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Cultural Influences On Eating Out Habits In The Uk

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Society today has become accustomed to dining out. It has become a large part of British culture according to a survey carried out by Mintel entitled вЂ?Evening Eating Habits in the UK’ (2005). Dining out at ethnically themed restaurants and takeaways has increased in recent years due to many different economic, social, and cultural forces. These forces vary from the presence of a more affluent society with higher expendable incomes to the increased ability to travel to exotic far away places around the world creating a consumer want for recreation in the UK of their holiday experiences which include dining out. The report also highlighted the fact that 75% of the eating out market is dominated by those eating out in the evening which equates to Ð'Ј20.7 billion a year. This market is one that can not be ignored by those within the hospitality industry and those businesses that already experiment with exotic foods will gain the opportunity to experiment further with their menus, using higher priced ingredients to increase profit margins. Although there are many possibilities available as the trend widens it is suggested by the author that a trend alone cannot allow for increased business. Higher profit margins for more expensive ingredients will mean that the consumer will start to expect more from the restaurant or takeaway in question. Such qualities as ambience, service, food standards, variety of menu, and recreation of an experience the consumer may have had whilst on holiday may also come into the equation.

Large brands such as YOsushi! are cashing in on the market trends by serving a variety of sushi dishes in a fun and friendly way. Japanese food such as sushi is often deemed as a much healthier option to over take in popularity other ethnically themed cuisine such as indian and chinese dishes (Martin, 2007). Sushi is based primarily around raw fish, rice, and vegetables (YOsushi! 2007) and therefore the author suggests that due to a more multicultural society in the UK this has lead to different ideals being set for healthier eating however it is noted by the author that although the ingredients used to make the western ideal of sushi are deemed as healthy the preparation and cooking methods may not result in an end product that is altogether free of those things seen as unhealthy due to the inauthenticity of production . Although large companies such as YOsushi! are succeeding in a very competitive business environment, how will such a shift in eating habits affect the smaller local businesses? According to Mintel (2002) one of the main reasons smaller businesses within the ethnically themed cuisine market are suffering lower profit margins is due to the lack of branded outlets, but the author suggests that this could be due to other issues such as the recent healthy eating trend which has caused many consumers to re-evaluate the content of the takeaway food that they consume therefore choosing healthier options instead.

This essay will attempt to identify the reasons why a consumer will choose to dine out over eating at home, and then their reasons for choosing one hospitality venue over another. This should help to understand the growing market for ethnically themed restaurants and takeaways. The contributing economical, social, and cultural factors of increased consumption of ethnic cuisine will be explored further making suggestions to the hospitality manager on how to understand their target market therefore aiding a more profitable business.

It is important for any business to understand a consumers’ motivation to buy or use a service “A motive is an internal energy giving force that directs a persons activities towards satisfying a need or achieving a goal” Dibb et al (2001, pg. 121). Before a consumer enters any hospitality venue there may be many different factors that have affected their motivation to choose that particular restaurant or takeaway over another. It may be such basic factors as location, price, and the service they are provided with once inside the establishment, choosing on this basis is known as вЂ?patronage motives’. For an ethnically themed restaurant or takeaway to make the most of these motives they should be aware they are around them and attempt to emphasize said factors within their personalized marketing mix. It is suggested by the author that this can be achieved with simple marketing ploys such as 2 course lunch menus, or a drink and a main course at a set price.. By strategically placing the offers where the consumer will see them is more likely to attract them to try the service that is provided, and possibly provide return custom when the special offers are not available and they will choose from the full price menu instead. It is suggested by the author that this form of marketing can be applied anthropologically as the consumer will not only judge the food outlet based on the price but also on how that price fits in with the image of the food product and its connection to the time and culture it represents. A good example of strategic marketing for ethnic food is that of вЂ?China Town’ in London, many of the restaurants offer all you can eat buffets at low prices, and set menus that will attract many types of customers from those people wanting a quick lunch away from the office to tourists who have been attracted by the hearsay and theme of such a place (Anon, 2007). 60,000 Chinese people of diverse origins live in London there is a large network of Chinese schools and charity based community centres that offer support so that a sense of cultural identity can be passed down from one generation to the next. This sense of cultural identity may be passed down for several reasons, Auge (1995) suggests that there is some sense of fantasy where as the environment they live in was founded a long time ago expressing a group identity that they feel should at all times be defended from external and internal threats and not forgotten through the generations. Although вЂ?China Town’ is now seen by the local council as a tourist attraction (Anon, 2007), it was originally a safe haven for the many migrants coming to the UK in the 1960’s, many of the british soldiers that returned from war in the Far East having enjoyed Chinese cuisine founded a new loyal customer base for the cuisine in the UK and this is how that particular area of London became known as вЂ?China Town’ (BBC. 2007) Although China Town is now a tourist attraction it should be noted that it is also a meeting place for many Chinese people who feel a sense of community and cultural identity. Unfortunately since Westminster council started a multi million pound re-development of the area this has seen the closure of many of the smaller authentic chinese restaurants in favor of



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