A new study by UK card machine provider, Dojo, has revealed how colour, music, lighting, scent, furniture, layout, and menu design are all used in order to psychologically entice customers.

There is expected to be a £6.6bn year-on-year growth for the restaurant industry, with the top 10 branded restaurants predicted to achieve sales of £3bn in 2022[1]. These figures only emphasise the increased spend of customers within the hospitality sector – highlighting the importance of tapping into your customers’ senses. 

The most common colours used in the UK’s top 20 restaurants

The research found that brown is the most common colour used in the top 20 restaurants in the UK, with the shade being used over 14 times. Brown is a warm and inviting colour, so there’s no surprise why it’s a restaurant favourite. 

Red is the second most popular colour, associated with passion, luxury and richness. Cream ranked as the third most popular colour in restaurants, with cream linked to cleanliness and is often used to brighten rooms. 

Nando’s was the most visited restaurant in the UK in 2020, with over 8 million visitors. Customers are greeted with brown, green, cream, red and yellow tones.

Pizza Express was the second highest visited restaurant in 2020 with over 6,395,000 visitors.  White, black, blue, grey and cream are the colours used in the design of the chain of restaurants.

Pizza Hut saw over 5,801,000 diners in 2020 and ranks as the third most visited restaurant in the UK. Red, black, cream, brown and white are the colour tones most used in the design of the restaurants. 


What music you should play in restaurants to make sure your customers return

Music is important to the success of your restaurant because music can evoke certain emotions and the music played should fit your brand’s identity. A study by HUI & Soundtrack Your Brand revealed that when restaurants played music that fit with their brand aesthetic and feel, sales actually increased.

The results found that dessert restaurants saw the highest increase with 15.6% increase in sales when playing relevant music compared to random music and burger restaurants saw a 8.6% increase in sales. The difference in overall sales when playing music that matched the brand compared with playing randomly selected popular songs is 9.1%.


How lighting can set the tone and impact your customers

There are different types of lighting you can incorporate into your restaurant to set the tone and ambiance, and Dojo have discovered the best 3 to use in your restaurant.  


Ambient lighting

Try to use different coloured lightbulbs to change the tone of the room. Low lighting can create an intimate atmosphere and is the best for settings where diners will be more likely to be closer to one another. 


Accent lighting

Accent lighting is used to draw attention to a specific area, such as paintings, fountains and bars. A great way to incorporate this into your restaurant is by using candles to set the tone, creating a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere. 


Task lighting

If your restaurant is generally low lit, use task lighting at the buffet or for illuminating walkways. This lighting helps employees and customers carry out tasks, from reading the menu to setting the table. 


How to use furniture and layout in your restaurant effectively 

The shape, size and comfort of furniture is super important to think about to create the right atmosphere. Every table in your restaurant should also be considered a ‘good’ table no matter where they are seated, then all your customers will feel valued and equal! 

The layout of your restaurant is also important to make sure customers have a positive experience. For example having clear signage to amenities or making your restaurant feel more romantic with dividers between tables and flowers as decor.


How to bring the psychology of restaurants into your business

It’s best to start simple by making smaller changes first that can positively impact sales without costing a fortune to complete!

  • Start out by changing the layout of your restaurant. Move furniture around to see what works best for your venue.
  • Incorporate new colours into the design. Whether that be a new lick of paint or bringing in new features, such as flowers, artwork or statement pieces of furniture.
  • Look at the design of your menu. Is it easy for diners to read? Is the pricing displayed correctly? You can easily use free tools like Canva which provide templates to help create a new menu design.
  • Allow the fresh cooking smells from your kitchen to flow through the venue. Diners like to smell the fresh aromas of the food they are about to eat!
  • Now more than ever, customers’ first instinct is to photograph restaurants (and their food) to post on their social media. Whether it’s making sure your restaurant is aesthetically pleasing or having the right lighting so customers can get snaps of their dishes to post online, it will prove beneficial to overall business goals.