How Image Congruity and Satisfaction Impact Customer Retention at Luxury Restaurants: A Moderated Mediation Framework

By Han, Heesup; Kim, Wansoo et al. | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, June 2018 | Go to article overview

How Image Congruity and Satisfaction Impact Customer Retention at Luxury Restaurants: A Moderated Mediation Framework


Han, Heesup, Kim, Wansoo, Lee, Sanghyeop, Kim, Hye-Ran, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal


The popularity of luxury restaurants has grown rapidly over the last three decades (Hyun & Kang, 2014). An increasing number of people visit luxury restaurants in order to partake in pleasurable dining experiences, high-quality meals, and prestigious service (Walker & Lundberg, 2005). A luxury restaurant indicates a restaurant operation (e.g., French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese) where managers and employees are eager to provide impeccable service standards (e.g., exceptional full-table service), the food is prepared by highly paid chefs using ingredients of excellent quality and presentation, and the attributes of the physical environment (decor, lighting, ambience, furniture, glasses, and silverware) are superior to, and the average price of dining is higher than, that of most regular restaurants (Hwang & Hyun, 2013; Kwon & Han, 2014). This type of restaurant is also often located within a luxury hotel complex. Particularly in South Korea, most luxury hotels include diverse forms of luxury restaurant (French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese).

Nevertheless, as an increasing number of luxury restaurants have been opened because of the popularity of the luxury dining experience, the competition has recently become fierce in the luxury restaurant marketplace (Hwang & Hyun, 2013). Given this market situation, customer retention is one of the major issues and challenges for every restaurant proprietor or operator. Uncovering factors that lead to customer retention and identifying clearly the role of such factors is of utmost importance for the proprietor/operator in that these factors could be directly related to the survival and success of a luxury restaurant.

In previous studies, researchers have taken diverse perspectives to comprehend the customer retention process clearly (Han, Hwang, & Lee, 2018; Han & Hyun, 2013; Hwang & Hyun, 2013; Kang, Tang, & Lee, 2015). Researchers have often utilized concepts such as image congruity, customer satisfaction, and conspicuousness as key concepts in luxury product/service consumption. In particular, Kang et al. (2015) showed that image congruity significantly contributes to enhancing customer satisfaction and increasing customer retention rate. Hwang and Hyun (2013) indicated that satisfaction plays a crucial role in boosting customers' repeat patronage. However, despite the criticality of these concepts, to date little research has been conducted to examine the effect of these constructs simultaneously in the luxury restaurant industry. In addition, conspicuousness of product consumption is a significant factor in explicating the customer retention process, as this variable is of a moderating nature, particularly in regard to consumption of a luxury product (Han & Hyun, 2013). Nonetheless, we found it surprising that research in which the moderating role of the conspicuousness of consumption of the luxury restaurant product has been investigated was rare.

Image Congruity

It has been shown that incorporating image congruity into a decision-making framework and identifying the specific role of this cognitive factor provides a deeper understanding of customers' intention/loyalty formation and postpurchase behaviors (Back & Lee, 2009; Graeff, 1997; Jamal & Goode, 2001; Kang et al., 2015; Sirgy et al., 1997; Sirgy & Samli, 1985). Matching of product image and a patron's self-image is described as image congruity, that is, image congruity is a cognitive comparison between an image of a product/service and its user's self-image (Jamal & Goode, 2001; Sirgy, 1985). The terms self-image and self-concept are often used interchangeably (Back, 2005; Jamal & Goode, 2001; Sirgy et al., 1997). Customers who perceive that their image matches well with a product image tend to be more satisfied with the product (Jamal & Goode, 2001) and to show a stronger likelihood to repurchase the product than do those without this perception (Back, 2005; Sirgy & Samli, 1985). …

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