Research Article: Constructing a consumption model of fine dining from the perspective of behavioral economics

Date Published: April 11, 2018

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Sheng-Hsun Hsu, Cheng-Fu Hsiao, Sang-Bing Tsai, Yong Deng.


Numerous factors affect how people choose a fine dining restaurant, including food quality, service quality, food safety, and hedonic value. A conceptual framework for evaluating restaurant selection behavior has not yet been developed. This study surveyed 150 individuals with fine dining experience and proposed the use of mental accounting and axiomatic design to construct a consumer economic behavior model. Linear and logistic regressions were employed to determine model correlations and the probability of each factor affecting behavior. The most crucial factor was food quality, followed by service and dining motivation, particularly regarding family dining. Safe ingredients, high cooking standards, and menu innovation all increased the likelihood of consumers choosing fine dining restaurants.

Partial Text

Fine dining restaurants are operated with a high-price consumption model; to motivate consumers to pay a premium for fine dining, upscale restaurants should generate relatively high utility and satisfy highly specific needs from a behavioral economics perspective. Fine dining restaurant managers should understand consumer needs, but most managers fail to accurately comprehend and satisfy them, resulting in the withdrawal of restaurants from the market [1]. Consumers’ perceptions of fine dining restaurants have gradually shifted from exquisite traditional French cuisine and international etiquette to innovative dishes, trendy decorations, and a younger customer base [1], indicating a change in consumers’ needs. Jung and Yoon [2] believed that satisfactory restaurant services encourage revisits: consumers with variety-seeking orientation may desire to experience new things despite their satisfaction with the restaurant and thus may choose other restaurants, indicating that their hedonic motive is stronger than their benefits motive. Ponnam and Balaji [3] noted that motives may affect restaurant assessment and selection, and restaurant function must satisfy consumers’ needs to influence their decision making. Maslow [4] divided needs into five hierarchically arranged categories, namely physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization needs, which are ranked from lower-level physiological needs to higher-level psychological needs. Tikkanen [5] subjected consumers’ food service needs to hierarchical classification on the basis of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and published an empirical study showing that individuals have different food consumption needs. Chen, Peng, and Hung [6] stated that the reason for dining at fine dining restaurants is not merely out of basic needs; diners’ emotions and loyalties also affect the choice of fine dining restaurants. Consumers with distinct expectations display different responses toward stimuli, and their diverse demands for fine dining restaurants warrant exploration in depth.

The study was reviewed and approved by an institutional review board at the Department of Technology Management, Chung Hua University (ethics committee). All participants freely decided to take part in the study or not and provided their verbal informed consent. The questionnaire was designed for a study investigating consumer behavior in fine dining restaurants, and no commercial interests are involved. No particular written consent form was necessary because the act of obtaining individual written informed consent would have compromised the anonymity of the participants’ decision to participate. Their names were not recorded, and the only personal information they were required to provide was their age and gender in order to preserve the anonymity of their responses. This consent procedure was specifically approved by the Ethics Committee mentioned above.

The regression analysis was first conducted using gender and age as control variables. The result showed that the influences of gender and age on the choice of fine dining restaurants were nonsignificant (Table 3).