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Consumer Behaviour. KFC and Subway Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: May 15th, 2022


KFC and Subway are the services under analysis in this paper. They are both restaurant chains located throughout the world. KFC sells fast food while Subway focuses on healthy, natural food. These two food services provide a unique platform for illustrating how well being and happiness affect consumer choices.

Values and differences in values between the way the two services are promoted

When one looks at a KFC poster or advertisement, one is likely to notice a piece of fried chicken that looks appetising and enticing. Subway, on the other hand, is likely to have images of fresh vegetables, fruits and other similar foods. Therefore, one food service promotes itself as the delicious option while the other one sells itself as a healthy and fresh option. At Subway, clients can get access to calorific information of their products while this is not always available at KFC. The firm also prides itself in the certification it has obtained from health bodies like the American Heart Association.

Subway offers a rich customer experience and the promise of a long term relationship with its clients. For instance, when one visits the restaurant, one can get access to free lunch for a friend, as a good will gesture. This service offering denotes values of friendship and dependability. In order to build this image of health, Subway has participated in a series of corporate social responsibility efforts that reflect its values. For instance, it has worked with the UK Heart Research Centre in order to improve health across the country. Additionally, it has pledged to minimise salt and trans-fat consumption in the country. In this regard, health is a number one priority for the company both as a sales strategy as well as a corporate social responsibility programme. Subway also exudes values of comfort when one visits their location. Staff members are friendly and will pay attention to a client’s need. Customisation is yet another quality one can find in the restaurant franchise. One has a series of options that one can choose from when ordering a meal. For instance, one can select the kind of wrap or salad one wants. Options on length, extras, sauce and veggies are also available. Transparency is also a key value sold by the organisation as clients tend to trust an organisation that shows them how it makes their meals. Ethics is a value that is synonymous to Subway as it sources its suppliers responsibly. Even environmental conservation is a selling point as few animal products are sold there.

Conversely, KFC does not focus on these values. The company emphasises job provision, through franchise ownerships, as its key social responsibility contribution. Several people also visit KFC because they need fast and convenient food. The company prides itself in the speed of response as well as ease of reach. Since KFC has thousands of outlets in the UK and US, customers can conveniently access them for food purchases. A person who visits KFC is also likely to go there for the low prices. Since the organisation uses economies of scale and simple methods to create its products, it is able to charge less for its products. Pocket friendliness is one of the key values carried forward in the company’s promotional strategies. Standardisation is a key trait that exists in KFC services. Customers may approach the organisation with a certain product in mind, and they will always find it in the same form, size and taste as before. The company also markets itself as credible since it has been in business for a long time. Buyers who visit the restaurant usually come for the taste of the food and not its nutritional content. However, if one wants access to calorific information, one may access, albeit through some complicated processes.

Theoretical framework for the comparison

In order to understand how happiness and well being are associated with the promotional values of the two services, it is essential to look at a series of models and theories on happiness and consumption. One such tool is the happiness model which was proposed by Dr. Been-Shahar. He affirmed that four archetypes exist in the field of happiness and these include hedonisms, nihilism, happiness and rat racing. The rat racer and the nihilist represent key opposites of the spectrum. In the rat race quadrant, people are preoccupied with future needs. They sacrifice present happiness for future gains, and this leaves them perpetually unfulfilled. Conversely, nihilists have no feelings of happiness at all as they have given up on the pursuit of this goal. The happiness category represents the ideal archetype because these individuals have struck a balance between momentary pleasure and future rewards. Hedonism is characterized by momentary pursuit of pleasure. Such people only enjoy short-term events as they pay little attention to their future. The model can be applied to the values inherent in Subway’s and KFC’s offerings. Subway focuses on long term relationships with its clients, lasting health benefits of its food choices as well as environmental responsibility. Persons who belong to the happiness archetype are likely to resonate with their message. Rat race archetypes may also buy their food because they are preoccupied with the future. Conversely, KFC markets momentary pleasure as its key selling point. Individuals from the hedonic archetype are more likely to buy from them as they may not care about their future health or other environmental concerns associated with buying KFC’s food.

The affective forecasting theory is also an essential aspect of understanding how the two services affect people’s well being. In this school of thought, theorists explain how people estimate the hedonic effects of an activity in the future4. Dunn, Gilbert and Wilson affirm that most people fail to find happiness in things because they make wrong forecasts about how happy the purchase will make them. For a purchase to increase a persons’ well being, these adherents believe that one must purchase an experience and not a good. Subway would contribute to more happiness than KFC because it has a richer experience. In pursuit of happiness, one should use one’s money to benefit other individuals. Since Subway often refers to environmental conservation as one of its goals, then a Subway customer would have a great degree of happiness since their purchase has been used to benefit other people. The company uses its resources to do philanthropic work, so customers assist other individuals and are happier than KFC’s clients. In the affective forecasting theory, one should refrain from making large purchases and instead focus on small ones. It is likely that these two services score equally on the parameter as the food they offer is a small purchase. Buyers need to delay consumption in order to gain happiness from it. When people go to KFC, they get their meals quickly and directly; there is little room for delayed gratification. On the other hand, clients have to wait while their meals are prepared at Subway. As a result, they are likely to gain more happiness from KFC than Subway.

The hedonic product consumption model is also useful in this discussion. This is a model in which adherents attempt to explain how product purchases can lead to happiness. The authors Lyubomirsky et al. explain that predictors of well being include genetics, positive behaviour and one’s circumstances. Circumstantial factors and genetics only account for a small proportion of variance in happiness. However, positive behaviour accounts for a large percentage because it can be controlled and altered. When analysing the relationship between a product purchase and subjective well being, positive behaviours have the greatest effect on the ability of the product to make one happy. Therefore, when considering the services being offered by Subway and KFC, one would immediately assume that Subway holds greater promise than KFC because it is associated with more positive behaviours than the latter. However, a number of other parameters must come into play when examining this pattern of behaviour. It is possible for consumption to lead to happiness only if the product under consider leads to improvement of the life domain that is related to the product. A life domain is that aspect of life that people associate with satisfaction and significance. For instance, social life, leisure and health are domains. If a person buys a drink, he or she will find happiness from it if it improves the quality of his social life domain. On its own, it might not lead to much joy. In this regard, KFC consumers often visit the location in order to derive pleasure from the food. This has minimal implications on most key life domains. However, when they target the location in order to save on time, then they may enhance the quality of their work life domain. Conversely, Subway customers may acquire happiness from buying food from the restaurant because it contributes to the health domain, social life domain and leisure domain. Since services are friendly, then Subway is more suitable for socialisation and leisure than KFC, which is highly standardised. Additionally, consumers who have a highly subjective cognition, or are satisfied with the things they have, are likely to enjoy happiness from consumption. The demographics of clients who visit Subway and KFC are quite different. A value and lifestyle analysis of the shoppers reveals that most of them are value conscious. They can be categorised as strugglers or believers. The latter look for bargains and rarely change their habits while the former have minimal financial resources and seek sales. Subway consumers may be categorised as makers or people who focus on comfort and value. According to the hedonic consumption model, Subway buyers would be happier with consumption than KFC buyers because they are already happy with what they have. The strugglers mostly purchase KFC products because they have to.

Hofstede’s model of national culture is also an essential component of the relationship between consumption at the two food chains and happiness. Hofstede came up with five dimensions of culture that correspond to one’s national background. These dimensions include long term orientation, power distance, collectivism, uncertainty avoidance and masculinity or femininity index. Mooij and Hofstede found that most cultures with high uncertainty avoidance tend to develop a passive attitude towards health. Cultures with high uncertainty avoidance rely on rules and structure to minimise uncertainty in various situations. Many of them do not do as much exercise as much as persons from low uncertainty avoidance cultures. High uncertainty avoidance cultures also care less about the purity of their food or its relation to their health. Conversely people in low uncertainty avoidance cultures will engage in sports and choose healthier options than the former group. These cultural preferences determine how people derive satisfaction from their purchases. Therefore, Subway would not perform well in high uncertainty avoidance cultures since their key message of health would not resonate with them. Conversely KFC would be more effective in these cultures because its selling point – delicious meals – is almost a universal trait. Countries with a long term orientation are more likely to save than their counterparts with a short term orientation. This means that they will look for bargains and value for their money whenever they purchase their commodities. Once their expectations are met by service and product sellers, then they will experience greater happiness. On the basis of the above assertion, KFC would have a greater capacity to create happiness than Subway in long term cultures as it would give them more opportunities to save.

The hedonic treadmill is a critical school of thought in the area of consumption and well being. In this theory, proponents argue that when individuals adapt to consumption they do not experience an increase in happiness even after increasing the amount of consumption. The human mind is such that it responds negatively to adaptation. This explains why some people may spend so much time admiring expensive jewellery but when they finally have the money to buy them, the purchase no longer gives them pleasure. Purchases may make a person happy in the short term but adaptation minimises contentment. When comparing Subway and KFC in their service offerings, it is evident that one of them has a higher capacity for adaptation than the other. Subway customises its food while KFC offers standard products. This means that buyers are more likely to adapt to KFC’s meals than Subway, so their well being is more likely to be comprised. This assertion also ties in with the fact that KFC products come in larger quantities than Subway’s. Since they are prepared in ways that encourage more eating, it is likely that a KFC customer would exhibit greater consumption than a Subway customer. As a result, the hedonic treadmill would take shape more pronouncedly at KFC than Subway. To support these assertions, some scholars have studied happiness indices in several nations. 19 They have found that countries, like the US and Japan, have recorded unprecedented economic growth and higher consumption over the past century but these values do not correspond to an increase in happiness. It is likely that this inverse relation stems from the Diderot effect. The principle holds that consumption perpetuates even more purchases. People become defined by the purchase of more goods until they fall into debt. The material culture in many western nations leads to unhappiness when financial frustrations arise. It is essential to weigh how both services relate to the material culture that causes dissatisfaction when comparing both Subway’s and KFC’s offerings. KFC is a more accurate representation of material culture than Subway because it emphasises quantity over quality.

Impulse buying theories also allow one to determine how a service can cause greater or less well being. A substantial amount of shoppers often impulse buy because they loose control. This means that their purchases occur during negative circumstances. Furthermore, impulse buying often leads to unwanted and negative consequences. Approximately 60% of female shoppers who buy things impulsively will feel guilty or regret. Therefore, impulse buying minimises happiness especially when done frequently. Subway and KFC have different ways of causing impulsive behaviour, and this may explain whether they cause happiness or not. KFC has often been criticised for preparing food in a way that leads to greater addiction and impulsive behaviour. High amounts of trans-fats and sugars perpetuate impulsion as the body has minimal resistance against it. Customers who buy meals on impulse would experience more guilt and thus less well being. The reverse is true for Subway in terms of its meals. Nonetheless, in-store atmosphere leads to impulse purchases, and this could induce some Subway clients.25 However, the addictive impact of KFC’s food is much stronger than KFC’s in-store atmosphere.

Recommendations and conclusion

From the theoretical framework it is evident that Subway causes greater happiness to its consumers than KFC. However, both organisations can make changes that will improve their promotional strategies. For instance, KFC should stick to the hedonic archetype when marketing. KFC should also increase its philanthropic work in order to meet its clients’ need to care for others. It should also consider customising its food and reducing quantities in order to delay gratification. The company ought to be friendlier in order to increase satisfaction in the social-life domain. Subway ought to employ more visual stimulation to entice impulse buyers. The latter firm should not emphasise the health message in high uncertainty avoidance cultures.


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