How Ambiance Affects Your Restaurant Marketing

Group of friends sharing chips and salsa at Tex-Mex restaurant

Why so many chains are renovating and why you should consider it too.

Let’s start with some facts. Millennials are the largest living generation in America right now. They also eat out the most, at 3.4 times per week compared to just 2.8 times per week for non-millennials.

Research has found that when it comes to dining out, they’re looking for late-night hours, convenience, healthy menu options, and décor. Today, we’ll examine that last piece: décor. If it matters to millennials, who eat out more than any other consumer group, it should matter to you.

Millennials want to spend time in places that are comfortable, clean, and aesthetically pleasing. They like to feel like they’re getting a premium experience, even at a fast-food restaurant.

Sure, they enjoy the occasional hole-in-the-wall Italian place with an amazing house wine and hand-rolled pasta, but more often than not, that ‘dive’ look isn’t going to help you win any new customers.

Having a more fashionable ambiance gives off a general air of quality, something that diners are always looking for. A cohesive, modern design will help you position your restaurant as a place worth visiting, even for people who haven’t considered dining with you in the past.

Take Arby’s as an example. Picture, if you can, Arby’s in the 2000s. Nothing special, right? Tile floor, plastic tabletops, tan and red walls.

After taking a hard look at their customer satisfaction scores, Arby’s noticed that guests were perfectly happy with the food and service at their restaurants. The complaints centered mostly around the physical appearance of the stores.

Over the past two years, Arby’s has renovated 300+ stores, adding wood floors, wood paneling, and subway tile, while keeping its signature red chairs. The results? Restaurants that look much fancier than your average fast food joint, and a 15% sales lift.

Arby’s isn’t alone. KFC, Taco Bell, Denny’s, Huddle House, and IHOP are just a few examples of restaurants who have decided not to let their outdated décor hold them back any longer.

The revenue potential from the key millennial segment is too high to ignore, and brands are realizing that if they want to capture millennial dining expenditure, they need to make key changes. Often, in order to maintain a cohesive brand experience, the redesign of the physical locations is accompanied by some level of rebranding and a menu update to reflect the more modern and curious tastes of today’s diners. When done right, all of these aspects work together to tell your restaurant’s unique story and lure in prospective diners.

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 17+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s