Purpose: Past research showed that overly positive attitudes and intentions towards fast food contribute to obesity. In the face of rising childhood obesity, the purpose of this paper is to explore attitudinal and behavioral reasons behind adolescents' suboptimal food choices. It tests hypotheses about differences between teenagers and adults in customer attitudes and intentions regarding fast food restaurants. Design/methodology/approach: The hypotheses are tested with German survey data and moderated regression analysis. Findings: Teenagers do not underestimate the negative effects of fast food. However, their decision making fails to incorporate existing knowledge on competitive advantages and gives greater weight to customer satisfaction compared with adults. Behavioral differences between teenage and adult consumers result from differences in cognitive development rather than social pressure. Research limitations/implications: As this study uses subjective consumer data from Germany, future research could validate the conclusions with objective behavioral data from various countries. Practical implications: Of importance to fast food restaurant managers, the primary determinants of customer attitudes and intentions are food quality, the public brand image, social recognition, and perceived competitive advantages. By contrast, service quality and perceived value are less influential. Satisfying teenage customers is more important than informing them about competitive advantages. Social implications: The results imply that fast food-related childhood obesity may be caused by lack of rationality rather than peer pressure or lack of knowledge. Originality/value: As an original contribution, the paper compares adolescents' and adults' decision making regarding fast food restaurants and captures the regularly overlooked influences of the public brand image, social recognition, and perceived competitive advantages.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Strategy and Management