Do words matter? Consumers’ perceptions of words used to describe restaurant menu items
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Citation (published version)Y. Bai, S. Jung, C. Behnke. 2021. "Do Words Matter? Consumer’ Perceptions of Words Used to Describe Restaurant Menu Items." Graduate Education and Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism. The 26th Annual Graduate Education and Graduate Student Research Conference in Hospitality and Tourism. Virtual, 2021-01-08 - 2021-01-09.
INTRODUCTION: The menu is an integral component of a restaurant’s core strategy (McCall & Lynn, 2008). Menus are used to describe dishes to help consumers understand potential ingredients, textures, and tastes (Kincaid & Corsun, 2003). Analogous to speeches by professional speakers, a menu requires carefully chosen words to make it exciting and memorable (Bowen & Morris, 1995). Menu descriptions build a mental image of the food prior to consumption, which can influence consumers’ decision-making process (Drysdale & Galipue, 2008). Subsequently, the congruency of this mental image with customer expectation drives selection behavior (Lockyer, 2006). Given that menus are critical tools for marketing a restaurant meal, word selection and patterns must be carefully crafted in order to facilitate this communication. The menu serves several functions for both the restaurateur and the customer (McCall & Lynn, 2008). Practitioners and academic researchers alike agree that the menu is an important communicative tool, though how menu items should be described is still debatable. Mills and Thomas (2008) proposed the Customer Information Expectation of Restaurant Menu (CIERM) model, suggesting that menu effectiveness is affected by nutrition information, product information and availability of food preparation. Building upon the CIERM model, this study aims to examine consumers’ preferences over menu word choice based on current industry practice. This study could contribute to enriches the literature on menu word item descriptions by first examining current practices and then testing the effect of menu word choice on consumers’ choice.