Gold Is the Midas Touch of Tipping

February 3, 2019
Gold Is the Midas Touch of Tipping

A study published in the March 2018 Journal of the Academy of Marketing Sciences reported that the color gold in restaurants can lead to a higher tip for the wait staff.

Previous studies have demonstrated a weak relationship between good service and tip size. In this study, the researchers compared the effect on tip size by varying the color of tablecloths (white vs. gold) and billing folders (black vs. gold).

Black folders resulted in an average tip of 18.9%, while gold folders had an average of 21.5% in tips.

This post is based on the Marketwatch article, A touch of gold in a restaurant means fatter tips, by Na Young Lee, January 18, 2019; and the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Sciences article, Hey big spender! A golden (color) atmospheric effect on tipping behavior, by N.Y. Lee, S.M. Noble, and D. Biswas, March 2018. Image source: JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. How can the study results be used to improve restaurant operations?

Guidance: At first, this appears to be a marketing study.  And it is!  But students should also see that marketing information can be used to create a more profitable service operation.  Some questions to consider: Is it easier to retain good wait staff if tips are known to be larger at a given restaurant? Does retaining a good staff long term result in better productivity?  Can this knowledge of the color gold’s effect be used in other service delivery aspects of a restaurant?

2. What color scheme would be most appropriate to stimulate sales at a BMW dealership?

Guidance: Students should have to think about this.  BMW has a sporty image, so red may be relevant.  Or the high price of a BMW may lead students to consider gold.  Would blue or green be relevant?  How about the repair facility?  Should this area be red to stimulate productivity?

The point is to get the students to consider the impact color can have on both sales and labor productivity.  Color is an important aspect of a servicescape.


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