Consumers in a group seek variety when ordering food, drinks

September 23rd, 2009 - 4:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Sep 23 (IANS) Consumers tend to seek variety in ordering foods and drinks when in a group, then gravitate toward similar choices, reveals a study.
“Our study shows empirically that consumers are susceptible to both conformist and variety-seeking tendencies,” write study authors Pascale Quester (University of Adelaide) and Alexandre Steyer (Sorbonne-Assas, Paris).

“They like to differentiate themselves from a growing minority or an overwhelming majority, but tend to conform in between.”

The authors conducted a study on candy bars in a lab, and then moved on to a real-life setting of a restaurant called Flam’s in Paris.

They sought out a situation where a drink was included in a package (Flam’s Plus) that included an appetiser, a main course, and a dessert.

“We decided that consumers’ choice of pre-meal drinks within a Flam’s Plus order would provide the best and most reliable context for determining whether and how individuals’ choices were influenced by other’s choices, in a condition when individual orders would be made public by the order process,” write the study authors.

They analyzed the data from 70 tables with two or more patrons where everyone ordered the Flam’s Plus. The tables ranged from two to 18 customers.

The results showed people sought variety as long as others’ choice of the same item did not achieve a threshold level of group unanimity, says an Adelaide release.

“However, when others’ choice of an alternative reaches 30 percent or so, variety seeking weakens,” the authors explain.

These findings appeared in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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