Linking consumer characteristics to word-of-mouth-related behaviors and referral intentions in restaurants

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This research aims at describing and validating differences in word-of-mouth-related (WOM) behaviors and referral intentions according to consumers’ characteristics; demographic (gender/age), socio-economic (education), and consumption patterns (frequency of outdoor dining/restaurant type preferences). Thus, restaurant operators can better target their opinion leaders, and maximize WOM marketing potential. 221 valid questionnaires were collected from restaurant customers, covering consumer characteristics and basic WOM-related behaviors. Results concerning basic WOM-related variables conformed logically to relevant previous studies. Females, teenagers and youth, and quick-service restaurant (QSR) diners were more WOM-dependent for their outdoor dining decisions. Meanwhile, males, matures and QSR customers have been more active referrers for unpleasant dining experiences. University students showed less response for WOM referrals concerning unpleasant experiences, while being the more active referrers for unpleasant meal and foodservice encounters. It was also noted that the less the frequency of outdoor dining, the more dependent are consumers on WOM referrals, and the more referring to unpleasant dining experiences. Most available WOM-related literature spots mainly on WOM-related issues, such as its popularity vs. other types of media, and referral intentions responding to pleasant or unpleasant dining experiences. Differently, the current study concludes by determining restaurants’ key opinion leaders; that is, most active WOM referrers and most WOM-sensitive segments, based on main consumer characteristics and behaviors. Thus, restaurant operators can better tailor and target their WOM-related marketing efforts.

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    • Table 1. Basic WOM-related behaviors and referral intentions
    • Table 2. Associating WOM-related behaviors to consumers’ characteristics
    • Table 3. Associating WOM referral intentions to consumers’ characteristics
    • Table 4. Associating WOM referral intentions to consumers’ characteristics