A new study published by Cornell University's Brian Wansink and Dr. Koert Van Ittersum examines the effects QSR atmospheres – particularly lighting and background music – have on diners' food consumption and satisfaction.
According to the report consumers tend to eat faster if there are bright lights and loud noises. Additionally, bold colors such as red and yellow, create a "hectic" ambiance that cause consumers to eat faster.
The researchers studied a Hardee's restaurant in Illinois that recently underwent a partial design makeover to see how it would affect eating habits. Subjects were selected to dine in either the unchanged dining area or the area that underwent a "fine dining makeover." The amount of time spent eating and the amount of food was recorded, as was the consumers' perception of their experience.
Results showed that consumers in the remodeled area lingered longer than those in the unchanged area. However, those in the remodeled area ate less food and were no more likely to order more items.
Also, diners in the fine dining area rated their food as more enjoyable, causing the researchers to conclude that changing the atmosphere can change food consumption habits and meal satisfaction.
According to the research summary: "If fast food restaurants want consumers to enjoy their food more they should tone down the lights and music and create a more relaxing atmosphere ... If we are less distracted by the surrounding environment and more focused on our food we are less likely to mindlessly eat."
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