Differences in Restaurants


Will a Difference in Restaurant Lead to Consumer Changing where they Eat? A

Comparison of Stockton High Street with Yarm High Street

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Literature Review


This research study endeavors to assess the factors that influence consumer decisions in the choice of a restaurant. Accordingly, this section will evaluate relevant literature on consumers and services, along with the key characteristics of services that make them unique in comparison with physical goods. They include among others permeability, intangibility, inseparability, and variability.  Also, the section will also review past literature that has examined in detail the issue of consumers’ restaurant selection.

Consumers and Services

There is a dire need for service providers to study consider behaviors in regards to their choice and assessment of offerings (Zeithaml, 1981). Consumers differ in their choice of services when compared to how they decide to choose physical goods. This is due to the distinctive characteristics of services, along with the high quality of experience while dealing with services. For these reasons, it becomes increasingly harder for consumers to assess services in comparison with physical goods. A number of studies (for example, Kotler et al. 1998; Zeithaml 2003) argue that the key features that differentiate services from physical goods are: variability, perishability, intangibility, and inseparability.


Services tend to be highly variable. A certain service could vary in terms of performance across service employees, service encounters, service providers, and consumers (Zeithaml &

Bitner 2003).  Restaurant operators often encounter problems in trying to retain consistent performance levels of service quality and food quality. For instance, a good waiter who offers excellent services on a good day could feel the pressure of a destructive complaint from a diner (s) and could see him/her reverting to the provision of poor service (Kotler et al. 1998).


According to Rammaniya (1998), consumers resort to the use of intangible and tangible factors in order to arrive at restaurant choice decisions. The main intangible factors include service quality, food quality, as well as value for money (Soriano 2002).  However, owing to the fact that services are intangible in nature, it becomes hard to assess these factors before one can make a purchase. As a result, restaurant patrons frequently make use of tangible clues like décor, restaurant facilities, and atmosphere as the guiding principles in trying to develop expectations of the establishment (Wall & Berry 2007).


For most services, you need to purchase them before you can produce and consume them. Zeithaml and Bitner (2003) argue that both the production as well as the consumption of a service experience takes place concurrently. A restaurant service entails a high contact level between service employees and diners. For this reason, it is important to ensure that the performance and skills of the staff is of high quality as these will play a significant role in informing the perception of the diners regarding the restaurant experience (Kotler et al. 1998).


You cannot store services. In contrast, physical goods can be stored and sold in the future. Once you fail to sell services, they cease to exist (Hoffman & Bateson, 2001). For instance, in case a customer has reserved a certain table at a restaurant, the restaurateur will be compelled to turn down other diners in case the restaurant is full. If such a customer never shows up, that would be lost business (Kotler 1998).  Consumers also tend to be very unpredictable in terms of their demand for services. Accordingly, it becomes hard for service providers to balance the demand and supply of services (Hoffman & Bateson, 2001).

Past Studies on factors that determine Consumers’ Restaurant Selection Behavior

A number of past studies that have endeavored to examine consumer behavior in the choice of the restaurant have revealed several factors that consumers take into account while selecting a restaurant to dine in. Lewis (1981) sought to determine the effect of advertising and the associated benefit features on the decisions by consumers to go to a given restaurant. The research analyzed three types of restaurants: atmosphere, popular/family, and gourmet. The study’s research findings revealed that food quality was the most significant factor that determine the

consumer choice of a restaurant. On the other hand, there was a difference in the other factors based on the type of restaurant.

Elsewhere, Auty (1992) determined the choice characteristics in consumers’ restaurant selection behavior on the basis of four occasions: a social occasion, celebration, business meal, and a quick/convenience meal.  Auty reported that food quality, value, and food type were the most significant choice parameters for consumers while main their restaurant choices. It is important however to note that the order of the aforementioned choice differed based on the dining occasions. Auty (1992) further contends that in case consumers perceived that restaurants offered comparable food quality, price, and food type, they would go for the atmosphere and image of the restaurant while deciding on the restaurant to dine at.

Kivela (1997) sought to evaluate the key choice parameters of restaurant choice in four various forms of restaurants, including atmosphere/theme, gourmet/dining, fast-food/convenience, and popular/family restaurants. The study’s research findings revealed that the comparative significance of the restaurant selection varied substantially based on dining occasion, occupation, restaurant type, and age.


The above review of past literature has reviewed four uniques characteristics of services that differentiate them from physical goods, and which inform the customers’ choice of services. They include variability, perishability, intangibility, and inseparability. In addition, the key factors that determine consumers’ restaurant selection behavior include food quality, food type, price. In addition, consumers will also base their choice of restaurant type based on the image of the restaurant and atmosphere.

Reference List

Auty, S 1992,’ Consumer choice and segmentation in the restaurant industry’, The

Service Industries Journal, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 324-339.

Hoffman, KD & Bateson, JE 2001. Essentials of services marketing: Concepts,

strategies, and cases (2nd ed.). Ohio: South-Western.

Kivela, J 1997,’ Restaurant marketing: Selection and segmentation in Hong Kong’,

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 116-


Kotler, P, Bowen, J & Makens, J 1998. Marketing for hospitality and tourism

(2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Lewis, RC 1981,’ Restaurant advertising: Appeals and consumers’ intentions’,

Journal of Advertising Research, vol. 21, no. 5, pp. 69-74.

Rammaniya, S 1998. Exploratory study into the purchase decision criteria used by

Auckland consumers in restaurant selection. Unpublished master’s thesis,

Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Soriano, DR 2002,’ Customers’ expectations factors in restaurants: The situation in

Spain’, The International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management,

vol. 19, no. 8/9, pp.  1055-1067.

Wall, EA & Berry, LL 2007,’ The combined effects of the physical environment

and employee behaviour on customer perception of restaurant service quality’,

Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 59-69.

Zeithaml, VA & Bitner, MJ 2003. Services marketing: Integrating customer

focus across the firm (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

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