From fashion to luxury, food and leisure, Valentine’s Day has successfully anchored itself in the retail and service economy in the UK. Dining out remains the key gift category, with Britons spending a whopping £391 million in restaurants on Valentine’s Day last year. The competition to win the hearts and minds of potential customers is fierce and restaurants need to create exciting, immersive and romantic experiences if they are to succeed.
At Mood Media, we are all about creating the perfect customer experiences through exhilarating the senses. As such, our Valentine’s Day guide covers the best way to entice consumers and ensure that love is quite literally in the air, using scent, sound, taste, and so helping restaurants to curate the perfect romantic setting this Valentine’s Day.
For restaurants wanting to weave romance into every level of their sensory marketing, the soundtrack to Valentine’s Day is of critical importance. Memory has a powerful effect when it comes to the songs we find the most romantic. Even generic pop songs can be instilled with a sense of romance if we hear them playing when we’re with that special someone. The most romantic songs, however, tend to follow a certain formula to inspire audiences and play on their heartstrings; romantic ballads generally have a slower tempo, build in intensity throughout the song, and have lyrics that paint a rich story for audiences to connect with. Despite this, we don’t recommend restaurants filling their playlists with predictable ballads this Valentine’s Day. While a few sprinkled in won’t hurt, we would go for songs that have a softer tone and help produce a warm, romantic ambiance whilst not sounding too downbeat, allowing people to talk with their other half in a relaxed atmosphere.
Restaurants are rich with enticing aromas, and scent plays a vital role in awakening the senses and creating lasting memories. Research has proven that we tend to associate scents with specific locations, products, and experiences. In essence, every restaurant should have a scent marketing strategy that plays on the links between fragrance and memory. This powerful connection is scientifically established as The Sense of Smell Institute uncovered. People are able to remember scent with 65% accuracy after a full year, whereas they can only recall visual cues with 50% accuracy after three months. Restaurateurs can learn from this and use scent in a way that activates memories, and encourages couples visiting on Valentine’s Day to connect the restaurant environment to a positive, memorable night. That being said, restaurants more than any other establishment are able to rely on the delicious smells coming from their own creations which will naturally allow the customer to feel absorbed in the environment.
Away from sensory marketing, restaurants also commonly create a special Valentine’s Day menu to offer customers something new, seasonal and exciting each year. Using a Valentine’s Day menu as a fun, inventive way to stimulate and entertain couples can offer an experience beyond everyday dining. For example, restaurants could start their menus with asparagus paired with a black truffle dressing – many different cultures have claimed that asparagus is an aphrodisiac with the French at one time supposedly eating it in three separate meals the day before their wedding day. And for the main course? Salmon and oysters are both believed to be high in amino acids and omega-3 which promote hormones linked to love like oestrogen and testosterone. Finally, the perfect romantic dessert: chocolate covered figs. Both chocolate and figs have been linked to romance throughout history. Chocolate also has a multilayer scent causing a mouth watering effect for humans automatically making us crave and desire the sweet treat even from the faintest aromas.
Valentine’s Day is a special calendar moment and a hugely lucrative opportunity for restaurateurs given the popularity of dining out. Restaurants should look to stimulate consumers on a multi-sense level, curating a stimulating environment and enabling people to share memorable immersive experiences with their partner. Ultimately, engaging with people on Valentine’s Day promotes brand loyalty beyond the holiday itself, to give people a reason to visit your restaurant regardless of the occasion. Beyond the holiday itself this insight remains salient as Britain’s restaurants should focus on providing experiences which allow visitors to lose themselves and fall in love in a unique setting.