How Important is Nutrition within the 'Ideal' eating out experience? A Descriptive Comparison Among Southern United States Consumers
Birla Institute of Technology
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure
Eating out experiences can project different images, desires and expectations among consumers. Depending on the overall outcome of these experiences, consumers may have a positive impact on a business through continued patronage or word-of-mouth advertising, while in the case of dissatisfying experiences their response may even harm an establishment's image. From a group of 305 participants, this study explores consumers' viewpoint of the ideal eating out experience and in the process seeks to identify keywords that are evoked in their definition of this experience. This information could prove invaluable to restaurant professionals in better meeting the needs of consumers in terms of both product and service delivery. The importance of 'good food' is acknowledged as the major 'illustrator' of the eating out experience, followed by price concerns and the establishment's atmosphere. Overall, these findings are nothing new. However, interestingly, at times when people are encouraged, even urged to engage in healthy eating habits, respondents only marginally consider healthy food choices as part of their ideal eating out experience, while freshness of foods is almost totally unimportant to them. These last findings could have several implications for the hospitality industry. Moreover, despite consumers' apparent lack of interest or involvement in healthy food consumption, restaurateurs can contribute towards consumers' knowledge on healthier food alternatives, and in the process provide- and benefit from- pleasurable eating out experiences.