Indian foodways in Christchurch - a study of Indian restaurants
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Commerce
The aim of this thesis is to understand Indian restaurants‟ perception of authenticity and related attributes in its servicescape and menu elements that influence customer satisfaction. Existing studies have underlined the significance of perceived authenticity and related attributes in influencing customer satisfaction in an ethnic restaurant scenario. The academic literature offers relatively low insight into the managerial perceptions of authenticity and related attributes in ethnic restaurants. Besides, a limited number of studies have analyzed Indian cuisine in a hospitality backdrop. No specific research on Indian restaurants has been previously carried out in New Zealand, given the prevalence of the long history of Indian community in the country. On the other hand, research on ethnic restaurants has been quite one dimensional as it tends to only cover the consumers‟ perceptions of the restaurant attributes in order to deliver appropriate marketing strategies to the restaurant management. The ethnic restaurant perceptions of authenticity have been seldom explored. This study tries to fill the identified gap by garnering Indian restaurants‟ perception of authenticity in terms of the Indian cuisine, along with the significance of restaurant attributes and menu in exhibiting the authentic traits of the Indian restaurants.
The existing literature provides three approaches to define the concept of authenticity: objectivist, constructivist and post-modern approaches. Perceived authenticity is observed to be a significant factor that is linked with ethnic restaurants and related servicescape attributes. Besides, the concept of authenticity is studied to be vital factor in influencing customer satisfaction in ethnic restaurants. The concept of ethnicity and role of ethnic restaurants is explored to derive the significance of ethnic foods in representing a particular culture in immigrant countries. The present literature also provides various models of servicescape framework that depict the prevalence of individual servicescape elements in influencing customer satisfaction in a service environment.
This research project was carried out on Indian restaurants in Christchurch, the third largest city in New Zealand. A mixed method approach was utilized in order to attain the objectives of this study. The restaurant menu and servicescape elements of ten Indian restaurants were studied. The restaurants were selected based on their ratings on Zomato. Menu analysis was carried out to identify elements of the Indian restaurant menu that exhibit authentic traits and to determine the frequency of the dishes. Additionally, servicescape analysis was performed to identify the distinctive and similar elements in the Indian restaurant scenario using the servicescape framework identified in the literature. Besides, semi-structured interviews of the Indian restaurant managers were carried out to understand their perceptions of authenticity, menu design and servicescape attributes. This component was also performed to supplement the findings of the menu and servicescape analysis. Observation and content analysis was deployed to interpret the data collected to achieve the results of this research project.
The findings of this study are segregated into three sections respectively based on the research component. Menu and servicescape analysis reveal the distinctive elements included in the Indian restaurant menu and servicescape that possess the ability to influence customer satisfaction. The analysis of semi-structured interviews further reveals managerial views regarding the main elements of Indian cuisine, how local customers perceive authenticity of Indian food, elements involved in menu selection and design along with the role of distinctive servicescape elements in influencing customer satisfaction. This runs parallel with the existing literature and results derived in the menu and servicescape analysis.
The current study acts as a pathway to carry out further research in the Indian restaurant scenario in New Zealand from both managerial and customers‟ perspectives. Since New Zealand thrives on multiculturism, it is recommended to carry out similar studies across ethnic restaurants representing different cultures. The limitations of this study are duly acknowledged. Besides, the potential contribution of this study is noted down to derive managerial implications and further amplify the existing literature.