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Restaurant Ambiance Drives Restaurant Traffic

Data from Technomic shows that while intangible a restaurant’s ambiance goes a long way toward shaping consumers’ experiences and perceptions of a particular location.

While quality, service, convenience and value remain the cornerstones of a positive restaurant dining experience, ambiance plays a critical role as well, according to data from Technomic's Consumer Brand Metrics.

Although easily overlooked because of its intangible nature, ambiance is associated with higher consumer experience ratings and overall satisfaction, Technomic reports. “It's essential for operators, particularly in the full-service segment, to consider how atmosphere can play a role in the way consumers rate their overall dining experience,” says Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic.

In addition, Technomic made this information in a white paper “Setting the Stage: Consumer Assessments of Décor, Music and Atmosphere at Leading Restaurant Chains”. Other findings from the white paper include:

  • Restaurant ambiance drives traffic: Ninety-one percent of casual-dining restaurant patrons say that an appealing ambiance influences their decision to visit a particular concept. For quick-service restaurants, 84 percent of customers say it is important that the units they visit have a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere.
  • Younger consumers put a greater emphasis on music and décor: Across all restaurant segments measured, Gen Z and Millennial consumers most strongly prioritize music and décor. Fifty-two percent of these younger generations say that a concept's music selection is an important factor in their decision to visit a casual-dining restaurant, compared to just 43 percent of older consumers.
  • Ambiance ratings correlate to overall satisfaction: Ninety-eight percent of consumers who rated a restaurant's atmosphere and ambiance as very good also rated their overall visit favorably (excellent or good). In comparison, less than half of those who rated the ambiance as bad (43 percent) or very bad (31 percent) gave their overall visit a favorable rating.

In 2013, the following chains represent the top five brands in each segment based on a rollup of four ambiance attributes: overall atmosphere and ambiance; a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere; music selection; and décor):

  • Limited Service: Caribou Coffee, McAlister's Deli, Firehouse Subs, Pinkberry, Potbelly Sandwich Shop
  • Full Service: Bahama Breeze Island Grille, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Maggiano's Little Italy, Romano's Macaroni Grill