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Eating Out: A Common Phenomenon Among Malaysians

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 4501 words Published: 24th Apr 2017

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Eating out is a common phenomenon among Malaysians. However, the selection of a restaurant is dependent on the restaurant variety, the consumer personality and the consumption context.

With the increase in discretionary income and change in lifestyle, dining out has become a common experience among university students. People begin to have more experiences in dining that lead to customer expect more from the restaurants and are more difficult to satisfy.

Restaurant consumption lifestyle is very related to food lifestyle. Kesic and Piri Rajh (1993) stated that food lifestyle can be desribed through behaviour of consumer as a function of individual characteristics and this can be create through the social interaction of psychological and also the past experience of consumer.

Dine out is known as consumption of food and drink eaten outside the home which is not obtained from the household’s stocks. Dine out is easily accesible, as in expensive hawker centers, coffee shops, air-conditioned food courts and fast-food restaurants whereas consumers have the ability to choose types of food and price (Dittmer,2002)

Restaurant consumption lifestyle among students depends on convenience of food and also restaurant itself, traditionality of food that they serve, concerning about health and nutrition, environment or atmosphere at the restaurant, the variety of menu that restaurants provided and also the price of food. Food-related lifestyle has five components fisrt is higher-order attributes of food products, second is consequences of using food product, third is shopping script, forth is meal preparation scripts and fifth is usage situations.

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The striking social, economic transformation, the increases in the types, the absolute number of retail venues and the greater variety of food products can influence the consumer purchasing behavior in restaurant consumption lifestyle. In the aspect of restaurant consumption lifestyle, the frequency that they dining outside of the home can give an idea what make them to dine out, with whom they usually go to dine out, where the location that they prefer and why they choose that place.

Dine out is not an option for those who are only has a limited time, it is also has become the favorable choice for those who like to obtain new eating environmnet, changing of menu, and for people who want to spend time with friend, colleagues or family. In order to fulfill the needs, peoples will patronize foodservice establishment. People have certain evaluative foodservice establishment criteria in their mind, such as the quality of the food and service provided ambience and the price.

1.2 Problem Statement

Restaurant consumption lifestyle is very general if we want to discuss among all types of consumers. However, in this research will try to understand about the restaurant consumption lifestyle between two major ethnic groups of university students. This research will come out what the motivation purchasing among two races in restaurant selection criteria.

Besides that, this research will find out what type of trend nowadays consumers preferred to go to the restaurant, for example what the restaurant selection criteria of restaurant consumers more preferred, why they choose that restaurant, when usually they go there, what they expect when they go to the restaurant and with whom they usually go there.

These studies have addressed issues such as the relationship between consumer behaviour, the demand pattern of restaurant consumption lifestyle and factors influencing consumer purchasing behavior. All of these issues are related with restaurant consumption lifestyle between two races of students because these issues are more to social science and behavior of consumers.

1.3 Objectives

The objectives of this study are:

To investigate the restaurant consumption lifestyle between two ethnic groups of university students.

To examine the motivation purchasing in consuming their meal at restaurant.

To determine the difference of restaurant selection criteria in normal and special dining out occasion.

1.4 Research Questions

Specifically two basic research questions underline this study:

Does the consumer behavior influence in the restaurant consumption lifestyle?

Is it have differences between two ethnics group of university students in restaurant consumption lifestyle?

What the motivation purchasing in restaurant consumption lifestyle between Malay and Chinese students?

1.5 Significance of the Study

This paper consists of information on consumers’ consumption pattern and factors that influence consumers’ purchasing decision. Indirectly, can understand why university student select one restaurant over the other, the marketer can use marketing strategy effectively to gain market and profit.

Besides that, managers also can understand the critical factors that influence customer’s behavior, loyalty and satisfaction in the food service industry and help them to improve in critical part or areas.

All the factors that effect consumer’s eating out in food service establishment may also directly affect the profitability of the food service operations. Therefore, this study is important to investigate the factors contributing to overall customer’s satisfaction and repurchase behavior. A food service manager needs to understand this relationship in order to enhance their customer’s need and satisfaction.



2.1 Eating Out

In this study, restaurant consumption lifestyle related with the contemporary patterns and the symbolic association of eating out and also related with patterns to social and demographic characteristics of households. Eating out has important implications for comprehensive understanding of nation’s diet. Eating out become famous trend in many people’s lives now (Koo et al, 1999).

Eating out is familiar among single-parent household and also career woman (Elmont, 1995). According to Finkelstein (1989), eating out can give the leisure motive of what they seeing and being seen in public also it can give the entertained by others. Britain showed that consumers increasingly consume their food outside the home (Driver, 1983). As a proportion of food expanding, eating away from home has been increasing since 1950s.

Food and its consumption can examine at several different levels and these will depend for one’s purpose, whereas attention needs to focus of the following nutrients, ingredients, dishes, meals and cuisine. Eating out has both practical and symbolic significance. People eating out because sometimes out of their necessity and sometimes they eating out because of for pleasure.

British Family Expenditure Survey had suggested that people eating out depends on their modes and could be expressed through food consumption (Warde & Tomlinson, 1995). The recent official data in UK stated that difference in the social group will give the results difference in the frequency of eating out. The income, age, gender, region, class and household composition will influence consumer eating out.

The major leisure motive of eating out can based on Mill’s belief which is relates to the psychological needs of human being (Mill, 2001). Eating out more than to preventing from suffering because of not enough food. In this research, results can support that people truly enjoy eating when psychologically as a part of leisure motive.

In addition, the another aspect of motivation on what causes of behavior, Herzberg’s two-factor theory such as hygiene factors and motivation can be apply in finding the results. Lack of concern about hygiene factors can cause of customer dissatisfaction.

Eating out had its role in modern consumption (Warde and Martens (1998) and eating out also had its significant because eating out can increase the penetration of commodification and consumer culture in everyday life. Riley (1994) stated that in Britain there were no cultural and psychological factors because consumers tend to evaluate their meal experience at the restaurant they went to.

Hygiene factor direct specialist to basic consumption on inexpensive food whereas, motivator give signal for self-identity will act to motivate the customer. People who’s have different meal options for different motive will produce the relationship between different types of dining experiences. This is can emphasize that meal can influence the consumer’s choice of a restaurant meal (June and Smith, 1087).

The frequency of eating out may vary, every age group, culture group, social class, and geographical community makes eating out an important from recreation. Eating out on a large scale is an interesting phenomenon of our changing society. Specifically, eating out is defined as patronize to any foodservice establishment by respondents of this study.

In this modern society, people eating out for variety of reason, which included avoiding from boredom, to socialize, to have different type of food, taste and convenience ( Tom Powers. 2002).

Lewis (1981) considered five factor for eating out which are food quality, menu variety, price, atmosphere and convenience factors. On the other hand, Jones (1996) identified six basic reasons as to why people eating out which are convenience, variety, labor, status, culture or tradition and impulse.


This factor includes those people who are away from some reason, who are physically unable to return at home during normal time and out it conjunction with some other leisure activity.


Variety of food is an important factor to attract consumer to one food premise. People, who live in circumstances where the meal experiences are limited, such as in the hawkers stall, may choose to eat out for this reason.


The desire to have someone else to prepare food, cook, serve and wash up a meal most certainly influences some people’s decision to dine-out.


Both for personal and business reasons people may choose to impress their guess by taking them out to a fashionable and expensive restaurant.


Eating can be described as a part of our culture heritage and a manifestation of kinship. For example, in Malaysia, celebration of special events such as anniversaries and birthday are often associated with eating out.


This is rather like saying that sometimes people have to no particular reason for eating out, they do so on the spur of movement. However, impulse buying is very significant and that it contributes to sales in the food service industry.

2.2 A Theory of Motivation Consumption Values

This theory will discuss about consumption values, explaining why consumer choose to buy or not to buy a specific product. Also discuss why consumers choose one product type over another and why consumers choose one brand over another. This theory consists of five consumption values that can influence consumer choice behavior. The five consumption values are functional value, social value, emotional value, epistemic value, and conditional value. In making a decision, any or all of the consumption values can influence of that.

2.2.1 Functional Value

Functional value is defined as alternative’s capacity for functional, profitable, or physical performance. An alternative receive the functional value through the utilitarian or profitable and also physical attitudes. Functional value can measured the profile of choice attributes. Generally, functional value is assumed to be the main driver of consumer choice. This assumption comes from Marshall (1890) and Stigler (1950), that strictly expressed in terms of ‘rational economic man’. Reliability, durability and price are characteristics that derived from alternative’s functional value. For example, the decision to purchase food in the fine dining restaurant must based on their income and ability to buy it.

2.2.2 Social Value

Social value is an alternative’s association with one or more specific social groups and through positively and negatively stereotyped demographic, socioeconomic, and cultural- ethnic groups. The choice imagery can be measured in profile of social value. The choices involved tangible of highly products and also for goods or service need to be shared with others are often lead by social value. For example, consumer choose to eat at fine dining may be chosen more for social image than for their necessity. Hyman (1942) research about reference groups said that individual behavior is strongly can influence by their group membership. Rogers (1962) and Robertson (1967) also suggested that interpersonal communication and information dissemination can influence in consumer choice.

2.2.3 Emotional Value

Emotional value is perceived from an alternative’s capacity to arouse feelings or affective states. An alternative’s get the emotional value when specific feelings continue those feelings. The feeling which associated with the alternative can be measured in profile of emotional value. Normally, goods and service are correlated with emotional responses and aesthetic alternatives. More tangible products have emotional value for example, some foods can rise the feeling of comfort through their correlated with childhood experiences. According to Dichter (1947) , carried out in motivation research that consumer choice may be lead by noncognitive and unconscious motives. A good and interesting of advertising and decoration of environment in marketing and promotion can enhance the emotional responses to marketed products (Martineau, 1958; Zajonc, 1968; Kotler, 1974; Holbrook, 1983; Park and Young, 1986).

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2.2.4 Epistemic Value

Epistemic value is an alternative’s to enhance the curiosity, provide novelty, and satisfy a desire for knowledge. Epistemic value can get from questionnaire items referring to curiosity, novelty, and knowledge. Epistemic value usually provide the overall new experiences and the alternative can be chosen because consumer is already bored or satisfied with their current products or brand for example they want to try new type of coffee brand and they curious in visiting a new restaurant or they have desire to learn in experiencing another culture. According to (Katz and Lazarsfeld, 1955; Howard and Sheth, 1969; Hansen, 1972; Hirschman, 1980), concept of epistemic value has been influenced by theory of exploratory, novelty seeking, and variety of motives that suggested activating the product search, trial, and switching the behaviors.

2.2.5 Conditional Value

Conditional value is a result by an alternative of the specific situation facing the choice maker. Conditional value presence of antecedent physical or social contingencies that can enhance its functional or social value. The choice contingencies are measuring profile of conditional value. The alternatives usually depend on the situation for example, some products of food only have when seasonal value or some of food only have once in a lifetime events. Many products of food have not more obvious conditional association. Hull (1963) and Howard (1969) recognized the importance of learning will take place a result of experience with a given situation.

2.3 Restaurant Attributes

Customers have their own reason to want to return to any restaurant. They are constantly seeking quality, value and desirable environment away from the pressures of daily life. Offering good food and good service is not enough to attract and retain customers. To gain a competitive advantage, restaurants need to offer good value in a favorable ambience.

According to Auty’s study (1992), there are ten factors influencing restaurant selection decision which are food type, food quality, and value for money, image and atmosphere, location, speed of service, recommend, new experience, operating hour and facilities for children. However, image and atmosphere were found to be the final choice between restaurants which were similar, and food quality and food type were the most important factor of restaurant selection.

2.3.1 Food Quality

Quality of food which contain the fresh ingredients has already been rated as the most important reason why customers return to the restaurant (Brumback, 1998). Technology plays an important function to maintain the quality of food. It means computer chips in refrigerators or fryers or ice-makers need to always maintain the temperature to avoid from any waste of foods.

2.3.2 Price

The price is to paid for a service is known as the level of quality to be demanded (Davis and Vollman,1990). Therefore, dining out becomes an integral part of consumers’ lifestyle, experienced consumers due to their expectations with regard to quality, while seeking a better value for their budget (Cullen,1994).

2.3.3 Environment

Ambience may give restaurants competitive edge and restaurants need to update their décor and concepts if they want to attract more customers and compete with others successfully. Belman said that: “Today, the most important thing is design and concept. The owner of restaurant need to invest money to create a good of decoration. It can be a good enjoyable and a fun dinner for social able people.

2.3.4 Location

Location plays the main important factor in consumer decision making. It is a critical location aspect of marketing strategy. As Hughes (1996) said that: “Good location allow ready access, can attract large numbers of consumers and significantly alter consumer purchasing patterns. As restaurant with very similar food offerings proliferate, even slight differences in location decision represent long-term financial commitments and changing poor locations can be difficult and costly”.

In a study by Bitner (1992) also found that convenience location and low prices are the top-ranked determinants of patronage.

2.3.5 Service Quality

Nowadays, customers have also been concerned about the quality of service. Service quality is viewed as an antecedent to satisfaction. Since the customer’s interaction with the service provider and the service-producing process have a significant impact on the customer’s perception of service quality and subsequently influence customer’s satisfaction, marketing concept, such as customer satisfaction should be incorporated into the management’s operational decision making process.

2.4 Factor Affect Restaurant Attributes Consideration

The importance of the restaurant attributes according to three main factors which are restaurant types, dining out occasion and occupation, age and income.

2.4.1 Restaurant Types

According to Lewis (1981), importance of restaurant attributes varied according to the four types of restaurant, which are categorized as fine dining, family, theme and convenience. Fine dining restaurant are friendliness of waiting staff, quality of food and environment. While family restaurant has top four choice variables are location, cleanliness, cost of food and speed of service. The theme restaurants are ambience factors, prestige, quality of food and location.

2.4.2 Dining Out Occasion

Restaurant chosen according to dining out occasion which are categorized as a celebration for instance birthday, a special occasion and business meal. The top three determinants variables for celebration occasion are quality of food, type of food and menu item variety. Whereas for special occasion are cleanliness, service and type of food. On the other hand, for business meal are quality of food, prestige and ambience factors (Kivela, 1997).

2.4.3 Occupation, Age and Income

Kivela (1997) has suggested that the determinant choice variables also changes according to occupation, age, and income segments. Financial people make their final restaurant choice on the basis of cost of food because of limited budget, location due to convenience, speed of service and quality of food.

2.4 Consumer Behavior in Food Service Industry

Consumers have potentially to deals with all ways people that may act in their role according to study about the consumer behavior ( Schiffman and Kanuk, 1991). In practice of consumer behavior there are more tends to focus upon behavior that related to searching, buying, used the products and also services. Normally, consumer will be assumed as groups and they will be identified through geo-demographic noticeable quality and they also will take as true to have common attitudes.

Food service literature consist example of segmentation surveys for example demand for different types of restaurant to different socio-economic segments. It shows that different of demographic and income will give the effect less of demand in consuming of food compared with population density of metropolitan areas.

In this study the purchase behavior is related to the act of consumers towards restaurant consumption lifestyle and according to Blackwell (1998), consumer behavior in food service industry always related with how people buy, when they buy, what they buy and why they buy. He also stated that consumer behavior in food service is a subcategory of marketing that combines all the elements from psychology, sociology, socio-psychology, anthropology and economics.

However, Gordon (1980) was used the behavioral sciences specifically for social psychology and sociology to understand more what customers wants and needs. He mentioned that through consumer’s psychological backgrounds can investigate the consumers in order to establish the extent to which factors like attitudes, motives and personality traits affect buying behavior. Whereas, social can influence such as class, status and also family. These were contributed to the understanding of consumer decision making.

Mattila et al. (2002) had mentioned that the purchasing of food is a complex phenomenon. This is because the food must be available when consumer wants it, always at an affordable price and quality of food is in acceptable level. All of these will arrange consumer to select the right kinds of restaurant in order to eat their food for overall well being as well as to meet nutritional requirement.

Food service industry has characteristics in an apart of the service sector which is in financial and professional services. However, Campbell-Smith (1967), it is much related with food choice and quality but at the same time food service offer meal experience to which many factors. Some of the restaurants characteristic in finding the consumers are choice and quality of food and drink, the price or value, service, atmosphere, location and convenience. (Auty, 1992; Gregoire et al (1995).

However, Pettijohn et al. (1997) found the three most important for consumer in selecting the restaurant are quality, cleanliness and value. Whereas, the atmosphere in the restaurant and also the variety of menu which offered in the restaurant were not relatively important. Many studies showed that quality of food was very importance and consumers just see the service as several factors that influenced in quality of restaurant offered.

According to Kara et al. (1995), demographic of consumer will give the different expectations of the type of food served, location of restaurants and also the cost of the food they spent. Not only the attribute values concerned with consumer satisfaction, but the wide value also can concerned in consumer satisfaction for instance, the choice making in the individual at the time they purchase is very significant point that can affect in restaurant consumer’s satisfaction.



3.1 Introduction

This research used the qualitative method which is individual interview. The information obtained from this research is beneficial to food service industry to understand what the consumers expect from them and can help food service industry to improve the satisfaction among consumers. In order to do so, methodology and procedure were designed to ensure high quality and standard of the study in obtaining reliable information. This study will include the location of the study, sampling procedure, data collection procedure, and research instrument and data analysis.

3.2 Location of the study

This research need to compare the restaurant consumption lifestyle between student and working people, so the interview was conducted fully in Universiti Putra Malaysia. This place was used because there is a lot of Malay and Chinese students thus, reliable information can be obtained among the respondents.

3.3 Sampling Design

The sampling method used in this study wwas convenience sampling. This sampling method is selected because it is convenience and relatively quick. The respondent will easy to get to do the interviewing. In this study, a total of respondents are 30.

3.4 Research Instrument

In this study, the interview question was unstructured question and the answer will depends on the respondents. However, in this research there is still have question for the respondents. Respondents were asking about:

Where and what kind of place or restaurant they eat most often.

What type of food they eat often and why they choose that type. Respondents need to describe the food due to taste, colour and appearance.

In what way the food is convenience for them.

What the purpose or motivation factor they eating out?

If they have special dish to eat, when they will go out, what they want to eat and why they want eat it.

Did they will go only restaurant that sell of the food for example they will go Italian Restaurant or Pizza Hut if they want to eat Italy food.

In one week, how many times they eating at the restaurant?

What the criteria they will choose if they eating at the restaurant? Why?





3.5 Data Analysis

This research was analyzed through interview content. The data from interview need to transcribe carefully and then starting to analyze each of the respondent interview. The content analysis consists of reading and re-reading the transcripts looking for similarities and differences in order to find objective and to develop categories.


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