Consumer decision making in restaurant selection

  • Pedro Longart

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The aim of this study was to investigate consumers’ decision of selecting a restaurant for leisure. It was based on research carried out in the South East of the UK. In line with the cognitive paradigm the importance of attributes was approached from the theoretical perspective of utility theory in which consumers pursue maximisation of benefits from the service which they are evaluating. This study follows a sequential mixed methods approach. It consists of a qualitative stage followed by a quantitative stage, each one adhering to the precepts of their own paradigms. The qualitative stage was based on data collected through six focus groups of four to six respondents. An interview guide was used in semi-structured settings and data was analysed using applied thematic analysis. The second stage employed an online survey generating quantitative data from 376 respondents. The theme of ‘eating out occasion’, such as a romantic dinner, was a key element of the decision-making process. This thesis presents a framework for examining the different stages of the decision using the stylised Engels, Kollat and Blackwell (EKB) model (Tuan-Phan and Higgins, 2005). Its stages delve into the influence of emotions, motivations and the consumer’s regulatory focus in the decision. The methodological design with the possibility of selecting attributes, emerging from the qualitative stage, offers a contribution to the use of conjoint analysis for complex decisions. The study also proposes a new typology of restaurant attributes, with seven categories influencing perceived consumer value. The study’s findings further indicate that price is a factor influencing the expectations from the other attributes. The study considers a number of implications for the industry, such as, the importance of service and consumers’ willingness to pay more for a service that is friendly, welcoming and attentive. It also suggests many areas for further research.
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
  • Buckinghamshire New University
SupervisorAli Bakir (Supervisor) & Eugenia Wickens (Supervisor)


  • Consumer behavior
  • Consumer satisfaction
  • Gastronomy
  • Food habits
  • Restaurants

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