حق عضویت رستوران و انتخاب مشتری: اثرات هزینه و احساس پشیمانی غرق شده
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|20914||2007||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Hospitality Management, Volume 26, Issue 3, September 2007, Pages 687–697
Membership marketing is highly prevalent in today's restaurant industry. The purpose of the study was to examine the joint effects of membership fees and competition on customer choice, willingness to join other programs and feelings of regret in a restaurant setting. Using a 2×2×22×2×2 experimental design, the study found that the effect of sunk cost and mental accounting do exist. Moreover, high levels of regret were detected when a higher membership fee was paid and when the competition provided superior service or a lower membership fee. However, when the membership fee was low, customers were more reluctant to go to another restaurant that offered a membership program. Marketing implications for restaurateurs are discussed.
Membership marketing is gaining popularity in the United States. In its early days, membership marketing was limited to prestigious offerings such as exclusive country clubs. Yet, today membership marketing is common in various settings such as warehouse clubs, athletic facilities, and video rentals (Dick and Lord, 1998). In addition, many restaurant operators offer low fee or free membership programs. For example, Warren's Lobster House membership requires a $10 annual fee (http://www.lobsterhouse.com/frequent.html); Levy's preferred membership is free (http://www.levyrestaurants.com/levy/other/levy+preferred+information+levy+restaurants.html); and Chicago based LEYE membership requires a one-time $25 enrollment fee (Ragone, 2005). Consumers sign up for membership in hope for preferential treatment and cost benefits. From the operator's perspective, a well-crafted membership program translates into favorable consumer attitudes and loyalty behaviors (Dick and Lord, 1998). Moreover, some companies (e.g., warehouse clubs) launch membership programs in order to increase their market share (Friedman, 2003). Despite its wide application in the restaurant industry, some people remain skeptical about the effectiveness of membership marketing (Stauss et al., 2005 and Skogland and Siguaw, 2004). For instance, membership fees might have a negative impact on consumers’ willingness to try a new restaurant. On the other hand, offering low cost or no-fee based memberships can be risky as such efforts minimize switching barriers. The primary purpose of this study is to examine the impact of membership marketing on consumer choices in a restaurant setting. Moreover, we want to investigate the role of membership fees in influencing feelings of regret via the notion of sunk costs.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This study sheds some light into the value of membership marketing in the restaurant industry. Prior research suggests that sunk costs such as membership fees influence consumers’ attitudes and choice behaviors. Specifically, membership fees tend to increase commitment (Fullerton, 2003), thus enhancing behavioral loyalty. In this study, we examined the joint effects of competition and membership fees on customer choices and feelings of regret. Overall, our results support the notion that consumers are sometimes irrational in their choices. Between 20–28% of respondents chose Restaurant A regardless of the fact that its competitor had a superior product. In other words, people felt committed to Restaurant A due to the fact that they had paid a fee to join their membership club. These results are congruent with the sunk cost effect. It is interesting to note that some people chose Restaurant A even when the competitor offered a better product and a free membership. Soman and Cheema (2001) suggested that windfall-gains can offset the sunk cost effect. In our context, Restaurant B's superior service quality combined with a free membership can be considered as a windfall-gain. Yet, even in these extreme competitive conditions, the initial membership fees created some level of behavioral loyalty. However, we cannot be certain that membership fee itself acts as a large switching barrier. Our study shows that about three out of four customers chose the alternative restaurant offering either better service and/or free membership fee, even if they had committed resources to an initial membership fee. Hence, in severe competition, the membership fee may fail to keep the customer from being loyal. It is also important to note that a large membership fee ($100) failed to create stronger switching barriers than a minimal fee of $10. Consequently, modest membership fees might be preferable if the goal is to attract new customers (Dick, 1995). In addition to examining the effects of initial membership fees on future choices, we investigated their impact on consumers’ willingness to join a competitor's membership program. The study findings suggest that when the initial membership fee is low ($10), then consumers are more reluctant to join a new membership program unless such a membership comes at no cost. Conversely, when the initial membership is priced at $100, then the likelihood of joining the competitor's program is high regardless of its cost. These findings can be partly explained in terms of mental accounting. Joining a second membership program is considered as an extra cost regardless of whether it is a better deal or not. In particular, having to pay the same amount for the second membership is hard to accept as it represents a large expenditure in a given budget category. However, when the initial membership is costly ($100), then joining a lower priced new membership program ($10) is easier to justify mentally. Hence, it is not surprising that respondents in this study were more willing to join Restaurant B's membership program when they had paid a $100 for the initial membership. To gain a deeper understanding of the role of membership fees in influencing customer choice processes, we examined feelings of regret associated with their initial choices. The study findings indicate that membership fee structure influences regret. As expected, subjects felt uniformly high levels of regret when they had paid a $100 dollars to join a restaurant membership. Yet, when the membership fee was low (i.e. $10), then competition influenced the amount of regret. When the competitor was portrayed as having the same level of service quality, then regret was higher when Restaurant B offered a free membership as opposed to a $10 membership fee condition. These results suggest that competition plays a major role in generating negative emotions such as regret. In sum, our findings suggest that if the restaurant offers competitive services, membership programs might positively influence customer choices and deter consumers from joining competitor's membership programs. In other words, membership marketing might reinforce “commitment,” which Mattila (2001) emphasized as one of the main ingredients in successful relationship building. Yet, as Hausfater (2005) asserted, membership programs alone are not sufficient to ensure repeat patronage. Providing consistently high service is the backbone for a successful membership marketing program. Over promising or exaggerating membership benefits should be avoided as such efforts will certainly result in more regrets and dissatisfaction of customers.