Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Moore School of Business

Sub-Department

Hospitality Management

First Advisor

Robin B. DiPietro

Abstract

Sustainability initiatives have become increasingly important and relevant to the foodservice industry. Despite the fact that consumer demand for sustainable restaurant practices has grown substantially over the last 10 years, consumers’ pro-environmental attitudes and behavioral intentions are not always turned into concordant behavior. Though foodservice operators continue to make progress in developing new methods and strategies for implementing sustainable practices into operations, getting consumers to behave in accordance with their demand is a major challenge.

The purpose of this quasi-experimental study is to determine if consumers’ attitudes towards local food, widely considered a sustainable restaurant practice, are congruous with their behaviors, and how communicating the use of local food on a restaurant menu can influence consumers’ perceptions of restaurant image and purchase behavior. Using prominent attitude-behavior theories to frame the research, a conceptual model was developed for testing the hypothesized relationships between the independent constructs of environmental consciousness and perception of menu information, and the outcomes of perception of restaurant image and purchase behavior.

Data were collected via a survey instrument administered randomly to eligible guests who were dining at an independent, upscale casual restaurant located in a mid-sized metropolitan city in the southeastern United States. Over a four-week time period in which surveys were administered, restaurant consumers were exposed to three types of menu treatments via the restaurant’s daily special menu. To test the conceptual model, a quantitative methodology was taken and two statistical procedures were used: logistic regression and structural equation modeling (SEM).

Overall, 512 individuals participated in the study and 202 individuals purchased a local food item during the four-week study. Results showed that environmental consciousness was a fairly weak predictor of purchase behavior, demonstrating the presence of a possible attitude-behavior gap. However, the relationship between consumers’ perception of the menu information and perception of restaurant image was statistically significant, suggesting that the information on a menu plays a strong role in the development of a customer’s perception of restaurant image. Implications of the findings as they relate to both academicians and industry practitioners are discussed, along with future research opportunities.

Share

COinS