Original Research

Exploring divergent aspects of middle-of-the-pyramid consumers’ dining experience

Elna H. Kleinhans, Carina Kleynhans, Cornelius H. van Heerden
Acta Commercii | Vol 19, No 1 | a641 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v19i1.641 | © 2019 Elna H. Kleinhans, Carina Kleynhans, Cornelius H. van Heerden | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 April 2018 | Published: 09 September 2019

About the author(s)

Elna H. Kleinhans, Department of Hospitality Management, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa
Carina Kleynhans, Department of Hospitality Management, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa
Cornelius H. van Heerden, Faculty of Management Sciences, Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria, South Africa


Orientation: This study seeks to identify the most important dimensions related to restaurant dining among middle-of-the-pyramid consumers.

Research purpose: This article aims to determine the expectations of South African middle-of-the-pyramid (MOP) consumers during a dining experience.

Motivation for the study: To develop an up-market segmentation framework that will assist restaurateurs to reposition themselves to better understand the needs of MOP consumers.

Research design, approach and method: Both qualitative and quantitative methods were followed. The sample in the study consisted of 18 interviewees and 363 respondents selected from full-service restaurants in Gauteng Province. Exploratory factor analysis with varimax rotation was used to analyse the dining experience dimension items, and confirmatory factor analysis was performed to achieve the objective of the study. Qualitative data was analysed using a constant comparative method. Confirmed themes and patterns were determined by the frequency with which each was mentioned for similarities, differences and general patterns.

Main findings: The results show that on a six-point Likert scale, the commonality between the various dining experience dimensions was relatively high, ranging from 0.377 to 0.768. The dining experience dimension items yielded eight factors that were interpretable. The coefficient alpha varied between 0.69 and 0.92 for all eight dining experience dimensions. The eight underlying dimensions (service, social, food, layout, restaurant health, atmosphere, food health and accessibility) are independent variables that influence MOP consumers in their choice with respect to dining out, but each dining experience dimension has a particular level of importance.

Practical/managerial implications: The findings of this research have implications for the restaurant industry. Restaurateurs targeting this MOP customer segment should do so by using a unique marketing mix that applies the eight dimensions identified in this study to this segment’s dining experience.

Contribution/value-add: This article offers the South African restaurant service sector increased insight into the South African MOP market segment’s dining behaviour, and proposes and confirms the implications for their expected dining experience dimensions.


dining behaviour; dining experience dimensions; restaurant expectations; middle-of-the-pyramid consumers; South Africa


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