82% of consumers wouldn’t return to business that gives off ‘bad vibes’

NEW YORK — Contemporary lingo is constantly evolving, with younger generations inventing new slang terms daily. Tired of hearing the word “vibes” everywhere? Don’t lay the blame solely on Generation Z – Millennials are just as guilty of using it, too.

That’s just one takeaway from a survey of 3,000 North Americans split evenly by generation, which sought to determine what might impact different demographics’ interactions with office spaces and other local businesses such as restaurants, cafés, hotels and more. 

While 18- to 26-year-olds were most likely to use the word “vibes” to describe how a place feels (48%), 27- to 42-year-olds weren’t far behind (47%) – and even surpassed their Gen Z counterparts in the United States (47% vs. 42%). Combined among both countries, that’s almost twice the rate as baby boomers ages 59 to 77 (22%). 

What ‘vibes’ mean for a business

Even if they don’t use the word itself, “vibes” can have an immediate impact on the success of a commercial space, as more than one in three respondents (45%) said it takes them less than ten minutes to determine how a new place feels to them.  

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Ambius, the survey also found that regardless of age, 83 percent felt more likely to go back to a business after picking up a good vibe there. Similarly, 82 percent felt less likely to go back to a business after picking up a bad vibe there.

After having a bad experience, more than one-third (35%) even said they’d actively dissuade others from going there as well — including more millennials (40%) than any other generation, and more U.S. respondents (36%) than Canadian ones (30%). Meanwhile, 42 percent of all Gen Zers (ages 18 to 26) would simply never go back there again.

When asked what would make them return despite the failed “vibe check,” respondents were equally likely to point out improved atmosphere (54%) and better service (54%) – suggesting that ambiance can be just as powerful as good customer interactions, in some cases.

Keys to success

“Having a well-decorated space doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be up to date on all the latest design trends,” says President of Ambius, Lorri MacHarg, in a statement. “What it does is signal to visitors that you actively care about not just the space itself, but the experience of those inhabiting it, which gives them greater incentive to connect with your business.”

Indeed, although 19 percent of respondents reported trendy design as an indicator of “good vibes,” even more opted for cleanliness (53%), windows (32%) and “good smells” (31%). Speaking of which, “unpleasant smells” was the greatest indicator of bad vibes among those polled (53%), along with dirty environments (41%) and dead or unkempt plants (32%). 

And although design trends can ebb and flow, survey-takers said that nature-inspired designs, like decorative plants (33%) and wood elements (32%), gave off the best vibes overall.

“Ideally, plants should be more than just a design choice, because they do more than just bring a pop of color and life to a room,” adds MacHarg. “Plants, especially green walls, have some ability to remove pollutants and reduce carbon dioxide in the air, which can positively impact fatigue, concentration and productivity. Additional benefits of plants can include increasing psychological comfort and well-being. They’ve also been revered for their impact on mental health, too, as it’s been found that being among plants can reduce stress.” 

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population U.S. residents  and 1040 Canadians, split evenly by generation, was commissioned by Ambius between March 24 and April 24, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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About the Author

Sophia Naughton

Meet StudyFinds’ Associate Editor, Sophia Naughton. Sophia graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication directly focused in journalism and advertising. She is also a freelance writer for Baltimore Magazine. Outside of writing, her best buddy is her spotted Pit Bull, Terrance.

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