Nearly half of North Americans use ‘vibes’ to describe how a new space feels to them

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%). 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% felt more likely to go back to a business after picking up a good vibe there. Similarly, 82% 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% 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. “Having a well-decorated space doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be up to date on all the latest design trends,” said President of Ambius, Lorri MacHarg. “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% 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,” said Lorri 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." TOP TEN ESSENTIALS FOR GOOD VIBES Cleanliness - (53%) Windows - (32%) Good smells - (31%) Quiet atmosphere - (25%) Music playing - (24%) Trendy design - (19%) High ceilings - (18%) Plants or green space - (16%) Comfortable temperature - (16%) Abundant seating - (16%) TOP FIVE INDICATORS OF BAD VIBES Unpleasant smells - (53%) Dirty environment - (41%) Too cold or too hot - (37%) No windows - (33%) Dead or unkempt plants and greenery - (32%) 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).