A Decision Support System for Consumer Behavior of Chinese In-bound Tourists on Functional Beverage: An Empirical Study during COVID-19 with Thailand Sandbox
Keywords:Functional beverage, Decision support system, Structural Equation Modeling (SEM), Consumer behavior, Hospitality industry
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all business owners to maintain their businesses and find ways to cope with the uncertainty. The functional beverage market has shifted its focus to consumers’ health value and wellness while its operators still lack knowledge to develop their products to serve customer needs, particularly to penetrate new customer groups, which are tourists. Therefore, the objective of this research is to investigate major influential factors of consumer behavior and create a decision support system (DSS) of consumer behavior (CB) on functional beverage. Samples are 378 Chinese tourists who visited Thailand in 2019 before the COVID-19 outbreak. The structural equation modeling (SEM) was employed to analyze the data while the sensitivity analysis was to test model robustness. The results showed that motivation, reference group, and knowledge have indirectly influenced CB (buying behavior, brand consciousness, health consciousness, and quality consciousness) through Marketing Mix (MM) while MM has a direct influence on CB. Moreover, sensitivity analysis expressed that either increasing or decreasing place and decreasing knowledge can influence CB factors. These results confirmed that consumers in the new normal market were interested in brands, quality, and health; therefore, brand consciousness/brand creation was a crucial challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the industry as they needed to improve product quality and be informative in terms of products’ health benefits. Hence, SMEs had to develop the product serving customer needs, gaining competitive advantages, and boosting up the economic cycle of the whole tourism supply chain from Thailand’s sandbox project. The value of DSS can help entrepreneurs decide to produce beverage to meet Chinese tourists’ satisfaction and to save cost for product development. It is an applicable tool for entrepreneurs, chiefly SMEs, to penetrate a new tourism market and choose a new suitable product that serves consumer needs in terms of tastes, brand awareness, and health benefits in the post-pandemic era.
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