Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)




Gregory Uche


The restaurant industry is the second largest employer in the United States; however, only 33% of restaurants are successful during the first 3 years of operation. The purpose of this exploratory multiple case study was to determine what marketing strategies small independent restaurant owners need for profitability. Aaker's brand equity model was the conceptual framework used to ground this study. Using a purposeful criterion sampling technique and semistructured interviews, 12 individuals (2 managers and 2 employees from 3 restaurants in Philadelphia) participated in the study. Data collected from interviews and archival business records were analyzed to generate themes, also allowing for triangulation. Five marketing strategy themes emerged from this study: word of mouth and social media marketing, limited financial resources, product differentiation and atmosphere, blogging and using the point of sale (POS) system, and employee engagement and upselling. Participants stated that word of mouth and social media marketing were powerful strategies that small independent restaurant owners should use to retain customers and gain new customers. Participants noted that product differentiation and atmosphere are unique characteristics that guide marketing strategies, brand positioning, and influence competitive advantage and profitability. Implications for positive social change include business development opportunities, opening resource centers for training programs, and free webinars associated with marketing and brand equity strategies. Communities, organizations, and new entrepreneurs will benefit from positive social change from the increase of social resources, community economic growth, employment opportunities, and sustainability.