Throughout the past decades, the priorities of the business management have undergone critical changes. Thus, it is now evident that one of the key determinants of a successful performance is the customer’s positive perception of a company’s image or the so-called “brand’ (O’Guinn et al. 2014).
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According to experts’ opinion, a brand is one of the most significant elements of a restaurant’s promotion campaign (Schulz 2012). One of the most efficacious tools of promoting a brand today is mass media that has a powerful influence on shaping people’s vision of the social realm. Therefore, the management must evaluate adequately the impact that social media has on customers’ perception of a restaurant’s brand. Numerous studies prove that a productive approach to this problem helps restaurants achieve their aims and improve their general performance (Needles & Thompson 2013). In other words, restaurants’ management can use mass media in order to promote their brand in case it understands the mechanisms of this interconnection.
The report at hand is aimed at proposing research on the impact that mass media has on forming customers’ perception of a restaurant brand. It is assumed that as soon as the mechanisms of this interconnection are identified, restaurants’ management will receive a consistent guideline for an effective promotion strategy.
It is suggested that the problem should be examined evidence from one of the most successful players in the relevant market, Burger King. Thus, the advanced hypothesis might be posed as follows: the mass media has a strong impact on the customers’ perception of the restaurants’ image and, thus, on their willingness to use its services. It is critical to note that it is not only the positive impact (achieved mainly by the management’s efforts in its rapport with the mass media) but the negative influence as well that will be examined in the framework of this report.
The proposed research aims to evaluate the impact that mass media has on the customers’ perception of a restaurant image as exemplified by Burger King’s case.
As a result, the following objectives are set:
- perform a detailed examination of the research and studies related to the issue;
- develop an understanding of the key mechanisms of the interconnection between mass media and social perception of a restaurant’s brand and evaluate the specific issues related to this interconnection;
- conduct research involving Burger King’s customers to define the impact of the mass media;
- analyze the obtained results and develop a guideline that can help restaurants promote their brand efficiently through mass media.
It is assumed that the problem under discussion is particularly acute now that a restaurant’s image has a powerful impact on its general performance. Thus, the obtained findings, as well as the generated recommendations, are expected to assist restaurant managers to advance their brands more efficiently.
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The following questions need to be addressed in order to accomplish the set objectives:
- How does mass media influence customers’ perception of a restaurant’s image?
- How does customers’ perception of a restaurant’s image impact the restaurant’s performance?
- What are the key mechanisms of this influence?
- How can a restaurant’s management use mass media to promote the restaurant’s brand?
- How does Burger King use mass media to create a positive perception of their image in customers?
To carry out a valid and consistent research, it is essential to rely on a scientific base (Fink 2010). The quality of the sources selected for the research’s framework is likely to have a significant influence on the studies relevance and validity. Therefore, it is suggested to focus on the scientific literature and peer-reviewed articles and avoid using secondary sources in this analysis.
It is necessary to note that the problem of mass media influencing and shaping customers’ vision of a company’s brand is widely discussed in modern literature. Therefore, the key aim of this literature review is to summarize the existing sources, evaluate the available data and its relevance to the core subject of the proposed research, indicate the main gaps that this study can fill and make the current research framework more concise.
As long as the scope of the literature is very large, it is suggested to analyze it in three dimensions: theoretical material, practical studies, and case studies.
General Marketing Theories
There is currently a wide scope of literature that elucidates the impact that mass media has over clients’ perception of a company’s brand in general. Every marketing textbook has a chapter devoted to the product promotion or advertising. From this perspective, it is not problematic to study the basic principles of influence that mass media has in terms of shaping customers’ vision. The most common approach to addressing this problem is analyzing this impact as the one provoked by the effort of a company’s management. In other words, it is most typical to treat mass media as the “direct marketing media” tool, along with mail, telemarketing and interactive media (Percy, Rosenbaum-Elliott & Elliott 2012). This interpretation might serve as a basic guideline for a better understanding of the proposed research questions.
Meanwhile, this approach has some critical drawbacks. First and foremost, it examines the impact of mass media on the brand promotion for every business without distinguishing the restaurant type. However, restaurant management has its own specificity that should be essentially taken into account while analyzing research findings and drawing the relevant conclusions.
Secondly, this approach mainly focuses on mass media as a promotion tool without studying its independent effect. Thus, for instance, a few years ago there was a large scandal around the ingredients that Burger King uses in its food (King & Buckley 2013). The scandal initially appeared in social media, though later on, mass media thought it necessary to elucidate it. In such a manner, the newspaper The “Guardian” hurt the customers’ perception of the restaurant’s image even though it did not try to accuse the company of the low-quality production but just retold the news from the social media. Therefore, it is critical to think about the types of effects that mass media produces.
A fine exception in this context is Hasan’s detailed work International Marketing Planning – An Analysis of Burger King. Even though the book also focuses on the promotional impact or the intentional influence of mass media on customers’ perception of a restaurant’s image, it is more close to the subject of the proposed research than other theoretical materials. Thus, the author analyzes Burger King’s efficient strategy of using mass media for shaping the vision of their brand (Hasan 2013). This information can be highly important while working out the research’s recommendations.
Another type of literature proposed for using in the framework of this research is scientific studies. Unlike utterly theoretical textbooks, this type of sources provide some statistical evidence and point out the most critical trends associated with the proposed problem. From this perspective, a problem arises concerning the interpretation of the “mass media” term. The point is that numerous studies examine the impact of social media on customers’ vision of a brand. Thus, for instance, Resti and Purwanegara (2012) offer innovative research that studies the psychological impact that clients experience while viewing the images of food on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
In the meantime, the question arises whether these types of media refer to the mass media segment. On the one hand, some researchers do not stick to a strict distinction between social and mass media. Hennig-Thurau et al. (2010, p.311), for instance, classify social networks as “the new type of mass media”. It is essential to note that this approach is rather popular in new theoretical literature – many specialists assume that social media is an integral part of mass media (Galician 2013).
On the other hand, a more classic approach implies considering social media as a separate media unit (Hackley 2010). In order to provide a concise framework for the proposed research, it is considered reasonable to accept the second approach. In other words, the examination of the mass media impact would refer to such sources as press, radio, television, and websites but would not refer to the personal communication in social networks.
Moreover, apart from examining the studies of the impact that mass media have on consumers’ perception of a brand, it would be useful to examine the role of mass media in shaping consumers’ behavior. Hence, for instance, Kasmi (2012) offers an explicit examination of the factors that have the most significant impact on consumer behavior in terms of mass media. This data is critical for the proposed research as it helps to understand the principal mechanisms of the examined interconnections better and apply this knowledge to the improvement of the restaurant’s performance through mass media.
From this perspective, there are few discrepancies in scientific opinions regarding the power of mass media’s impact on consumer behavior. The scientific community became interested in this question a long time ago, and most of the research that has been carried out since then show that TV and press’s advertisement play an important role in shaping consumer’s desire to buy this or that product (Hirschman & Thompson 2013).
A more in-depth analysis shows that it is not only the advertisement that might impact consumers’ decision making but any food-related information that appears in mass media. Recent research, for instance, has proved that the mass media’s apply to buy healthy food or to refuse to eat particular products might also impact consumer behavior (Freisling, Haas & Elmadfa 2009). Hence, in a broader sense, customers’ perception of a restaurant’s image might be, likewise, shaped by any food-related information provided by mass media.
The principal gap that currently exists in the scope of the scientific studies available is the lack of research that would examine the multi-faceted impact of the mass media on customers’ vision of a restaurant’s image. Otherwise stated, most of the studies, as well as the theoretical literature, put a particular emphasis on the promotional function of the mass media’s impact on consumers’ attitudes. Those studies that address the problem more complexly do not distinguish the restaurant business but examine the media’s impact on all types of companies. From this perspective, the proposed research is likely to fill the existing gap.
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The last type of the sources that should be necessarily used in the proposed research is case studies. It is assumed reasonable to focus on the Burger King’s case studies in order to examine some particular approaches that the company implements in terms of using mass media as a promotional tool. Thus, for instance, Lacorte (2007) provides a detailed case study of the company’s promotion strategy. The key benefit of this analysis resides in the elucidation of both the positive and negative sides of the mass media’s impact. Meanwhile, as well as in the previous two cases, the study mainly focuses on the advertising character of mass media, whereas its other functions in shaping consumers’ perception of the brand are neglected.
The analysis of the available case studies has also opened new perspectives for the proposed research. Thence, Kissane’s case study examines the customers’ perception of Burger King’s image in France. The author points out that the company took into account regional peculiarities while using mass media for brand promotion (Kissane 2015). Kissane’s analysis is not the only one that addresses the problem in terms of regional peculiarities.
Thus, in their case study, a group of Indian researchers Batra, Myers, and Aaker (2013) show how Burger King collaborated with the local channels in their country in order to create an attractive company’s image. As a result, it might be proposed that further research can also put a particular emphasis on the examination of the mass media’s impact on consumers’ vision in different countries. In the meantime, the key flaw of these two case studies is that they focus on the tools that the company used in terms of promotion and overlook the independent effect that mass media has over consumers’ perceptions in their countries.
The key themes of this study are the mechanisms of mass media influencing customers’ perception of a restaurant image; hence, the following conceptual framework has been designed.
Basing on the analysis of the relevant literature, a series of conclusions might be drawn out. First and foremost, it is essential to note that the literature proves that mass media has an impact on clients’ perception of a restaurant’s image. In the meantime, the problem of restaurant management is not widely elucidated in the scientific literature. There is currently little information regarding the brand promotion tools that would be described exclusively in the framework of restaurant management. Thus, the major part of the overviewed literature is devoted to either business management in general or the management of a group of business activities of a similar type: restaurants, hotels, etc.
In terms of the mass media’s impact on customers’ perception of a restaurant’s image, a critical information gap can be pointed out. Hence, most of the sources elucidate this problem, from the standpoint of promotion activity only. In other words, they neglect the other side of the impact – the independent influence that mass media produces through providing particular information on a company, food in general and other related topics. The indicated gap provides evidence for the thematic justification as no identical study has been carried out so far. As a result, it is expected that the proposed research will fill the existing gap and contribute largely to the development of scientific knowledge about restaurant management.
Moreover, the literature review has also helped to point out some subjects for further examination. Hence, as long as the proposed research is carried out and the set objectives are accomplished, it is considered reasonable to perform another study examining the associated problems. For instance, potential researchers might try to use the obtained findings and continue the work to define the differences in the mass media’s impact on consumers’ perceptions in different countries. The literature review showed that this problem has not been properly addressed so far which signifies there is another information gap in the relevant framework.
While selecting the philosophical approach, it is critical to take into account the examined subject and the field it relates to (Leavy 2014). According to experts’ opinion, a realistic approach is often used for conducting business-related studies and research. Thus, Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill (2009, p.115) point out that the realistic approach is often employed while examining such factors as job satisfaction, motivation rate, etc.
Moreover, it is important to note that as long as the relevant approach implies two different types – direct and critical – the latter seems to be more appropriate in the framework of the proposed study. Therefore, based on the core principles of this type of approach, the proposed research will try to address the problem as an objective reality that can be impacted in a positive way. As a consequence, the key aim, in the framework of this approach, will reside in working out an effective strategy that can bring in some favorable changes to the existing set of things.
In addition, it is essential to note that choosing this approach makes it easier to decide on the methodology framework. Hence, according to specialists’ opinion, critical realists normally use qualitative methods in the course of carrying out their studies (Saunders, Lewis & Thornhill 2009).
First and foremost, it is critical to note that the proposed research is expected to be of an analytical type. As long as the proposed subject has already been studied to a certain extent, it is suggested that this research should focus on defining the principal mechanisms of the described phenomenon.
Also, as has been already mentioned above, it is proposed that the research has a qualitative design. In other words, it will mainly focus on the examination of the attitudes and perceptions rather than on the quantitative statistics. As well as the major part of the qualitative studies the proposed research is likely to be of the deductive character so that it bases on the initially foregrounded hypothesis that resides in the assumption that mass media has a powerful impact, both positive and negative, on consumers’ perception of a restaurant’s brand. However, this hypothesis is rather general, and it is expected that the research findings will help to formulate a more precise and detailed explanation of the examined phenomenon.
Lastly, as long as the analysis of the stated problem requires receiving accurate data, it is suggested that the research has a survey structure. It is expected that this type of structure will help to avoid potential ambiguity in the participants’ responses as the tools this structure uses imply less possibility for vague answers contrary to those in the exploratory type. Moreover, experts point out that a survey structure is particularly appropriate for examining business-related issues (Engel et al. 2014). In addition, it is expected that this method will be less time-consuming than an interview.
Data Collection and Analysis
In accordance with the selected research structure, it is suggested that a survey is employed as the principal data collection tool. From this perspective, the key concern is to define the size of the sampling group. Thus, to minimize the so-called “margin of error”, it is proposed to survey 200 Burger King’s customers. In this case, even if some of the participants fail to respond, 186 survey responses will be sufficient to assure valid and reliable data analysis (Emmel 2013).
The distribution of the surveys can be carried out via e-mail and social networks with the due agreement of potential respondents. As long as there is no strict framework for the type of customers, it is proposed to use the non-probability as the sampling population is not identified (Daniel 2011).
In terms of the data analysis, it is suggested to employ the summarizing method. Thus, the obtained results will be summarized with the help of the histogram that is highly convenient from the standpoint of the concise data presentation. It is also assumed that this type of data presentation will be convenient for interpreting by potential viewers.
In order to research the framework of the relevant ethical standards, it is proposed that all the data analysis is performed independently on the personal attitude and subjective implications. Moreover, it is suggested that all the potential participants initially provide their official agreement to take part in the study and do not object to the fact that their responses will be used and interpreted by the researcher. It is likewise, critical that all the participants receive a guarantee assuring that their responses will not be handed over to the second parties and will be used for scientific purposes only (Paul 2010).
In order to ensure the security of the collected data, it is proposed that the researcher pays due attention to the storage of the collected materials. Otherwise stated, it is essential to see to the fact that the collected data cannot be freely accessed by other people.
Reliability and Validity
In order to maintain the consistent level of the research’s reliability and validity, it is proposed to avoid the most common mistakes and risk factors. First and foremost, it is assumed critical to consider the risk of the so-called “subject error.” Thus, it is important to assure that the respondents are placed in relatively equal conditions so that their answers are not significantly corrupted by the external causes.
Secondly, it is essential to take into account the fact that the respondents are likely to provide untruthful answers in case the question is posed misleadingly. Therefore, it is important to see to the fact that all the survey’s questions are formulated in such a manner that the risk of the respondent bias is minimal. Furthermore, the information analysis must be performed as objectively as possible so that its results are maximally close to those that another researcher would receive under the same conditions.
Besides, it is essential to assure the relevant level of validity by avoiding potential ambiguity: unclearly posed research questions, ambiguous interpretation of the problem’s background, subjective attitude to different respondents, the shift to the examination of related problems in the course of carrying out the research, the wrong approach to determining the causal-effect relations, etc (Baumgarten 2013).
Lastly, it is vital to ensure that the research findings do not depend on the particular environmental settings. In other words, the researcher is supposed to guarantee equal findings in any context.
The following time chart represents a rough guideline for carrying out the proposed research.
|Background Analysis||5 days||Mon 11.04.16||Mon 18.04.16|
|Survey Preparation||5 days||Mon 11.04.16||Mon 18.04.16|
|Data Collection||3 days||Mon 11.04.16||Thu 14.04.16|
|Data Analysis||5 days||Mon 11.04.16||Mon 18.04.16|
|Conclusions and Recommendations||7 days||Mon 11.04.16||Wed 20.04.16|
The proposed research is aimed at examining the interconnection between mass media and customers’ perception of a restaurant’s image. The review of the relevant literature showed that there is currently a considerable information gap in the relevant field. Thus, no studies have yet been carried out that would elucidate the problem. As a result, it is expected that the proposed research will fill in the existing gap.
The proposed research design is a qualitative study, and the main tool for data collection is a survey. The approximate size of the targeted population is 200 people. The timeline of the proposed research is planned for a period of two months so that researchers might give every stage due consideration. The key aim of the proposed research resides in providing consistent recommendations for restaurant managers that will assist them in improving the general business’s performance.
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