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Title: The impact of social media use on smartphones for consumers' restaurant decision-making processes and restaurant consumption experiences
Author: Hwang, Jooyoung
ISNI:       0000 0004 7431 5558
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2018
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Today, travellers expect to obtain pleasure and regard the restaurant as an important travel attribute. In the tourism and hospitality industry, the use of developed tools (e.g., smartphones and location-based tablets) has been popularised as a way for travellers to easily search for information and to book venues. Through reviewing previous literature regarding consumers’ decision-making processes, it is identified that a large number of previous researchers have studied how consumers’ decision-making processes are performed and what factors affect their decision. However, there are few studies that examine consumers’ decision-making processes with the use of social media when choosing a restaurant. This study investigates consumers’ activities and the usefulness of social media on smartphones when they are deciding on a restaurant. More importantly, this research takes into account the three stages of consumption (pre-, during, and post purchasing) separately to understand the heterogeneity in the usage of social media to identify different functions of social media according to different decision tasks. The main aim of this study is to fill a research gap by exploring the impact of social media use on consumers’ restaurant decision-making processes and understanding how these are manifested in the restaurant sector. Considering the main research aim presented above, the specific research questions of this study are to examine the key factors related to adopting social media on smartphones for interviewees’ decision-making processes for selecting a restaurant, to investigate in depth how respondents utilise social media on smartphones for their restaurant decision-making process in accordance with the different consumption stages, to evaluate the usefulness of interviewees’ social media use on smartphones for their restaurant selection, and to obtain deep insight into respondents’ experiences regarding their restaurant decision-making processes in their own words. Qualitative research using semi-structured interviews based on the face-to-face approach was adopted for this study to examine how consumers’ restaurant selection processes are performed with the utilisation of social media on smartphones. Then, thematic analysis was adopted for this study, as many researchers believe that this can be used to analyse results based on a ‘way of seeing’ and this method is appropriate for qualitative researchers in early stages. Based on thematic analysis, this study was able to achieve more realistic results and descriptions in terms of coding, as the researcher of this study tried to follow their expressions when creating ‘codes’. The finding of this research has shown that the adoption of social media on smartphones is positively related with consumers’ gratification. More specifically, when consumers regard that process, content and social gratification are satisfied, their intention to adopt social media is fulfilled. Moreover, the findings of this research imply that consumers’ social media use on smartphones before visiting a restaurant is predominantly related to information acquisition for the restaurant choice (e.g., deciding on a dish and a restaurant, looking at images and checking descriptions of food taste etc.), while the usage of social media during and after visiting a restaurant includes activities related to sharing their experiences by uploading photos and leaving textual reviews, as well as recommending the restaurant to others. In addition to this, it has been revealed that consumers’ restaurant decision-making processes now do not finish right after they have had a meal, as they are still interested in searching for and finding others’ thoughts regarding the same restaurant even after their restaurant visit. Furthermore, it could be regarded that consumers’ social media usage after visiting a restaurant is associated with mutual communication with other followers and there is a possibility that this kind of activity might influence social media users’ next decision-making processes as well. Based on this reasoning, it is suggested by this study that consumers’ restaurant decision-making process needs to be understood in that each stage of the decision-making process is not independent; all the stages of the restaurant selection process are organically connected and influence each other. Thus, it is regarded that the findings of this study can provide a foundation for the understanding of consumers’ restaurant decision-making behaviours based on advanced information technology. More specifically, this study identifies the factors/determinants that influence consumers’ decisions and examines how the specific stages of the decision-making process are performed. This study attempts to provide a comprehensive picture on the impact of restaurant consumers’ social media use as a whole, throughout the restaurant decision-making process. In addition, the findings of the current research offer practical implications for marketers in the tourism and hospitality industry to develop effective social media marketing; for instance, marketers in the restaurant industry are expected to highlight real consumers’ positive reviews regarding restaurants so that these reviews can easily be found with the aid of technology supports (e.g., GPS services) when consumers approach an area in which restaurants are located. Also, restaurant practitioners are advised to regularly manage consumers’ positive or negative comments about their restaurant experiences.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available