Copycat Fast Casual Restaurants: Consumer Response of Dublin Professionals 25 - 39

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Brewer, Audrey
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DBS Library Press
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The fast casual market in Ireland is growing at a rate three times that of other restaurant categories. It is especially popular with young professionals aged 25-39, representing more than one third of their food spend. Many Dublin restaurateurs have taken this opportunity to capitalise on the success of existing restaurant brands and open “copycat” eateries within the capital. These restaurants appropriate concepts, menus and trade dress from leader brands outside Ireland, often to commercial success. By using a mixed quantitative and qualitative approach, this research aims to explore Irish consumer perception and patronage of five Dublin copycat restaurants and negotiate the results of this with consumers’ evaluation of authenticity. Two hundred and twenty-seven questionnaire responses were evaluated and phenomenologically assessed through in-depth interviews to try to explain the socioeconomic and cultural factors of these results. Findings indicate a generally positive acceptance towards copycatting in Ireland, while still evaluating the “original” restaurant as better in most categories. In this context, a moderate similarity approach appears to work best when the leader brand is not present. Respondents did not have an overall negative view of copycats, and even fewer reported a desire to stop visiting such restaurants once informed about them. Interviews investigated the regulatory, economic and cultural underpinnings for this, suggesting consumer response is dictated by contextual factors that are unique to the Irish commercial landscape.