What colour is your coffee shop?

A new study of coffee shops in Tehran suggests that customers do not care what music is being played while they partake of their favourite beverage provided the decor of the establishment is the right colour. Details are published in the International Journal of Business Excellence.

Ana Saffar of the Department of Business Management, Science and Research Branch, at the Islamic Azad University, in Khouzestan, Iran, surveyed customers of some 400 restaurants and coffee shops to investigate whether or not decor and music had an effect on their experience and led to loyal customers. Her insights could help inform marketing of food and drink outlets in Tehran and elsewhere.

In the global marketplace of international business travel and beyond, new approaches are needed to gain and maintain a customer base. We live in the loyalty era, Saffar suggests, where customers underpin the survival of companies and only satisfied and happy customers that become loyal to a brand or outlet are considered a success. Customer satisfaction therefore has to be the aim of any business hoping to become and remain profitable. In public-facing businesses such as restaurants and coffee shops the environment wherein the sale takes place could be of paramount importance. Of course a high-quality product or service is critical to customer retention, but Saffar’s research suggests that more subtle aspects of the overall customer experience also play a major role and businesses would do well, if not better, to take such issues into account when updating their business plan. Many observers have suggested that music choice has played a role, but Saffar’s study suggests this is not as important as environment and the colour of the decor in particular.

She suggests that businesses should “consider environmental factors such as interior decoration and open spaces in service environments…to provide a relaxing environment to attract customers…and to offset the marginal costs of creating a more pleasing internal and external environment given the potential for competitive advantage particularly in restaurants and coffee shops.”

Saffar, A. (2016) ‘Effect of environment, colour and music on customer loyalty in restaurants and coffee shops‘, Int. J. Business Excellence, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp.162-176.

Author: David Bradley

Award-winning, freelance science writer based in Cambridge, England.