Restaurant tableware provider, Tork, and its parent company, SCA, wanted scientifically proven answers on how restaurants' colors affect customers' perception of their restaurant experiences. That's why the companies recently conducted an experiment on the subject, using brainwave technology to measure guests' reactions to various hues. The bottom line of the study? Color is critical to customer experience since it has a notable and predictable impact on their moods and emotions, according to a news release about the experiment.
The color lab
The experiment tracked 16 people wearing brainwave headsets while they sat in eight separate color-saturated restaurant environments. During each episode, they taste-tested drinks and cookies that matched the color of the room in which they sat. Experimenters recorded their brainwave and heart rate information, while participants completed a questionnaire about their reactions to their environments. It is, according to SCA Tork Senior Product Manager for Table Top Julia Wood, an old idea with a new business-focused interpretation.
"Goethe created the first color theory in 1810," Wood said, in a news release about the study. "This isn't an ambition to challenge existing theory but rather contribute with additional color insights, specifically related to a restaurant environment."
Specifically, the company learned the following:
Green: The pick-me-upper
In green-saturated restaurant environments, people feel revitalized, freshened and renewed, so it may not only be a great midday (aka lunch) environment hue, but also a refreshing consideration for coffee houses and healthy-based restaurants.
Orange: Happy meals
For brands with a happiness mission, orange is a sure bet, promising fun and good vibes, but little in the way of luxury or romance. Brainwave and heart rate results put orange solidly in the neutral zone when it came to overall strength of emotional impact. Since orange also elicited mid-range indications of gamma waves it's a good choice for restaurants that see a lot of business gatherings.
Red: That's 'hot'
Red evoked little in the way of halfway emotional responses, since it tends to elicit high heart rates and indications of delta and theta brain waves that typically accompany strong emotional connections and even feelings of romance, as well as creativity. It is then, perfect for bars, romantic meet-up environments or even concepts that push creative fun, like restaurants that have art nights or family lunch spots that feature kids games and movies.
Blue: The soother
Deep delta waves elicited in blue environments suggested the hue is great for quiet dinner or lunch meeting spots, while high theta waves evoked by blue are also conducive to concepts that seek to welcome, calm or even relax diners, including family lunch and dinner spots or coffee or tea houses, but not necessarily those associated with luxury or business.
Yellow: Excitement in the air
Yellow is the color for places that promote energy and conviviality with little interest in promoting a luxurious restaurant experience or business meeting venue. The color would be a good breakfast spot hue, thanks to its mood and energy-lifting qualities, as well as serving nicely for more relaxed kids venues.
Brown: Relaxing, but maybe too much
Brown did little for brainwaves, which study sponsors say indicates it’s a neutral zone color that might relax, but doesn't pack a punch with diners. Restaurants seeking to promote tradition, however, might find the color useful, particularly when mixed with other more evocative tints.
Black: Dark in a classy way
The experiment dubbed black "a color of complexity" that equates to feelings of luxury and sophistication, according to study sponsors, but possibly also makes this hue a little distancing for diners. Black does evoke brainwaves that indicate high levels of creativity and arousal in participants, although little in the way of overall focus, making it a no-go for most business settings.
White: It is what it is
You could say that white is the golden retriever of the color wheel: It will be essentially whatever you want it to be because researchers said it registered low for all brain waves. It doesn't arouse much, but it doesn't stress much either, making it unobtrusive for focused business settings. It offers little help in environments where any emotional connection is desired, other than an association with modernity, however.
Photo source: Tork SCA