The hospitality industry is ranked amongst the world’s largest economic sectors. The sector account for more than 10 per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides employment to a significant proportion of the total world’s population.
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The industry is composed of firms that deal with different activities such as provision of products and services such as beverages, food, and accommodation. Some of the businesses that constitute the hospitality industry include hotels, restaurants, clubs, bars, and contract catering.
The industry is broad in nature in that it entails both public and private firms. The global hospitality industry has experienced a myriad of challenges over the past few years. Some of these challenges include labour shortages, increased competition, and cost containment difficulties (Bowie & Buttle, 2001).
The high rate of globalisation is one of the factors that explain the changes currently being experienced in the industry (Reid & Bojanic, 2010). Despite its profitability potential, the industry is characterised by extreme volatility. The recent global financial crisis has pushed most hospitality firms into significant decline in their occupancy ration.
In an effort to augment their competitive advantage, firms in the hospitality industry are considering integrating different marketing management practices (Belch & Belch, 2001). Brand management is one of the most marketing management practices that have become prevalent in the hospitality industry.
Despite its effectiveness in determining the consumers’ purchasing trends, celebrity endorsement is costly. Additionally, immense social capital is associated with the issue of celebrity. Consequently, product endorsement by celebrities is critical to success of a firm (Smith, 2007).
However, endorsement of products by celebrities can sometime be a bad idea if the contracted celebrity negatively influences the consumers’ perception of the brand they are endorsing.
Findings of a recent study conducted by the CU-Boulder’s Leeds School of Business revealed that there is a high probability of the celebrities’ negative perception by consumers being transferred to the product or service compared to the positive attributes (Hudson, 2003).
In conducting this study, the researcher will adopt a conceptual framework based on the impact of the food TV program celebrities on the hospitality industry. The study is based on the premise that consumers’ decision-making processes and their behaviours are influenced by the marketing strategies adopted by organisations.
According to Belch and Belch (2001), marketing within the hospitality industry is a very challenging task to undertake because in most cases it entails marketing of a service. In their marketing process, most hospitality firms conduct advertising through various mediums such as television.
However, the effectiveness of the advertising strategy in influencing consumers’ behaviour is dependent on how the advertising is undertaken. Most hospitality firms have adopted the concept of endorsement by renowned food celebrities.
Most consumers consider celebrities as public figures and role models. Consequently, celebrities’ actions have significant impact on the lifestyle and behaviour of a significant proportion of consumers.
Due to contracting food celebrities, there is a high probability of hospitality firms influencing the consumers’ action and hence their perception towards their products and firm. In a bid to ensure effectiveness in influencing consumers, hospitality firms should select renowned and reputable food celebrities.
Research issue / Hypothesis
The purpose of this research is to find out the impact that TV Food Programs have on the hospitality industry. It will look at which celebrities are popular, whether people eat out more due to watching these TV programs, and whether people have been inspired to cook these meals at home. The researcher also evaluates the most favourite food celebrity according to the respondents’ opinion.
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It also evaluates whether consumers visit restaurants based on their favourite celebrities and whether they would like to visit their celebrity’s restaurant again. The research also analyses the extent to which consumers find food programs appealing. The study also assesses whether the TV Programs help consumers in their cooking habits.
Brand management has become an important consideration by firms in different economic sectors over the past few decades. The current growth in the concept of brand management in organisations has arisen from the fact that brand image has a significant impact on firms’ competitiveness hence profitability. Previous studies conducted indicate that brand image enhances the level of customer loyalty.
Brand image is one of the factors that influence consumers in their purchasing process. Brand image is composed of a number of elements amongst them being the set of beliefs that consumers hold regarding the firm and its products (Freeman, 2003).
Development of brand image is an intricate process that is composed of developing unique product or service image in the consumer’s minds. The need to promote brand image has led to development of various marketing management practices.
One of the marketing management practices that have been incorporated by hospitality firms is celebrity marketing. Hospitality celebrity marketing is concerned with creating awareness regarding a particular hospitality establishment.
By virtue of being public figures, celebrities have a significant impact on a firm and its brand. Encouraging celebrities to consume hospitality products and services is beneficial for it gives the involved firm sufficient media coverage. As a result, this element is a very effective method of creating market awareness compared to conventional marketing communication methods (Shimp, 2003).
When launching the Virgin Atlantic Airways, Richard Branson incorporated public relations in its marketing campaign. The firm’s management team contracted numerous rock stars musicians who flew in its airline to improve the effectiveness of the public relations campaign.
The Ski Resorts located at Whistler Canada have nurtured a strong public reputation because of hosting high profiled music and film stars such as Seal, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Kevin Costner. In 1998, the Ski Resort’s reputation improved significantly when it hosted Prince Charles, Prince Harry, and Prince William.
This understanding illustrates that celebrities play an important role in promoting the reputation of firms in the hospitality industry.
In the modern hospitality marketing environment, celebrities have become known as ‘ubiquitous’ features. Approximately, 20 per cent of companies in the world have incorporated celebrities in their marketing management practices. Hospitality firms that have incorporated celebrities in marketing their products stand out as trustworthy and credible institutions.
Endorsement of products and services by celebrities has been a common phenomenon in the hospitality industry for decades. The junk food and fast food companies in the United States are some of the firms that have incorporated celebrities in an effort to promote their brands.
In an effort to ensure that its product penetrates the market, the manufacturer of “Wheaties” formulated a marketing strategy whereby the product would be marketed as a “Breakfast of Champion”. The firm contracted renowned sports celebrities to endorse its product and thus influence consumers. The outcomes were very positive thus making such associations to become a common phenomenon ever since.
Majority of fast food companies have contracted numerous celebrities to endorse their products. For example, McDonald’s, a renowned fast food company in the US, enlists services of Michael Jordan, Donald Trump, Venus Williams, Kobe Bryant, and Serena Williams.
McDonalds contracted Cindy Klassen, who is one of the most adorned Olympians in Canada, to eat an Egg McMuffin (one of its fast products) in a television commercial in a bid to influence its consumers. Jason Alexander, a renowned actor, has been contracted severally by Kentucky Fried Chicken to endorse its food products (Smith, 2007).
After winning the 2008 Super Bowl in New York, Eli Manning entered into a contract to participate in television commercials aimed at promoting Oreo cookies. Celebrity endorsement is very effective in generating sales because a large number of consumers recognise the celebrity’s face, voice, and name.
Currently, consumers are increasingly becoming health conscious in their consumption patterns. Therefore, in a bid to influence the consumers’ decision-making process, it is imperative for the celebrity’s message to stand out as a legitimate source of knowledge. A food celebrity who has sufficient knowledge regarding the product s/he is endorsing is likely to influence consumers in their purchasing patterns.
The celebrity’s trustworthiness
The selected food celebrity should portray a high degree of honesty and integrity amongst the consumers. Selecting a dishonest celebrity can have a negative impact on a firm’s product because their message to the target audience will be questionable despite the credibility of the firm being high.
The success of every study is dependent on the effectiveness of the research design incorporated. Research design refers to the framework that the researcher uses in collecting data from the field to help him or her analyse a particular phenomenon (Creswell, 2003). The objective of integrating research design is to create a logical flow and ensure that the findings of a particular study are appropriate.
Additionally, research design contributes towards the creation of a high degree of accuracy in a particular study. This study aims at establishing the link between firms in the hospitality industry and food celebrities and to achieve this objective, qualitative and quantitative research designs will be integrated.
Qualitative research design will make it possible for the researcher to undertake an in-depth appraisal of the subject matter. Decision to adopt qualitative research design is due to the fact that most of the data that the researcher will collect from the field is qualitative in nature.
Additionally, qualitative research design will provide a higher opportunity for the researcher to expand the scope of the research questions by enquiring additional information from the respondents. Quantitative research design will give the researcher an opportunity to quantify findings of the study.
Researchers should ensure that the data collected is relevant to the market in a bid to increase the credibility of a research study. Various methods of data collection can be integrated. These methods include primary and secondary methods. The study will incorporate primary and secondary methods of data collection.
In collecting data from the market, the researcher will use both questionnaires and interviews. The researcher will use self-administered type of questionnaires, which will provide an opportunity to ask leading questions thus accessing the required answers. The researcher will use open and close-ended questionnaires to give the respondents an opportunity to answer the questions freely.
The researcher will code the data collected to improve the ease of data analysis. Data coding will provide the researcher with an opportunity to integrate different data analysis tools such as Microsoft Excel and the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS), and Microsoft Excel (MS Excel).
Integration of data analysis tools such as SPSS will make it possible for the two data analysis tools to understand the data collected. Through Microsoft Excel, the researcher will be capable of using bar graphs showing the consumers’ preference with regard to food celebrities and TV program. This argument is well illustrated by the graph below.
|Favorite Cooking TV show|
|My kitchen rules||4|
|Ready Steady Cook||1|
|Antony Boundain’s A cooks Tour||0|
Figure 1: Graph showing consumer response with regard to favourite TV show Sampling and sample size
The target population for this research is composed of friends and family who are Facebook users. Target population will provide an opportunity for the researcher to collect the right information from the market. The researcher will use sampling technique to select the research sample.
Sampling will be incorporated because it is difficult to conduct a study on the total population in the market; moreover, it is difficult to conduct a research study on the entire population because of time and resource constraints. A sample population is the total number of objects in a study, which have the same and independent potential of being selected as the actual sample (Longnecker, 2008).
The convenience sampling method was used of which 40 responses were collected. Decision to select 40 respondents was reached due to the existence of time and resource constraints. Additionally, it was assumed that the responses received with regard to food TV programs from the respondents selected were representative of the prevailing consumer opinions.
Out of the 40 responses collected, 82.5per cent were in the age category of 21 – 29 year old (see Appendix 1), which is consistent with the average age of friends of the research team. On the other hand, 12.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent or respondents were aged 30-39 years and above 40 years respectively. There were no respondents aged between 18-20 years, while those below 18 years constituted 2.5 per cent of the total number of respondents.
Most respondents interviewed (55.3 per cent) cited “Masterchef” as their favourite cooking TV program while 21.1 per cent of the respondents cited “Iron Chef” as their most preferred cooking TV show. On the other hand, 10.5 per cent of the respondents cited “My Kitchen Rules” and “Jamie Kitchen” as their favourite programs. On the other hand, 2.6 per cent of the respondents cited “Ready Steady Cook” as their favourite program (see appendix 2).
With regard to frequency of cooking, 57.5 per cent of the respondents said that they cooked between 1 to 3 days every week, while 35 per cent said that their frequency of cooking ranged between 4 to 6 days per week. Only 2.5 per cent and 5 per cent of the respondents said that they cooked every day or did not cook respectively (see appendix 3).
The respondent’s opinion varied with regard to favourite food celebrity. Jamie Oliver was cited by 41 per cent of the respondents as the most favourite celebrity, while 33.3 per cent of the respondents preferred Gordon Ramsay (appendix 4). Most of the respondents interviewed (67.5 per cent) said that they had ever tried to follow the cooking method shown on the TV program while 32.5% had not (appendix 5).
Most of the respondents interviewed (77.5 per cent) had never visited a restaurant of their favourite celebrity (appendix 6). However, a significant proportion of the respondents (63.6 per cent) were of the opinion that they would appreciate such an opportunity (appendix 7). With regard to their interesting characteristic, the respondents’ opinion varied from very uninteresting to very interesting.
Most respondents found TV food cooking programs interesting, while a few found the programs very uninteresting (appendix 8). Most respondents (60 per cent) found the food TV programs beneficial with regard to improving their cooking skills, while only 40 per cent did not consider the programs beneficial (appendix 9).
The study made it evident that Food TV programs and food celebrities have diverse impact on individuals’ response towards the hospitality industry in addition to their cooking habits (appendix 10).
The literature review conducted reveals that there is a strong positive relationship between the hospitality firms and food celebrities. The success of hospitality firms in using food celebrities in their marketing management practices is greatly dependent on the personality of the celebrity selected.
When selecting the celebrity to endorse their food products, hospitality firms should consider integrating characteristics such as the celebrities’ level of expertise, honesty, trustworthiness, attractiveness, and credibility.
Conclusion and implications
Perhaps further study should also focus on the characteristics of celebrity chef. Similar to food TV celebrities, celebrity chefs have a significant influence on consumers’ perception towards hospitality firms. Most consumers prefer consuming quality and delicious food products.
On the other hand, celebrity chefs are known for their expertise in preparing such food products. As a result, celebrity chefs can help hospitality firms increase their customer base because most consumers would like to consume food prepared by such celebrities.
Belch, GE & MA Belch, Advertising and promotion: An integrated marketing communication perspective, Irwin, Boston, 2001.
Bowie, DA & FA Buttle, Hospitality marketing, Routledge, Chicago, 2001.
Creswell, JA, Research design: qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches, Sage Publishers, Newbury Park, 2003.
Freeman, EM, Blackwell handbook in strategic management, Wiley-Blackwell, Washington DC, 2003.
Hudson, SA, Tourism and hospitality marketing: a global perspective, Sage, New York, 2003.
Longnecker, ME, An introduction to statistical methods and data analysis, Cengage Learning, New York, 2008.
Maxwell, JA, Qualitative research design: an interactive approach, Sage Publishers, Newbury, 2004.
Reid, RD & DC, Bojanic, Hospitality marketing management, Wiley Publishers, New York, 2010.
Shimp, TA, Advertising, promotion and supplemental aspects of integrated marketing communication, The Dryden Press, Boston, 2003.
Smith, FA, Fast food and junk food: An encyclopedia of what we love to eat, ABC-CLIO, New York, 2007.