Introducing novel concepts and enhancing customer experience are two of the many strategies restaurants use to stay relevant among the competition and attract more customers. In the process of trying to discover customers’ interests, motivations, and comfort needs, restaurant owners can employ the concept of consumer psychology when reimagining their brands and renovating their establishments.

Gone are the days when the term “restaurant remodel” was only about newly painted interiors, fresh store layout, more eye-catching exteriors, or neon lighting. Here are other elements of consumer psychology around which you can inspire a fresh restaurant remodelling idea.


While taste is at the forefront of people’s minds when recalling a particular restaurant, the sense of sight is what creates that important first impression. What we see is the most essential element in restaurant design because the brain picks up signals faster through the eyes.

Choosing a colour palette that matches the look and feel of a brand is important, as colours play a vital role in emotion, perception, and human behaviour. Colour psychology helps us understand how certain shades correspond to our feelings and attitudes. Consider the following when setting the overall mood of your restaurant:

  • Pastels like light green, pink, cream, and ivory can enlarge a small space while dark colours do the opposite.
  • Gold and black create a sophisticated image.
  • White neutralizes the colour of food, making it appear less appetizing.
  • Warm colours like red and orange stimulate the appetite, while gray suppresses it.

Colours make up only half of the entire influence on a consumer’s perception of a brand. Good lighting can also improve the efficiency of service and increase customer turnover rate. Bright lighting is especially helpful for quick-service brands. Restaurants with a fast-casual dining concept might do well with dimmer lighting if they want to create a luxurious atmosphere that invites diners to stay longer.

To incorporate better flow and more visual appeal into your design, add sight lines. Clear sight lines help customers determine how to move around a space and navigate the entire restaurant. Decide on how you want to utilize sight lines to improve your restaurant’s new layout.

The right sound can attract the right customers.


In addition to sight, sound also has a powerful effect in directing consumer perception and behaviour. Scientists have discovered that playing the right sound can influence what and how much customers consume. In one particular experiment, researchers found that customers are likely to select items from a menu that correspond to the type of music they heard prior to ordering. (For example, those who listened to the Beach Boys were more likely to get common American fare like hamburgers and hotdogs.)

Music not only affects behaviour, but it also helps to attract the clientele that you aim to serve. Upbeat music will likely draw in a younger demographic. Soft or ambient music encourages customers to spend more time in the restaurant and consume more food. On the other hand, loud music that makes it hard to hold a conversation might discourage people from dining in your establishment.

Instead of choosing songs to play at random, select music that complements the atmosphere and image that you’re trying to create. Here are a few factors to consider when choosing the right sound for your restaurant:

  • Volume, tempo, and key of the music.
  • Type of cuisine and services your restaurant offers.
  • Musical genre. (For example, classical music is best played in wine stores; modern folk music is ideal in coffee shops.)

Background tunes may not necessarily convince buyers to change their preferences, but paying extra attention when choosing the right music will help set the appropriate mood and improve customer experience.

Scents help stir cravings.


The sense of smell can be a factor in encouraging customers to consume more when they’re at a restaurant. More specifically, scents are useful in tapping into a person’s food craving—a powerful motivator for a purchase decision. Smell is a chemical sense that is closely associated with the emotional center of the brain. It has the power to increase saliva production and alter the heart rate, which are both factors that can sway someone into making a purchase.

Some brands even leverage smell in marketing their products. The concept of “scent brand” allows businesses to use a particular scent to which customers can associate their product for better brand recall.

Incorporating aromas in your restaurant can likely increase food sales up to 300 percent. Based on a study conducted by the University of Paderborn in Germany, scents can boost impulse buying by 6 percent, purchase intention by 14.8 percent, and the duration of a customer’s stay by 15.9 percent. Restaurants can use this to their advantage by having an open kitchen design to allow the smell from cooking food to drift over to diners. In addition to whetting customers’ appetites, this strategy also creates a sense of transparency and makes your restaurant appear more spacious.

Furniture can affect your customers’ mood.


Many businesses use the sense of touch to make guests more comfortable and affect their consuming habits. This may not be obvious to customers, but restaurant owners often use furniture (like plush sofas and high-quality wooden tables) to create a warm, luxurious vibe to make people want to stay longer; spending more time in a restaurant can translate to spending more money.

The strategy is different for fast food establishments. Since they earn more sales from quicker customer turnover rates, they use hard seating to encourage diners to leave as soon as they finish their meals. The secret is to find a common ground between the level of comfort you want to provide to customers and your business’s need for turnover.

The material and quality of furniture pieces you use requires careful planning. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the right seats, tables, and dining surfaces:

  • Pick furniture pieces according to your brand’s aesthetic – Make sure that your furniture complements your brand. Choose colours, patterns, and materials that blend well with the overall theme. When in doubt, go for neutral tones and minimalist design.
  • Establish the right mood – The height, length, and shape of a table can be a determining factor in how guests feel in a restaurant. Large, round tables elicit an intimate mood; long tables add more elegance to your dining setup. The same holds true for chairs. Wooden chairs are ideal if you want your restaurant to have a formal setting. For a more comfortable and relaxed atmosphere, use wider and upholstered chairs.
  • Use variations – If you have the luxury of space, create areas in your restaurant that incorporate different types of furniture to suit customers’ needs. For example, a lounge area or bar can serve a functional purpose in accommodating customers waiting to be seated. Varying table sizes can also prove useful in seating large parties.

Keep these psychology-backed techniques in mind when redesigning your restaurant to help boost customer satisfaction and increase turnover rate.

If you need an expert in restaurant or building renovation in Toronto or the GTA, contact PT General Contractor. Call us at (416) 757-9100 to learn how our team of licensed experts can turn your renovation ideas into reality.