Faculty Pub Night with Namin, Bui, Hamilton, and Saint Clair: What You Missed

This post was written by library student assistant, Carmen Venegas. Carmen is a senior communications studies major with a music minor. She was born and raised in the Bay Area, California. She has an interest in grassroots marketing, community advocacy, and ethical usage of social media.

On January 19, our Faculty Pub Night featured Aidin Namin, My Bui, Mitchell L. Hamilton, and Julian K. Saint Clair, from the LMU College of Business Administration to discuss their article, “Dine-in or take-out: Modeling millennials’ cooking motivation and choice,” recently published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services. Namin is an assistant professor of marketing and earned his Ph.D. in marketing analytics from the University of Texas at Dallas. Namin’s research is in analytics and big data. Bui is an associate professor of marketing and earned her Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas, and her MBA from Loyola University New Orleans. Bui’s experience is in promotional marketing and business development in market research. Hamilton is an associate professor of marketing and earned a B.S. in marketing from San Diego State University, an MBA from Clark Atlanta University, and a Ph.D. in consumer behavior from Syracuse University. He is interested in human behavior and more specifically, consumer behavior. Saint Clair is an associate professor of marketing and academic program director of the MBA at LMU. He earned a B.A. in business administration with a concentration in marketing from Clark Atlanta University, an M.S. in business administration from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in marketing with a concentration in consumer psychology from the University of Washington. His interests include marketing science and consumer research.

Namin began by acknowledging another co-author Brian T. Ratchford from the University of Texas at Dallas for his contribution to their paper. Next, Namin discussed how the article was previously titled “Freshman Fifteen,” however due to other countries outside of the United States being unfamiliar with this concept, they found it best to re-title and reposition the article in order for it to connect to more people.

Namin continued on to introduce the motivation and research question. He explained that annually across the world, more than 200 million consumers leave their childhood home to attend college. Due to this, students no longer have their parents’ immediate guidance for eating healthy. This led to an overall concern for the well-being of these young consumers, which generated the question, “How do we motivate college students to cook more?” Further, Namin discussed the concept of activity consumption, which enforces the notion that we are consuming the activities we participate in. However, he pointed out that there is no consideration of cooking as such an activity. Additionally, there is no research on what first-year college students are experiencing in correlation to their eating habits.

Namin explained the five motives that are involved in activity consumption: hedonic, self-fulfillment, social, skill, and cost. The hedonic motive means we generally consume activities that give us pleasure. The self-fulfillment motive is from the confidence one might gain from an activity. The social motive is derived from our human instinct to interact with others and seek belonging. For skill, if we are more skilled in an activity, we are more likely to participate. For cost, if an activity is more cost-accessible, we are more likely to participate.

Next, Namin explained that their research included qualitative analysis with focus groups and a quantitative analysis with survey data and econometrics and analytics to model the choices. For the qualitative component, there were ten focus groups with 8-10 undergraduate students who were asked about their cooking and eating out behavior. The focus groups were essential because they helped identify the factors involved in the choice of cooking or eating out as well as the control variables. After gathering the data from the focus groups, they developed a comprehensive questionnaire that was distributed to schools in Texas and California. Through this data, they were able to develop six sound hypotheses about the students’ cooking habits. Five of the hypotheses considered a different motivation: self-fulfillment, hedonic, social, cooking skills, and time cost of cooking. The sixth considered the effect of time for cooking, which depends on skill.

One of the major findings was that self-fulfillment motivation is a crucial motive for cooking. Due to this, efforts could be made to promote the self-satisfaction that can come from cooking. Another major conclusion is that hedonic motivation is negatively associated with the frequency of cooking. Because cooking can be a time and labor-intensive activity, it is easy for students to choose an alternative.  Moreover, the research showed mixed results for social motivation.  Namin explained that this may have been due to difficult wording on the questionnaire. However, the results also showed that skill has a positive impact on the choice to cook. More specifically, if a student has more skill in cooking, the time-consuming aspect becomes less relevant for the decision-making process.

Additionally, the authors selected two examples of student scenarios and paired them with solutions, or practical interventions.  he first was a student who enjoys cooking due to its self-fulfilling aspects and has acquired sufficient skills, but views cooking as time consuming. The practical intervention would be to provide access to equipment, adequate facilities (e.g. kitchen), and quick food recipes. The second was a student who does not find cooking enjoyable nor self-fulfilling, has no sufficient skills, but does not consider it time consuming. The practical intervention is to offer and promote courses that teach basic cooking skills and highlight the self-fulfilling aspects of the activity.

Namin concluded by discussing the limitations and further research opportunities. First, he mentioned that some students are aware of the health concerns of eating out, but it does not affect behavior. He explained that a possible solution for this would be to provide recipe boxes and meal kits, and incorporating cooking practices before and during college. There is also the possibility of different results for schools located in rural areas, other countries, during the COVID-19 pandemic, or for participants who do not recall their eating behavior. The authors hope that further research can be made to include these possible limitations and generate more widespread inclusive results.