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  • Subject area(s): Hospitality
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  • Published on: 15th October 2019
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Does free Wi-Fi make fast food outlets more attractive to consumers?


This topic is regarding whether fast food restaurants that provide Wi-Fi use it as a strategic competitive advantage against their competitors, it also looks at other fast food restaurants that don’t provide Wi-Fi and their reasons why, we also see how it affects the business. Now that fast food restaurants have introduced Wi-Fi, more and more customers are likely to go just to use their Wi-Fi connectivity for a few hours. The customer base rages from teenagers to adults who use Wi-Fi, either for social media, school work, or work. However, this research task is to determine whether Wi-Fi is a strategic competitive advantage for the owners to use in their stores and to determine how this advantage affects the fast food stores that don’t provide Wi-Fi to their customers.

What is Wi-Fi? Wi-Fi is an abbreviated term, Wireless Fidelity. Wi-Fi is wireless technology that you can get connected almost everywhere, at home, in libraries, schools, and even fast food outlets. Wi-Fi uses radio waves to provide the users with network connectivity. This allows users to access internet services.

This research is interesting because it would be used to compare the sales of how many people have bought from each outlet, when and why they installed the Wi-Fi router and if there’s a difference in sales.


• Why did the management staff of the fast food outlets provide Wi-Fi free of charge?

• How has Wi-Fi become a strategic competitive advantage for the business?

• How do fast food outlets that don’t provide Wi-Fi increase their sales?

Review of literature

Article 1: Free Wi-Fi as strategic competitive advantage for fast food outlets in the knowledge of era.

Technology is now the new era, meaning that many people are starting to have a practical understanding of how technology works during this 21st century. Allowing them to communicate with others through social media platforms, via email, twitter, or Instagram. Fast food outlets are using the ways of technology to their strategic competitive advantage because some fast food outlets have started to provide Wi-Fi to their customers which is regarded as innovative because you’re providing a new service while they enjoy their meal or while they wait for their food to arrive.

Using Wi-Fi connectivity in some fast food outlets could be a disadvantage to other already existing store, because it would be a somewhat difficult for them to increase their sales. But they might have their own strategy in order to win against its competitors.

In South Africa Wi-Fi has become quite the sensation, it has recently spread from hospitality areas. Nowadays in most places there are signs advertising free Wi-Fi, initially Wi-Fi was more corporate based but now industries and businesses such as fast food outlets have realised that they can connect with their customers on a more personal level and they can start interacting with the consumer because everyone is socially connected. “In line with this, people should realize that technology is an added value in achieving competitive advantage in the knowledge era. those in businesses, including food industries, are of no exception” (Iskandarani, 2008). “For a fast food to grow and become profitable, you need to come up with your own idea. This is a good idea for new entrants’ stores because we live in the 21st and people are always on their phones during a meal”. (yusop,2011).

With the amounts of digital gadgets, we have, more and more people are making decisions to eat at restaurants based on whether they have free Wi-Fi. Consumers choose to eat at restaurants that offer a free Wi-Fi zone because it allows accessibility to tools such as social media platforms and free calls. Customers who have access to free Wi-Fi can always leave reviews of your restaurant. Management from the outlets could advise the consumers coming into their restaurant that they can get discounts or promotions on meals if they join the outlets Facebook or Instagram page and asking them to leave reviews on the restaurant, which would then lead to promoting the outlet through word of mouth. Fast food restaurant is normally referred to as a type of quick service restaurant where customer will only select from the menu and food is served within a short time. By providing free food operators can be regarded as being innovative in introducing new service to their customers, most importantly, they are applying the use of ICT as a strategy to remain competitive in the industry. (Iskandarani, 2008; Nasiri and Deng, 2008)

This article has helped because it gives an understanding of what customers want from the from the fast food outlets and what they’re trying to do by increasing their sales. Management staff could be under pressure because if they provide good quality food they should be able to provide Wi-Fi that has a good working connection. (Yusop,2011).

This source is useful because it some parts contribute to the topic. The authors of this American journal are more so experts in technology than the fast food industry, the information from this article is true and not just facts because the author did first and secondary research.

Article 2: Aiming at rivals, Starbucks will offer free Wi-Fi.

This article touches on how some fast food outlets do not want their customers to just buy one cup of coffee and stay for hours, using their Wi-Fi. This shows how a business can lose sales because the consumer is only worried about the Wi-Fi and they’re not buying anything else. In order for that not to happen its suggested instead of just letting them sit in the shop and never buy anything, are encouraged by some people posting sings asking people to buy what they offer. Most coffee fast food outlets are usually used as offices.

Offering free Wi-Fi obviously has its benefits but it also has its disadvantages, especially to the fast food outlet providing the Wi-Fi. One of the biggest benefits of offering free Wi-Fi is that it increases the time spent on premises. “We all have had experiences of working at cafes where the laptops just took over, and it started to feel more like library,”. Consumers tend to stay longer if they can use their tablets and laptops via Wi-Fi. While using Wi-Fi, the customers also tend to spend more money than spending less, which is every business owner’s worst fear, because they don’t want to pay for you to use their free Wi-Fi then you don’t buy anything from their store, that’s just making themselves a loss. The disadvantages for having Wi-Fi are that there is an increase in the tax you pay and there might be a lack of security especially because it’s free, because it’s easy to access, some users can also find it easy to hack the Wi-Fi.

In Durban and around the world the competition for having a fast food store has increased and intensified and we do need to retain the customers because they are what makes the store a profit. In the article is says that they have created a partnership, because of the competitive rivalry we have, a fast food outlet could create a partnership with another website that will help in their daily because that would keep the customers coming back which means spending money on the store. But if you did not go into a partnership agreement, the restaurant would be the same as any that provides Wi-Fi. (Miller,2010).

This article is from the New York Times, written by Claire Cain Miller who’s a correspondent for the New York Times, a newspaper in America. She writes about gender, families, and the future of work for the upshot. This article is reliable to a certain extent because she went to go interview sources that can corroborate her story but the article didn’t really give as much of the information than what was expected.

Article 3: How to get the most out of free customer Wi-Fi?

offering free Wi-Fi to customers is a way for companies to attract customers but they have to ensure that the Wi-Fi connection is fast and reliable, having Wi-Fi can also increase sales and customer satisfaction.

Young states that when you have you have Wi-Fi you can track your customers, tracking how long they stay on the Wi-Fi for and the business should be transparent about what they’re doing, so that the customers don’t sue for invasion of privacy. With providing Wi-Fi there are bound to be problems along the way. there are problems such as unreliable or slow network, unsecured network and insufficient bandwidth. slow network could cause problems for the business and the customer because the customer could get annoyed that the Wi-Fi router is slow causing the business to lose customers.  

Gathering Of Data

The information that I collected was to prove that Wi-Fi is a strategic competitive advantage used by other fast food outlets. Nowadays more and more fast food outlets have started introducing Wi-Fi into their shops because it brings in more customers. Ten questionnaires were handed out on the different days to different groups of people, meaning different age groups. The age groups started from ages 12-65. I chose these ages because we are all socially connected, be it at any age, the elder people would likely use Wi-Fi for business purposes. These surveys are conducted anonymously, they only signed to show that they really did answer the questionnaire and it wasn’t forged. Questionnaires also went to the managers of Debonairs and fishaways for them to answer questions about if they do or do not have Wi-Fi connectivity. This project consists of both primary and secondary research. The secondary research was found on the internet, which are mostly the articles and journals. I also conducted interviews with the managers

Presentation of Findings

Question 1

This graph illustrates the different age groups that answered the questionnaires and they are as shown in the graph, ages 12-18; 19-35; 36-50; 51-65. The most common age group is 12-18. This is understandable because teenagers like going places with their friends and they’re most likely going to eat at a fast food outlet with Wi-Fi because most of them are always on social media.

Question 2

This graph shows the options of how often people us Wi-Fi, chosen by females and males from ages 12 to 65. the most option was “Everyday” which was chosen by 5 people and the second was a tie between “Every few weeks” and “Less often” both with 2 people and “Once a day” was chosen by one person. Using Wi-Fi everyday can cost the stores a lot of money especially if it is capped. The reason why I chose these age groups is that everyone is starting to modernize and is using technology.

Question 3

This graph shows two options that were chosen by the males and females that were asked to do the survey. The questionnaires show that 6 out of the 10 people prefer to use Wi-Fi for their personal use such as using social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, which would help the business because they could promote that they are using the restaurants Wi-Fi. And 4 out of 10 people use the Wi-Fi connectivity for business reasons.

Question 4

This graph indicates the different times of the day the consumers have chosen to use during the day. If the Wi-Fi is not being used in the morning it means there’s a loss for the restaurant. If the restaurant wanted people to use the Wi-Fi, the manager could come up with a breakfast promotion to lure in the customers and tell them that they have free Wi-Fi already provided. 6 out of 10 people have chosen to use Wi-Fi during daytime and 4 out 10 in the evening.

Question 5

This graph reveals the how long the consumers use the internet for. The two popular options are for “short periods” of time and ‘long period” of time, they were both chosen by 4 people each and “frequently” was the least chosen one.  

Question 6

This graph shows how these 10 people knew that the restaurants they go to have Wi-Fi now. 4 people were told by their friends, I renamed it as word of mouth, 1 person said they saw it on the menu, 2 people said they’d asked the waiter that was serving them and the last three were grouped as advertisements but 1 person said it was advertised on tv and the remaining 2 said advertising boards. These restaurants are using the right platforms of adverting because we all watch television from time to time and were also driving around so they do see the boards of the fast food outlet.

Question 7

This graph shows that unfortunately 9 people answered this part of the questionnaire, this shows that 4 people sad they do not have a preferred and 5 said yes, they do. the 5 said they do have preferred restaurants because they have good Wi-Fi connectivity that you can easily connect to.

Question 8

This graph illustrates that unfortunately 9 people answered this part of the questionnaire. This shows why these people from different age groups chose what attracted them to the fast food outlet in the first place.  

Question 9

 This graph shows the peoples preferred restaurant, 3 people said Roco mamas, 2 said wimpy, 1 said Mc Donald’s and the 3 said Mugg n Bean. 1 person didn’t answer the question. These are the restaurants chosen by the people, all these stores have Wi-Fi connectivity so that they can connect with their friends while enjoying a meal.


The main aim for this project is, has Wi-Fi become a strategic competitive advantage for businesses especially fast food outlets. All the research that I have done shows that may other outlets have followed the trend of having Wi-Fi in their restaurants. this trend all started in Wi-Fi and now it has reached south Africa, more and more people are becoming increasingly aware of Wi-Fi, especially when they are spending time with their friends. This also helps the fast food outlets because consumers could post about their food on their social network sites, bringing them more customers. I think the aim of this project is proven because this benefits the customers and the business owners. 

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