The Changing Landscape of Selecting Restaurants

SEOUL, South Korea, April 25, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Scientists at Dongguk University explore the attributes influencing consumers’ choice between in-person dining and online food delivery. It investigates the interplay of online and offline platforms and how they evolve with time. The study reveals that while taste remains important, attributes unique to each platform significantly impact satisfaction and future behavior. Understanding these dynamics can help businesses enhance the dining experience and drive satisfaction.

The pandemic brought a significant change in consumer behavior, particularly in the food industry, with more people opting to order food from restaurants through their online delivery services. While visiting restaurants (offline platform) may have been a common practice earlier, the safety and convenience offered by food delivery applications (FDA) (online platform) have made them an attractive option for many consumers during the pandemic.

Online and offline platforms may offer comparable qualities of food, but each has unique attributes which might influence the customer’s choice of dining experience. However, the dynamics of the interaction between the restaurant- and FDA-specific attributes are not known. Therefore, it is important to understand how these distinct attributes interact and evolve, and impact the customer satisfaction–behavioral intention mechanism.

To fill this gap, Professor Hong-Youl Ha and Professor Yiyue Zhang from Dongguk University examined the association between satisfaction and behavioral intention (one’s relative strength of intention to perform a behavior) among restaurants and FDAs.

Our study underscores the importance of shifts in attribute weights on the online-to-offline (O2O) business platform,” explains Prof. Ha sharing the importance of their study.

For this, the researchers conducted a two-time lag survey from the beginning of January to the end of June 2022 and collected data from participants who had visited restaurants or used FDAs during the COVID-19 pandemic in mainland China. The respondents rated different attributes of each platform on a 5-point Likert scale. The study was published on 1 January 2024 in Volume 170 of the Journal of Business Research.

Analyses revealed that the attributes distinct to restaurants and FDAs are dynamic, and their importance keeps evolving with time. The study offered insights for restaurant and mobile application managers regarding the dynamics of attributes and the satisfaction–intention mechanism from a consumer’s perspective.

Explaining the long-term applications of the study, Prof. Ha concludes, “If consumers continue to use food delivery apps, it is possible to better understand the reasons and response directions regarding whether satisfaction with a specific brand is the reason they continue to use that or whether they switch to alternatives because the importance of other attributes changes.”

Title of original paper: The evolution of consumer restaurant selection: Changes in restaurant and food delivery application attributes over time
Journal: Journal of Business Research

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SOURCE Dongguk University