Altruism vs. Egoism: Promotional Content Approaches for Restaurants during COVID-19

Connie Li, Ho Yan Kwan, Chak Wang Chan , Kit Lung Ling

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperpeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to the restaurant industry. In Hong Kong, numerous lockdowns and social distancing measures have deterred most customers from dining in. The pandemic has heightened customers' awareness not only of what they purchase, but where and how they make those purchases. Besides traditional sales promotions such as discounts, some restaurants have emphasized corporate social responsibility (CSR), e.g., Pizza Express donates HK$8 to Hong Kong Cancer Fund for every Giardiniera pizza sold. Interestingly, previous research suggests that CSR can have a different impact on value performance depending on economic conditions or business environments (Lee et al., 2013). As such, it is important to examine the impact of CSR initiatives that emphasize altruistic (e.g., charitable donations) and egoistic (e.g., discounts) promotional content on consumers' attitudes and purchase intentions toward service providers in the catering industry (Kim & Lee 2022; Yadav, 2016).

An experiment was conducted in Hong Kong (N=109). The study was a 2 (promotional content: altruistic vs. egotistic) x 2 (altruistic value: high vs. low) between-subject design. We randomly assigned participants to read a restaurant menu containing either altruistic (HK$10 will be donated to an environmental organization for every meal purchased) or egotistic (a 20% off coupon will be given for meal purchased) promotional content. The results indicated that promotional content itself did not affect customer attitudes toward the service provider, but a significant interaction effect between promotional content and customer altruistic value was observed. Specifically, high altruism-oriented customers were more likely to generate a positive attitude toward the provider if altruistic promotional content emphasizes concern for others' welfare, while low altruism-oriented customers are more likely to engage in egoistic content that emphasizes their self-benefits. By matching promotional content with altruistic values, customers showed a more positive attitude, which ultimately led to a greater purchase likelihood.

This study offers restaurant operators practical marketing insights into effective promotional content (altruistic vs. egoistic) that will increase consumers' attitude toward consumer purchases during the COVID-19 pandemic.


ConferenceThe International Conference on Environment and Human Health
Abbreviated titleICEHH 2022
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Altruism vs. Egoism: Promotional Content Approaches for Restaurants during COVID-19'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this