This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Eye-tracking study: Do intrinsic and extrinsic cue words of locally grown food menu items associate with consumers’ visual attention and menu item choice at hyper-local restaurants?




Conoly, Yoonah

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management

Restriction Status


Restriction Type


Date Available



Consumers’ interest in locally grown food is growing. However, there has been limited research exploring how certain cue words on menus could be eye-catching and correlate to consumers’ food selection decision. Therefore, this research examined whether intrinsic (fresh) and extrinsic (local) cue words of locally grown food menu items associate with consumers’ visual attention (TFD and FC) and menu choice of hyper-local restaurants’ menus. Furthermore, consumers’ visual attention (TFD and FC) to the cue words fresh and local menu items are compared by demographic characteristics (gender, age, and income). The study further investigated how the demographic characteristics of consumers influence visual attention to the intrinsic and extrinsic cue words fresh and local on locally grown food menu items. A total of 50 participants partook in this study which involved an eye-tracking experiment, followed by an online Qualtrics survey. For the eye-tracking experiment, Total Fixation Durations (TFDs) and Fixation Counts (FCs) were collected to measure how long consumers’ attention lasted on the cue words on a restaurant menu randomly assigned to them. The online survey collected participants’ familiarity, attitudes, and purchasing behavior related to locally grown food, as well as reasons behind their menu choice. The findings of this study showed that the participants associated local and hyper local with the words fresh, organic, healthy, support, and community. The results indicated that there was a relationship between FC on the extrinsic cue word local and subsequent menu choice. It appeared that the participants who chose the menu item with the word local looked at it more often than other words before making their final menu choice. In regard to demographic characteristics, there was a significant difference in FC between the age groups of 19-25 and over 25 on the intrinsic cue word fresh on menu items. Meanwhile, no significant differences were detected for the other demographic characteristics. These findings suggested that the cue words local and fresh did not seem to be the main reason determining the participants’ menu selection. An analysis of the reasons behind of menu selection revealed that other factors, such as attractive menu descriptions, personal preference and healthfulness could be more important to the participants. The findings suggested that hyper-local restaurants could attract the younger age group by highlighting the cue words local and fresh through various strategies such as a story marketing approach. Additionally, restauranteurs are advised to use well-crafted descriptions with the word local in their menu, as it will influence consumers’ menu selections. Other descriptive words such as fresh, organic, healthy, support, and community that are closely related to the word local can be used together in menu descriptions.