wifi. If you’re a frequent cafe visitor, this finding might not surprise you, but a number of cafe owners still find it surprising.

The importance of restaurant ambiance

A study from Rochester Institute of Technology, shows that ambiance play a key role in determining a customer’s eating experience. Researchers looked at lighting, color, music, background noises, layout, aesthetics, and tableware to find out if any of them mattered and by how much. They found that physical environment is the second most important contributor to a restaurant’s image. Furniture was confirmed as an important part of interior design, but design is a less important factor than comfort. Preferred material for hard furniture in restaurants is wood; and for soft furniture cotton and leather.

Although choice of color was not perceived as one of the more important factors in interior design of a restaurant, color was found to be more important by those participants who reported willingness to pay more money for one of the interior design factors. Most people preferred group of warm colours, like red and yellow which could be because those colors stimulate appetite.

Putting it together

If you’re designing an establishment aimed at a more exclusive segment, or if the idea is to get customers to stay longer and spend more, it seems that slower music, warmer colours, and wooden accents for furniture and flooring is the best choice.


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