Branding to a 5-Star Standard

The Merchant Kitchen serves up a cuisine inspired by travel across 21 cities in 14 countries in Latin America and Asia. Being meters away from the MTS Centre, the downtown Winnipeg restaurant packs house during concert and sporting events. The restaurant is known for their specialized menu, refreshing cocktails, and top-notch service.

The Merchant has also received recognition from national publications like The Food Network, which crowned the restaurant with the title of Best Chicken in Canada.


Like most new restaurants, The Merchant Kitchen had a few kinks to work out when they first opened. Although The Merchant Kitchen’s service and menu improved to a five-star standard, their online review score remained undeservedly low due to some less than flattering reviews upon opening. According to a study done by Harvard University, a 1-star increase in review ratings translates into an 8% increase in sales for businesses. Improving The Merchant Kitchen’s review score was not just important— it was critical.

According to a study done by Harvard University, a 1-star increase in review ratings translates into an 8% increase in sales for businesses. Improving The Merchant Kitchen’s review score was critical.


When a customer has a good experience with a business, they tell their friends; when a customer has a bad experience with a business, they tell the whole world. Exchange’s challenge was to get customers who had a positive experience with The Merchant Kitchen to leave a review online.


Exchange found plenty of positive customer feedback through the restaurant’s social media accounts, but although customers were expressing their satisfaction on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, The Merchant Kitchen’s overall online review score was not improving. Exchange saw that this was not an issue of the restaurant fulfilling expectations, but rather a lack of new online reviews.


Exchange designed a custom email to send to past customers who had given permission to be contacted by the restaurant, prompting them to review their experience at The Merchant. If the customer left a 1-4 star review, the feedback went directly to the restaurant’s management. If the customer left a 5-star review, they were asked to share their review with their friends on Facebook, Yelp, Google, and other various review sites.


Setting up and implementing the email campaign was quick and easy for The Merchant Kitchen. Exchange took photos on-site to help promote new menu items and announcements in the email newsletter, in addition to asking customers for their feedback.

Exchange also located and engaged with negative reviews, giving a voice to Merchant’s brand and connecting customers with the restaurant. Speaking with dissatisfied reviewers prompted them to be more critical of their own reviews. We encouraged them to give the restaurant another go, often resulting in reviewers improving their ratings.


This strategy led to an increase in 5-star reviews. Addressing any user who had given a review under 5 stars also provided valuable insights to the management, allowing them to further improve their restaurant operations.

Improving your brand’s identity is one of many things we pride ourselves on. Find out more about our services here.

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