How to Utilise Restaurant Interior Design to Influence the Customer Behaviour

How to Utilise Restaurant Interior Design to Influence the Customer Behaviour

While restaurants, ice-cream parlours, cafes and literally every establishment in the F&B industry compete with each other employing using location, prices and promotions, very little take the win from the margin of their interior design. Most people do not know this but the way in which a restaurant interior design impacts customer psychology, prompts them to order more or less, and even impacts how long they stay or leave. Seating options, light, music architecture all constitute a restaurant’s interior design and here is a guide on how you can influence your customer’s psychology using them.

Elements of Restaurant Interior Design and How to Use them to Your Advantage

The primary elements of restaurant interior design include the following

  • Architecture & Design
  • Lighting
  • Seating
  • Colours
  • Smell
  • Acoustics

In this article, we will discuss all of this in detail.

1. Architecture and Design

The architecture and design are the most important aspects of restaurant interior design. The way you design the inside and how you place all your elements plays an integral role in the look and feel of your restaurant and hence impacts your customer experience.  It makes no sense for your joint to be beautiful if your servers cannot serve well and customers cannot feel comfortable in their own space.

The floor plan of your restaurant must be such that there is individual space for every person seated. If you are a fine dining restaurant 20 sq feet area per seat is ideal however for a QSR 10 sq feet area is considered perfect.

Service stations though not in vogue these days are best located where the customer footfall will be minimum like the exact centre of the restaurant. If you have a huge entrance only then put a service station or a reservation desk there or else it will crowd the door. If your entrance is not that big put the stand outside.

Make sure that your servers can see the customers and your customers can see the servers at all times. The floor plan of the dining area must include space for operations. Leave enough isle gaps between your seats for proper service.

role of decor in restaurant interior design

Restrooms must be located away from the kitchen but be visible still in your restaurant interior design. If it behind a wall or somewhere towards the outside make sure you put a direction board as not everyone is comfortable asking for directions. Play around with padded interiors, quirky wall hangings or any other ideas you may have around this basic skeleton.

restaurant interior design allocation of space

2. Lighting

Lighting is literally the most important part of your restaurant interior design. It does not make any sense for you to have everything perfect if the lighting is so off that it kills the effect. Technically there are three types of lighting- Ambient, Task and Accent lighting.

Ambient lighting defines the overall look and feel of your restaurant. Is your restaurant dimly lit or is it bright and heavy on the lights, this is the light that defines it. Fine dining restaurants usually use dim ambient lighting to create a relaxing mood and aura. As they serve customers in a way that promotes them to linger and so order more this is perfect. QSRs, on the other hand, must be well lit. the idea for them is for customers to come, eat fast and go. Bright lights induce that behaviour so the customers don’t keep lingering around.

Task lighting is the light used for performing tasks. These are the lights that enable servers to work and customers to read the menu and order. This lighting is to be used strategically so that it does not kill the objective of ambient lighting but at the same time performs its own function well, especially in fine dining restaurants. You can use it to highlight pathways or incorporate it by putting it on some special features like sushi bars or minibars to highlight them.

Accent lights are lights used for that extra touch but mostly decorative purpose. These you can experiment with but mostly wall lighting in this area is received better than overhead lighting. You can use these lights to reinforce the colours of your brand as well but don’t overdo it or else it will kill the purpose.

3. Seating

Seating is another unnoticed part of restaurant interior design. The type of seats you use impact your customer’s psychology and the experience as well. Ever noticed how QSRs like McDonald’s and Subway have seats that are comfortable but not exactly the type you would want to keep sitting in. At the same time, they give a very light feeling. All this impacts the customers to be fast eaters and not stay. On the other hand, Starbucks has comfortable seats, recliners and sofas that are heavy and cushioned. This prompts the customers to stay longer and keep ordering more coffee. The same can be said for fine dining restaurants. Mixing alternate seating methods like swings or hammocks also have the same effect and prompt the customer to relax and stay. Swings, on the other hand, remind one of childhood and speed. This makes the customer sitting on it to order impulsively and eat fast.

4. Colours

Colours believe it or not play a huge role in your restaurant interior design. The main thing that impacts what colours you must use in your restaurant is your target clientele. Different colours trigger different emotions and set different moods. Some colours stimulate diet while others repress it. Warm colours like red and orange are considered strong stimulants and so a lot of restaurants try to use red in their interior. At the same time, it is a strong colour so it is best not to go overboard with it. Yellow is a happy colour and can bring out people’s appetite by giving a lively feeling to the place. Blue, on the other hand, is a suppressant but do not fear just yet if you own a fine dining restaurant. The reason why blue is considered a suppressant is that it relaxes the diners and calms them hence they order less. Fine dining restaurants aim for a mood where customers would want to linger as opposed to QSRs and so it makes colours like blue or turquoise ideal for them. QSRs, on the other hand, need customers to order more and eat fast thus making warm shades good for them.

role of colours in restaurant interior design

Then there are shades which are big no-nos. Gray, brown and purple come in this category. While grey is dreary and tired, brown reminds one of burnt food and purple is associated with less popular foods like eggplants or brinjals.

5. Scent

Believe it or not, scent marketing is a thing. Think about what happens when you pass by Wengers, Cinnabon or Starbucks. The smell of their products overpowers you and stimulates you to walk into the store. This may sound far-fetched but according to a study, the right scents can actually increase your food sales by 300% so make sure you include it in your restaurant interior design. In fact, according to the University of Paderborn, scents increased impulse buying by 6%, buying intention by 14.8%, and the length of a customer’s stay by 15.9%.

Letting some smells float in from the kitchen can induce appetite. You can either go for an open kitchen for this or even manage ventilation in this manner. Another thing that you can do is go for artificial scents. Just like colours, different scents create different emotions in people.

Chamomile, Lavender and Vanilla reduces stress and relaxes the mind making them perfect for a fine dining restaurant. Baked bread reminds one of home and gives a comforting feeling thus works well for dessert section of a restaurant or a bakery. Peppermint, cucumber and citrus flavours make a person feel fresh making them ideal for restaurants catering to after-work corporate employees. Allowing scents to build up in a cloche and then removing it hits the customers with the scent of good food in their face and suddenly increase their appetite. It also makes other diners to want to order more. The smell of cucumber can actually make the customers feel that an area is larger than it seems which make it perfect for small spaced establishments.

Depending on the type of vibe and customer experience you want to create in your restaurant you can choose from a variety of smells just remember never to use barbecue as your scent, even if you run a barbeque joint. It makes the place feel small and more stuffy while killing the appetite.

role of smell in restaurant interior design

6. Acoustics

Lastly, we come to acoustics. You may think that music or choice of it is not necessarily important but that is the most incorrect conception you could have. Music does more than simply fill the gaps in a restaurant. First, we come to the volume of it. Controlling the volume at which you will play the music is the trickiest thing to do. While too loud can create noise, too soft can make people think that other diners can hear them and so make them awkward. If you can use acoustic control techniques like false ceilings, carpets or curtains.

Now coming to the type of music, that also depends on your clientele. For a high-end restaurant instrumental works best. Having a live piano is the best thing you can do if you run a fine dining restaurant. For restaurants that are not exactly fine dining but not QSR’s as well popular trending music is a good choice. Use faster beats for rush hour and relaxed slow tempo beats for off hours.

role of sound and acoustic in restaurant interior design

More than half of marketing is understanding your customer’s psychology and taking advantage of it to get what you want. Employ these tips in your restaurant interior design to make sure that you leave a desirable impact on your customers and make them come again and again.   

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