Korea Tourism Research Association

Current issue

International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research - Vol. 31 , No. 10

[ Article ]
International Journal of Tourism and Hospitality Research - Vol. 31, No. 10, pp.59-72
ISSN: 1738-3005 (Print)
Print publication date 31 Oct 2017
Received 07 Aug 2017 Revised 25 Aug 2017 Accepted 04 Sep 2017
DOI: https://doi.org/10.21298/IJTHR.2017.10.31.10.59

The effect of food quality on behavioral intention in Korean restaurants
: From the perspective of Chinese tourists
Min-Jung Nam* ; Changsup Shim** ; Chul Jeong
*Lecturer, School of Tourism, Hanyang Unversity, Seoul 04763, Republic of Korea (mjnam@hanyang.ac.kr)
**Assistant Professor, Department of Tourism Management, Gachon University, Seoul 13120, Republic of Korea (cshim@gachon.ac.kr)

Correspondence to : Associate Professor, School of Tourism, Hanyang University, e-mail: jeong72@hanyang.ac.kr


Abstract

This study aimed to analyze the relationship between food quality, perceived value, satisfaction, and behavioral intention of Chinese tourists in Korean restaurants. To achieve this objective, a survey was conducted with 350 Chinese tourists at Jeju International Airport, South Korea. The data were analyzed using exploratory factor analysis, second-order confirmatory factor analysis, and structural equation modeling. The results show that food quality, which consists of visual/olfactory impressions, ingredients, and palate/touch distinctions, directly and significantly influenced perceived value and satisfaction while it only indirectly influenced behavioral intentions via perceived value and satisfaction. Also, it is found that perceived value was most strongly influenced by food quality. The current findings imply that marketers of Korean restaurants should pay more attention to improving food quality, which increases perceived value and satisfaction and, in turn, can lead to revisits and recommendations.


Keywords: Chinese tourist, Food quality, Perceived value, Satisfaction, Behavioral intention, Second-order confirmatory factor analysis

Ⅰ. Introduction

In recent years, food has emerged as an essential part of travels, with the “gourmet tour” regarded as an important topic of research in both academia and industry (Rimmington & Yüksel, 1998). Countries such as Spain, France, and Hong Kong have long been popular destinations for culinary tours as local food there works as a strong “pull” factor (Hashimoto & Telfer, 2006; Horng & Tsai, 2012). The importance of food is also being realized in the tourism industry in Korea not only because culinary tourism is growing worldwide but also because travelers often report low satisfaction with the food quality in Korean restaurants (Korea Tourism Organization, 2013). The trend of tourism has evolved from seeing to experiencing, and tourists are becoming more demanding about local food; today they require higher quality, more variety, and the like (Hall & Sharpels, 2003), whereas, in the past, they passively visited the course and restaurants that had been already organized by the tour agency (KBS, 2011; Choongangilbo, 2011).

The number of Chinese tourists to South Korea is about 6 million in 2015, accounting for more than 40% of total foreign visitor arrivals in South Korea (KCTI, 2016), while the number has recently plummeted because of the dispute over the THAAD missile defense system. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the number of Chinese tourists to South Korea will be restored to its former level in the near future. Korea Tourism Organization (2017) shows that experiencing Korean food is one of the most common motivations of Chinese tourists to South Korea, while they are hardly satisfied with the food quality and taste at Korean restaurants. This implies that, while tourist interest in Korean food has increased, Korean restaurants may not be prepared to address this growing demand.

Despite such growing importance of the role of food in the tourism industry, food quality has not received sufficient attention in tourism studies compared to other variables. The studies that targeted tourists have addressed other factors, such as service quality, rather than food quality (Namkung & Jang, 2007). Moreover, a few studies that investigated food quality have not been explored from the perspectives of tourists (e.g., Ha & Jang, 2010; Namkung & Jang, 2007). The situation is not much different in a Korean restaurant setting. Of the several studies investigating menu quality of Korean restaurants, only a few studies have targeted foreign tourists, and these studies did not focus on food quality itself (e.g., Kim, 2005; Lee et al., 2005; Won et al., 2006; Yang et al., 2009).

Therefore, as a result of the growing significance of Chinese tourists and food in the tourism industry, it is crucial to understand in detail how Chinese tourists evaluate the food quality of Korean restaurants and how, in turn, this evaluation influences other variables. Thus, this study aims: 1) to explore the structure of food quality by second-order confirmatory factor analysis rather than using simple overall summary score, as food quality can be evaluated with diverse dimensions, such as taste and presentation, and 2) to examine how food quality influences perceived value, customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, behavioral intention toward Korean restaurants. Understanding these relationships is valuable for both local Korean restaurants and restaurants with a globalization plan as it helps to find a solution for Chinese tourists’ dissatisfaction with Korean restaurants.


II. Literature review
1. Food quality in Korean restaurants

Food plays an important role in tourism since food represents the destination, and consequently, identifies the culture and rejuvenates the economy of the destination (Hall & Sharpels, 2003). In addition, diverse studies demonstrate that the food experiences of tourists determine the overall satisfaction with the travel or the intention to revisit (Rimmington & Yüksel, 1998; Kivela and Crotts, 2006). Thus, many countries, including Spain, France, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Singapore, have actively used local food as a core resource for their tourism industries and have been popular destinations for food tours (Hashimoto & Telfer, 2006; Horng & Tsai, 2012).

Although a great deal of research has been conducted regarding menu quality or service quality, only a few of these studies have focused primarily on food quality and targeted foreign tourists. Yoo and Cho (2003) analyzed the visit of Korean restaurants by Chinese tourists and demonstrated that customers made different menu selections according to demographic status and satisfaction with hygiene, professional service, menu specialization, and so on. Lee et al. (2005) studied selection attributes for hotel restaurants by foreign tourists and found table service, quality of service, and specialization of the menu to be important. Won et al. (2006) studied the experiences of Chinese tourists and their perceptions of Korean food and quality of service using the IPA measurement system.

2. Food quality

A number of restaurant studies have investigated the effect of service quality rather than focusing on food quality. Service quality is considered a crucial factor in the hospitality area and is developed and applied in many ways to anticipate customer behavior. Parasuraman et al. (1988) suggested the SERVQUAL model that measures quality based on the gap between expectations and performance of five factors: reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy, and tangibles (Cronin & Tayler, 1992; Lee, 2007). However, service quality is insufficient to determine the overall quality of a restaurant because it does not contain factors related to the food. Food plays a significant role in the restaurant business by conveying the internal and external attributes of the restaurant and, ultimately, creating the image of the restaurant customers have visited, which consequently influences the whole process of restaurant management. Therefore, the management of food quality should be an integral part of a restaurant business in order to maximize customer satisfaction and increase revenue (Kim, 2005; Ko & Lee, 2011).

According to Molnar (1995), food quality begins with public health safety and monitoring of levels of microbial, parasitic, toxic, and radioactive contaminants and then involves factors related to sensory quality, such as appearance, smell, nutritive value (including chemical components and microbial components), and convenience (including shelf life and packaging). Gilmore et al. (1998) defined a high-quality food as one that does not contain any microbial contamination, has nutritional excellence, natural flavor, good taste, and a high degree of acceptability, and is appetizing. According to Ophouis and Trijp (1995), food quality is the consumer’s overall feeling about the consumed food, including both subjective and objective factors, and there exist two viewpoints: one that the evaluation of food quality is impossible because it is too subjective and the other that the quality is objective, and precise evaluation should be obtained. As the market paradigm has shifted to a consumer orientation, the measurement of food quality has moved from physical to psychological (Cardello, 1995). While a popular definition of food quality in the past was “the combination of attributes or characteristics of a product that have significance in determining the degree of acceptability of a product to a user” by Gould (1977), a more recent definition emphasizes the “perceived characteristics,” such as in Galvez and Resurreccion’s (1992) description, “the acceptance of the perceived characteristics of a product by consumers who are the regular users of the product category or those who comprise the target market.” Thus, current evaluations of food quality embrace the consumer’s psychological perception as well as objective aspects.

O’Hara et al. (1997) analyzed the relationship between menu quality, brand image, and customer satisfaction and defined menu quality as the food’s appearance, taste, temperature, portion, and the like. Ko and Lee (2011) examined how menu quality and brand image in the family restaurant sector influenced customer satisfaction and defined menu quality to include three factors: taste, variety, and health/hygiene. Kim (2005) researched menu quality evaluation factors specifically for Korean food and investigated the effects of Molnar’s (1995) four factors of food quality on a Korean menu with respect to how past experiences influence overall perceptions of menu quality including nutrition, sensory quality, and convenience. As such, food quality has been defined with several sub factors and examined with various constructs. Yang et al. (2009) examined Chinese tourists visiting Jeju Island and found that there were three clusters of Chinese tourists, each of which differently evaluated Korean food they experienced in Jeju Island.

Nonetheless, there is a lack of research that has examined the effect of food quality on perceived value. Ryu et al. (2012) investigated the effect of three elements, physical environment, food, and service, of Chinese restaurant quality dimensions and found that food quality had a significant effect on perceived value but service quality and physical environment did not. Joung, Choi, and Wang (2016) also found that perceived quality of campus food service significantly affected perceived value of customers. De Toni et al. (2017) also suggested that perceived food quality positively influenced perceived value on the consumption of organic products. Based on these previous studies, we propose the following hypothesis:

H1: The food quality of Korean restaurants will positively influence their perceived value.

Several previous studies show that food quality has a significant effect on satisfaction. Namkung and Jang (2007) found that overall food quality, which consists of presentation, variety, healthy options, taste, freshness, and temperature, had a significant impact on the satisfaction with the restaurant and, more specifically, presentation, taste, and temperature were significantly related to satisfaction. Further, Ko and Lee (2011) examined how menu quality and brand image in the family restaurant sector influenced customer satisfaction and concluded that the former had a significant effect.

In a Korean restaurant context, Min (2007) studied the menu quality of Korean restaurants located in the Cheon-ju area and concluded that the internal and external aspects of the food and service, such as taste, smell, quantity, temperature, color, hygiene, and service, should be continually improved to achieve customer satisfaction. Kim (2005) also found that the food quality of Korean restaurants had a significant influence on customer satisfaction. Min and Lee (2014) examined the effect of selection attribute of Korean restaurants in Australia and found that the menu factor, including diversity and uniqueness of the offering, had a strong and significant influence on satisfaction. Based on these studies, we propose the following hypothesis:

H2: Food quality will positively influence customer satisfaction with the restaurant.

Existing studies reveal that food quality is a direct and indirect predictor of behavioral intention. Targeting Japanese tourists, Lee et al. (2005) investigated satisfaction with the menu quality of Korean food, and the result showed that overall satisfaction with the menu quality significantly influenced the intention to revisit the country. Namkung and Jang (2007) found that overall food quality had a significant effect on behavioral intention, and, more specifically, presentation, healthy options, and taste attributes were significantly related to behavioral intention. Furthermore, Ha and Jang (2010) investigated ethnic restaurants and found that food quality had a direct effect on loyalty. In a Korean restaurant setting, Min and Lee (2014) examined the selection attributes of a Korean restaurant in Australia and found that the menu, service, and food had a significant influence on the intention to visit Korea. Based on these studies, we propose the following hypothesis:

H3: Food quality will positively influence behavioral intention.

3. Perceived value

Perceived value is an assessment of overall gain or loss formed by considering perceived worth and perceived sacrifice, such as the cost and time in the restaurant. A simple formulation of value is the benefit compared to the price (Zeithaml, 1996). Since value is maximized when high quality is provided for a practical price, customers are inclined to perceive a high value when the price is relatively low (Patti & Fisk, 1982). For the same product, evaluation of perceived value could vary among individuals depending on not only monetary factors, but also other factors, such as time, personal preference, symbolism, and perceived quality (Bolton & Drew, 1991).

The measurement of perceived value includes an overall evaluation, such as successful or unsuccessful, good or bad, and valuable or not valuable as well as an assessment of the relative benefits and costs. Perceived value plays a significant role in assessing service quality and determining customer satisfaction and other important outcomes, including repurchase intention (Lee, 2007; Oh, 2000; Zeithaml, 1996). Cronin et al. (2000) studied the relationship between service value, satisfaction, and behavioral intention by targeting various service industries, such as fast food, spectator sports, entertainment, and health care and found that service value influenced satisfaction and behavioral intention in all industries except for health care. Lee et al. (2007) investigated the relationships between perceived value, satisfaction, and recommendations for the Korean DMZ destination and found that perceived value influenced satisfaction and indirectly influenced recommendation.

The food service context has not been sufficiently studied to examine the relationship with perceived value. Ryu et al. (2012) found that the perceived value of a Chinese restaurant had a significant effect on customer satisfaction and behavioral intention mediated by satisfaction. Ha and Jang (2010) also showed that perceived value significantly influenced the behavioral intentions of customers in Korean restaurants. Hyun, Kim, and Lee (2011) suggested that chain restaurant patrons’ behavioral intention was increased if they perceived their experience in the restaurant valuable. Hence, we form the following hypotheses:

H4: Perceived value will positively influence customer satisfaction with the restaurant.

H5: Perceived value will positively influence behavioral intention.

4. Customer satisfaction and behavioral intention

Customer satisfaction is regarded as a core variable in marketing because it predicts customer behavior after experiencing a product or service and, consequently, its repurchase. The definition of this concept varies among researchers who are largely divided into two perspectives. One viewpoint is based on expectation discordance, a cognitive process of comparing the performance experienced with the performance expected before the purchase (Parasuraman et al., 1988). The other viewpoint is that evaluation is based on cumulative experience, including personal favorable or unfavorable evaluations, the customer’s behavior after experiencing products or services, and the overall evaluation of using them. From this perspective, overall satisfaction is an emotional state resulting from an emotional response to products or services (Baker & Crompton, 2000; Westbrook & Oliver, 1991). Therefore, the concept of satisfaction differs according to whether it is a cognitive process focused on the procedure or an emotional state emphasizing the result (Lee, 2007). Although there has been controversy regarding the preferred definition, the emotional result is currently considered the most crucial factor for determining satisfaction (Brady & Cronin, 2001). Therefore, in this study, we define satisfaction as the overall emotional evaluation after experiencing a product or service.

Behavioral intention is considered a core factor in customer relationship marketing, because it predicts the customer’s future behavior (Lee, 2007). Positive behavioral intentions include affirmative word of mouth, recommendations, intention to revisit with other people, and willingness to pay (Zeithaml et al., 1996), and these behavioral intentions are viewed as a step preceding actual purchase of products or services. In Aaker’s (1996) study, behavioral intentions resulting from high satisfaction included repeat purchase, positive word of mouth, decrease of price elasticity, and enhanced preference.

The relationship between satisfaction and behavioral intention has been already confirmed in diverse studies. In a restaurant context, Namkung and Jang (2007) found that satisfaction significantly influenced behavioral intention in midscale to upscale restaurants; Ryu et al. (2012) investigated Chinese restaurants and found that customer satisfaction had a significant impact on behavioral intention. In addition, Min (2010) investigated Italian hotel restaurants and found that customer satisfaction with the menu quality affected revisit intentions. Based on these studies, we propose the following hypothesis:

H6: Customer satisfaction will positively influence behavioral intention.

5. Conceptual model

Hence, the model of the current study is as shown in Figure 1, which establishes food quality as an antecedent influencing perceived value, customer satisfaction, and behavioral intention.


Figure 1. 
Conceptual model


Ⅲ. Methodology
1. Measurement

Measurement items were developed for the survey instrument on the basis of previous literature pertaining to food quality, perceived value, customer satisfaction, and behavioral intention. The questionnaire was created in Korean, then translated into Chinese by a Chinese researcher studying in Korea, and revised and finalized based on a collaboration between Chinese and Korean researchers in the tourism major.

The survey consisted of four parts that were used to examine the conceptual model: 14 items on food quality regarding Korean food, four items related to perceived value, three items related to customer satisfaction, and three items on behavioral intention toward the Korean restaurants. The concept of food quality was based on previous studies, such as Cardello (1995) and Molnar (1995), and the questions were from Yang et al. (2009) that reconstructed questions from previous literature for Korean food. Questions about food quality were regarding Korean food consumed in Korean restaurants, including the color, smell, flavor, temperature, freshness, nutrition, ease to eat, feeling of chewing, saltiness, menu variety, ease to select menu items, and quality of ingredients.

Questions about perceived value, customer satisfaction, and behavioral intention were based on Oh (2000), which restructured questions for restaurants based on previous studies, such as Zeithaml (1988), Westbrook and Oliver (1991), and Zeithaml et al. (1996). Questions about perceived value aimed to discover the value that a customer perceives compared to cost. Questions about customer satisfaction aimed to elicit overall satisfaction with the Korean restaurant experience. Questions about behavioral intention were about the likelihood of revisiting the restaurant and intention to recommend the restaurant. All items were measured on a five-point Likert scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. In addition, the demographic profile section had five items about gender, age, occupation, income, and residential area.

2. Data collection

This empirical research was performed at Jeju International Airport because Jeju Island is one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists. The survey questionnaires were distributed to Chinese tourists who were about to depart Korea after traveling to Jeju Island. A total of 400 questionnaires were distributed over six days. Chinese university students were employed to conduct the survey after being trained in the survey questionnaires and methods. The self-administered survey was performed to collect empirical data for this study. The surveyors invited Chinese tourists, who were waiting for departure in the waiting room, to participate in the survey and conducted the surveys one-on-one. The respondents were asked to answer questions recollecting the Korean restaurant they had visited recently.

A total of 350 surveys were collected, 39 of which were judged unusable due to unanswered items; consequently, a total of 311 surveys were then processed for further analysis, which resulted in a final response rate of 78.3%.

3. Data analysis

Demographic characteristics were investigated using descriptive analysis. Before testing the proposed research model, several statistical analyses, including descriptive analysis and exploratory factor analysis (EFA), were performed using the SPSS 12.0 program. In addition, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was performed to test the measurement model. Particularly, it is important to note that a second-order CFA analysis was performed for food quality construct to identify latent dimensions of food quality perceived by tourists and to concentrate on the role of food quality in the current research model. The relationships between food quality, perceived value, customer satisfaction, and positive behavioral intention were examined using structural equation modeling (SEM) with the LISREL program.


Ⅳ. Results
1. Profile of the respondents

As shown in Table 1, the proportions of male and female respondents were 40.2% and 59.8% respectively. Ages were in the range of 20-29 years (40.5%), 30-39 years (25.4%), 40-49 years (24.4%), and over 50 years (9.7%). Most respondents stayed for 4-5 days (90.6%), were visiting Korea for the first time (92.3%), and were traveling in a tour group (74.9%).

Table 1. 
Demographic characteristics of respondents
Characteristic Frequency Valid (%)
Age 20-29 126 40.5
30-39 79 25.4
40-49 76 24.4
Over 50 30 9.7
Gender Male 125 40.2
Female 186 59.8
Length of stay 3 days 11 3.4
4 days 108 34.7
5 days 174 56.9
Others 18 5.0
Purpose of visiting Sightseeing 267 85.9
Business 22 7.1
Others 22 7.0
Monthly income Below 2,000 81 26.0
2,000- 5,000 87 28.0
5,000-10,000 53 17.0
Over 10,000 17 5.5
No response 73 23.5
Note: The income unit is Chinese Yuan (元)

2. Exploratory factor analysis

An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) with Varimax rotation was performed. Through EFA, seven of these items, with factor loadings lower than .40 or higher than .40 on two factors, were removed (Hair et al., 2006). Thus, the questions about food quality were reduced from 14 to nine, and the questions about perceived value were reduced from four to three. The remaining 9 items were included in the five dimensions presented in Table 2.

Table 2. 
Results of the EFA
Constructs Questions Factor loading Communality α
F1 Visual/Olfactory - The color of the food is attractive. .823 .788 .796
- Food presentation is visually attractive. .791 .706
- The smell of the food is good. .730 .662
F2 Ingredients - Food served is nutritious. .805 .744 .768
- It is easy to eat. .758 .712
- Food served is fresh. .751 .686
F3 Palate/Touch - The seasoning of the food is appropriate. .875 .794 .757
- The restaurant offers a variety of menu items. .715 .654
- It is easy to chew. .658 .648
KMO=.844, Chi-square=1109.943, Sig=.000, total variance explained=71.06%

Table 3. 
Results of the CFA
Constructs Questions Factor loading t AVE CR
Food
quality
Visual
/Olfactory
- Food presentation is visually attractive. .83 - .68 .86
- The color of the food is attractive. .89 16.88
- The smell of the food is good. .73 14.02
Ingredients - Food served is fresh. .69 - .55 .78
- Food served is nutritious. .80 11.78
- It is easy to eat. .73 10.75
Palate
/Touch
- It is easy to chew. .79 - .52 .76
- The seasoning of the food is appropriate. .69 11.50
- The restaurant offers a variety of menu items. .66 10.95
Perceived value - Compared to the price, the restaurant’s product and service was good. .86 - .71 .88
- I feel I got my money's worth at the restaurant. .83 18.13
- The restaurant offered good value for the price. .84 18.44
Satisfaction - The restaurant delivers high satisfaction. .83 - .69 .87
- Overall, how satisfied are you with the restaurant? .86 17.47
- How do you feel about your experience at the restaurant? .81 16.14
Behavioral intention - The probability of your choosing the restaurant again is .88 - .78 .87
- The likelihood you would recommend the restaurant to others is .92 22.75
- How likely is it that you will be a regular customer of the restaurant? .84 19.43
Notes: AVE = Average variance extracted; CR = Composite reliability

3. Confirmatory factor analysis

The measurement model was examined as a prerequisite to the evaluation of the structural model. We used confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to examine the constructs of food quality, perceived value, satisfaction, and behavioral intention. All factor loadings were greater than the minimum cut-off of .5 (Hair et al., 2006).

Moreover, because all average variances extracted (AVE) and composite reliability values exceeded the minimum criteria of .5 and .7 respectively, the level of convergent validity was satisfied. Additionally, discriminant validity was confirmed because the AVE of each construct was larger than the squared correlation values (Table 4) (Hair et al., 2006). The overall model fit of the measurement model was acceptable because all values satisfied the criteria (χ² = 83.64, df = 24, normed χ² = 3.48, GFI = .94, PGFI = .50, CFI = .95, NFI = .93, RMSEA = .089); thus, it was confirmed that the measurement model is qualified as a prerequisite for the structural model.

Table 4. 
Results of correlation analysis
V SA RI FQ
Perceived value (PV) 1.00
Satisfaction (SA) .56 1.00
Revisit intention (RI) .45 .52 1.00
Food quality (MQ) .74 .52 .36 1.00
AVE .71 .69 .78 -
CR .88 .87 .91 -
Notes: AVE = Average variance extracted; CR = Composite reliability; AVE and CR are not necessary for food quality because food quality is an exogenous latent variable

Further, a second-order CFA analysis was performed for food quality construct, which included three sub-factors of visual/olfactory, ingredients, and palate/touch as shown in Figure 2. The model fit was acceptable because all values fulfilled the standards (χ² = 82.46, df = 24, normed χ² = 3.48, GFI=.94, PNFI=.62, RFI=.90, RMSEA=.089). The analysis result shows that ingredients (λ=.85) and palate/touch (λ=.85) have a stronger relationship with food quality than visual/olfactory (λ=.75).


Figure 2. 
Second-order CFA for food quality

4. Structural equation modeling

SEM was employed for examining the food quality model containing the six hypotheses that were developed based on previous studies. As shown in Table 5, the overall model fit of the structural model (χ² = 279.02, df =126, normed χ² = 2.21, GFI = .91, PGFI = .67, CFI = .96, NFI = .92, RMSEA = .064) was acceptable and, therefore, presented a reasonable explanation of the relationships between the constructs in the model.

Table 5. 
Model fit of the structural model
χ² df Normed S-B χ² GFI PGFI CFI NFI RMSEA
Structural model 279.02 126 2.21 .91 .67 .96 .92 .064
Suggested value - - ≤3.000 ≥.900 - ≥.900 ≥.900 ≤.080

The relationships between the constructs of interest in the structural model were examined using SEM and confirmed by the significant tests for the estimated coefficients (paths), which provided the basis for accepting or rejecting the proposed relationships among constructs. Figure 3 shows the standardized coefficients for the proposed model. The SEM results indicate that all the paths proposed in the model were significant and in the anticipated positive direction.


Figure 3. 
Results of structural equation modeling

Note: Dotted arrows indicate non-significant paths



5. Tests of hypotheses and discussion

The results of this study confirm the relationships between food quality, perceived value, customer satisfaction and positive behavioral intention. The SEM analysis showed that food quality had significant effects on perceived value (β= .86) and customer satisfaction (β=.29); perceived value (β =.32) and customer satisfaction (β=.52) significantly influenced behavioral intention. However, food quality did not directly influence behavioral intention. These results are consistent with those of previous studies (Kim, 2005; Kim et al., 2008; Ko & Lee, 2011; Lee, 2007; Lee et al., 2005; Min, 2010; ).

More specifically, as shown in Table 6, Hypothesis 1 was supported because food quality had a significant positive influence on perceived value (βfood→value=.86, t=14.44). This result is consistent with those of previous studies, such as Lee (2007) and Ryu et al. (2012). This relationship was the strongest path in the structural model with a path coefficient of .86, indicating that the higher Chinese tourists perceived food quality to be, the higher was their evaluation of the value of the Korean restaurant. Hypothesis 2 was also supported because food quality positively influenced satisfaction significantly (βfood→satisfaction =.29, t=2.09), which was consistent with previous studies, such as Lee (2007), Min (2010), and Ko and Lee (2011).

Table 6. 
Results of hypotheses testing
Path (Hypothesis) Standardized loading S.E. t value Results
Menu quality à Perceived value (H1) .86 .06 14.44 Support
Menu quality à Satisfaction (H2) .29 .14 2.09 Support
Menu quality à Revisit intention (H3) -.04 .14 -.30 Fail to support
Perceived value à Satisfaction (H4) .50 .14 3.63 Support
Perceived value à Revisit intention (H5) .32 .14 2.29 Support
Satisfaction à Revisit intention (H6) .52 .09 5.95 Support

Hypothesis 3 was not supported because food quality was not a direct significant predictor of behavioral intention (βfood→intention = -.04, t = -.30). This result indicates that even if Chinese tourists perceived high food quality for a Korean restaurant, they might not want to revisit or recommend the restaurant, and it is not consistent with previous studies, such as Namkung and Jang (2007), Ha and Jang (2010), or Min (2010). Although food quality did not significantly influence behavioral intention via a direct path, it showed an indirect effect when mediated by perceived value and customer satisfaction. The indirect effects on behavioral intention mediated by perceived value and customer satisfaction were .18 and .15 respectively, and the total effect of food quality on behavioral intention was .65.

Hypothesis 4 was supported because perceived value positively influenced customer satisfaction in a significant manner (βvalue→satisfaction = .50, t = 3.63). This result is consistent with previous studies, such as Lee (2007) and Oh (2000), indicating that the higher Chinese tourists perceived the value of a Korean restaurant to be, the more likely they were to be satisfied with their overall experience of the restaurant.

Hypothesis 5 was supported because perceived value had a significant positive influence on behavioral intention (βvalue→intention=.32, t = 2.29). This result is consistent with previous studies, such as Lee (2007) and Oh (2000), indicating that the higher Chinese tourists perceived the value of a Korean restaurant to be, the more likely they were to want to revisit or recommend it. Hypothesis 6 was supported because customer satisfaction had a significantly positive influence on behavioral intention (βsatisfaction→intention = .52, t = 5.95), indicating that the more Chinese tourists were satisfied with a Korean restaurant, the more likely they were to want to recommend or revisit it. Regarding behavioral intention, with a standardized coefficient weight of .52, customer satisfaction had the strongest effect among the examined constructs, whereas food quality did not have a direct effect. The combined effects of food quality, perceived value, and customer satisfaction on behavioral intention led to an explained variance (R²) of 56% in the structural model.


V. Conclusion and implications

This study investigated the relationships between food quality, perceived value, customer satisfaction, and behavioral intention regarding Korean restaurants using data obtained from Chinese tourists at Jeju International Airport. Although the constructs used in this study seem to have often appeared in previous studies, there are important differences between the present study and related previous studies. First, among the previous studies examining those constructs, only a limited few have been conducted from the viewpoint of foreign tourists. Although several studies, such as Lee et al. (2005) and Won et al. (2006), did investigate Korean restaurants from the perspective of foreign tourists, these studies did not examine the structural relationships between all the variables used in the present study. Moreover,

Second, this study investigated the effect of food quality in more detail compared to previous studies. Food quality has rarely been the focus of research targeting foreign tourists, even though food plays an essential role in tourism and food tourism has been receiving considerable attention: food quality has been overlooked even in food service studies in favor of service or atmosphere. Unlike previous studies that considered food quality as a sub-component of menu quality (e.g., Ko & Lee, 2011; Kim et al., 2008; Min, 2010), a noteworthy contribution of the present study is that it performed an in-depth analysis of food quality by applying second-order CFA. Only a few empirical studies have sought to examine the effect of food quality (Namkung & Jang, 2007), and most of these studies did not focus on food quality in detail using a simple first-order construct (e.g., Namkung & Jang, 2007; Kim, 2005; Lee et al., 2005; Won et al., 2006; Yang et al., 2009). The result of second-order CFA for food quality showed that the palate/touch factor and ingredients (λ=.83) showed higher loadings (λ=.88) as compared to the visual/olfactory (λ= .73); this indicates that palate/touch and ingredients are more important factors as compared to the visual/olfactory factor. It can be interpreted that taste and ingredients are more important in determining food quality than the presentation of the food.

The test results on our hypotheses reveal several important points. Food quality as an exogenous variable in the research model significantly influenced all the succeeding variables via direct or indirect paths. The relationship between food quality and perceived value showed the strongest impact (β=.86) in the structural model, indicating that higher food quality led to higher perceived value. This is consistent with Ryu et al. (2012) where, out of three dimensions of quality, only food quality showed a significant impact on perceived value. In addition, food quality in our study showed a significant effect on customer satisfaction (β=.50), which precedes behavioral intention. This result thus sheds light on why foreign tourist satisfaction with Korean restaurants has been reported to be low (Maeilkyungje, 2011). This implies that food quality clearly plays an important role in determining satisfaction and, consequently, leads to behavioral intention. The importance of food in Korean restaurants has been often demonstrated in previous studies, such as Lee et al. (2005) and Won et al. (2006).

An important finding from SEM is the mediating role of perceived value and satisfaction. Although food quality did not show a direct effect on behavioral intention, unlike the results of the studies by Namkung and Jang (2007) and Ha and Jang (2010), it had an indirect effect when mediated by perceived value and customer satisfaction. In particular, perceived value showed a direct effect on customer satisfaction (β=.50) and behavioral intention (β=.32). The findings suggest that perceived value plays a critical role in the model, as it served as a perfect mediator between food quality and behavioral intention. This indicates that Chinese tourists heavily depend on perceived value to evaluate overall satisfaction, while perceived value results from food quality. This significant effect of perceived value on satisfaction infers that cognition initiates an effect, as perceived value is a cognitive trade-off between quality and sacrifice (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Ryu et al., 2012). Thus, it is vital to increase perceived value rather than elevate food quality alone in order to increase customer satisfaction and, consequently, behavioral intention.

These results have implications for managers. First, it is vital to pay attention to food quality in menu offerings in order to elevate perceived value, satisfy Chinese tourists, and generate positive behavioral intention. More specifically, Korean restaurants that receive a number of Chinese tourists need to pay attention to ingredients and the taste of food, rather than focus on its presentation. Primarily, it will be required to research what kind of ingredients or tastes are preferred by Chinese people and to use favorable ingredients and flavors for the menu items that Chinese tourists often order. For example, Yon et al. (2010) suggests that Chinese tourists prefer spicy Korean food while Japanese tourists do not.

Second, it is important to consider how Chinese customers perceive higher value as having greater benefit than sacrifice, rather than looking into food quality separately. Marketers of Korean restaurants should devise strategies to elevate perceived value along with enhancing food quality. Value results from comparing perceived worth to perceived sacrifice, such as cost or time spent in the restaurant (Zeithaml, 1988). Thus, it is important for Chinese tourists to believe that Korean restaurants are well worth the money and time. Generally, overall value can be maximized when a high-quality product is provided for a reasonable price, because customers are inclined to perceive value when the price is relatively low (Patti & Fisk, 1982); however, because the condition may be different with foreign tourists, an effective strategy should be devised to gain their evaluations of what creates perceived value. As they are tourists, time is generally more critical than cost, and it would, thus, be important to serve food quickly. Further, the particular values that Chinese tourists look for in restaurants should be explored taking into account cultural differences.

This study is not free from limitations. The current study does not examine behavioral intention to revisit Korea. Since many researchers have recently explored culinary tourism in many countries including Korea, it would be helpful to empirically investigate the relationship between food quality and the intention to visit the country as this would provide valuable data for the tourism industry as well as restaurants. Additionally, because the survey was performed at the Jeju International Airport, the Korean restaurants that respondents experienced were limited to the Jeju area; therefore, future studies should be expanded to nationwide sampling for generalization purposes.


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