A Comparative Study of Consumers’ Attitude and Behaviour towards Online Fashion Shopping
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Literature Review – A Comparative Study of Consumers’ Attitude and Behaviour towards Online Fashion Shopping: Cross-Cultural Study of Malaysia and United Kingdom.
Global retail industry
report (2006) defines retailers as the companies whose foremost business is to act as the final sales point to end-consumers for wholesalers and manufacturers of both food and non-food products. Such a definition provides that a retail company must be a purchaser of the retailer’s goods as a private individual or small trader; that the goods being purchased are mainly physical goods, and possibly with retail services which serves as secondary component of their offer; and that purchasing frequency of goods can vary significantly. The key characteristics of the global retail industry include significant diversity in business risk; tight logistics and high standards of execution; capital-intensive; growth strategy and relevant markets that could be local or regional in nature.
As argued, business risk is ultimately a function of a segment in which the retailer operates within a competitive environment, affecting the retailer’s positioning within the given segment. There are specialty retailers that are more exposed to cyclical and seasonal volatility including product obsolescence and fashion risk, and as exacerbated by the regulatory environment. Nonetheless, business risks are diminished through appropriate positioning and securing a niche within a given segment. The ‘right product at the right time at the right place’ concept is also inherent to the global retailers as a source to combat fierce competition. Value propositions of the products and services are also a priority. Capital intensiveness manifest itself in investing in fixed assets such as retail outlets, warehouses and distribution networks, which must be rigorously managed for optimal returns. Organic growth and global expansions model are inexistence in the global retailer industry, putting pressures on sustainability despite organizational changes. Although there are retailers who chose to concentrate on geographical diversification, there are who stick to local or regional operations as a precursor to eventual global integration
Retail industry in Malaysia
In 2007, the Malaysian retailing industry posited a significant growth, as (2008) report disclosed. The growth in the said industry is boosted by the higher private demand, pay hike for civil servants resulting to higher percentage of income to be disposed, successful marketing campaign and strong expansion of new retail outlets. The strengthened local retailing industry is also because of the development of new shopping malls and the extension of shopping centres which entails the housing of more number of retail outlets. The 2007 was perceived to be the leader in putting value growth to the industry. Launched by the Malaysian government, the campaign targeted 20 million tourists into Malaysia, contributing to a more alive retailing environment.
Although the Malaysian retailing industry conforms to a fragmented setting with more entrants crowding environment, a more competitive retailing industry that is because of increasing number of local and international retailers. Store-based retailing is still in dominance since the concept of non-store retailing is less established. However, non-store retailing has witnessed a faster value growth in 2007 via direct selling which has an easier acceptance of the concept to all Malaysian income groups. Moreover, the continued growth of the retailing industry is being supported by the government by means of attracting more players who are willing to invest in new outlets, larger selling space and allocating greater budgets to marketing activities because of the rising consumer confidence ( 2008).
Retail industry in United Kingdom
Contrary to that of Malaysian’s retailing industry outcomes, the UK retailing industry has experienced a slow down in 2007. The report states that the down surge is because of the fear of a slowing housing market industry as coupled with the rising utility bills, interest rates and mortgage payments in the UK, all of which imposed a direct hit on the disposable income of consumers. Supermarkets are dominant in the retailing scene especially the non-food and other specialized retailers. In addition, the Big Four reaches a new record of market share although it faced a close scrutiny while independent retailers closed down on the high streets. As for the discounters, the expansion of outlets and moving offer to upmarket were perceived to strengthen market presence.
Such discounter movement in the UK was supported by the ‘schizophrenic’ shopping behaviour wherein consumers mixed bargains with purchases of indulgent products or luxuries, under empowering the traditional shopping structure. Aside, ethical or environmental shopping is even more reflected in consumer behaviour, to which the retailers responded with equal gusto. This endeavour made possible the emergence of whole new dimension to which retailers could define themselves. Internet retailing, further, insofar, has been the most dynamic where UK consumers increasingly becoming more comfortable with online shopping. This was fuelled by the increased household access to broadband services and improved web designing efforts.
Global fashion industry
(2003) claim that fashion is perceived to be one of the most essential parts of civilization as it reflects the great culture of the past. Likewise, fashion exemplifies the changes within a given society over time. The authors also maintained that the materialization of global fashion transformed the way fashion was perceived in the modern world, changing the focus on standardization and low-cost advantage. Through fashion globalization also, the migration of fashion production offshore as well as the resultant dependence on non-traditional ethos of fashion designing imposed threat to domestic small fashion players. While also, the condition impedes them from ‘creating intrinsic fashion on a small but sustainable scale. As said by (1992), fashion is a more accurate barometer because of its inherent universality attribute whereby fashion affects everyone. Fashion too characterizes the personal expressionism of life at a given time and place.
For the purpose of satisfying the ever-changing demands of the consumer, the global fashion industry must find resources and avenues to continuously do such. (2004) affirm that a new industry must emerge, one which basically draws from the opportunities technologies could provide. Online fashion retailing, as (2003) figured, possesses special requirements compared to that of other online retailing sectors. Fashion visualization necessitates the existence of virtual catwalk, user interface and client/server architecture. In order to respond to the dilemmas on online fashion retailing such as the lack of customer consulting and the accuracy of high three-dimensional display quality, online retailing for fashion products need to realized at a high level so as to achieve broad customer acceptance
Consumer behaviour refers to the decision processes and acts involved in purchasing using a product. In order that firms could understand the consumer behaviour, there is the requirement to create the marketing mix which will give optimum utility to customers, therefore analyzing the what, where, when and how consumers buy ( 2005; 2007). The types of consumer behaviour are determined by level of involvement in purchase decision and buyers’ level of involvement based on motivation. The first determinant focuses on the importance and intensity of interest in a product on a given situation while the second determinant deals with the information about a certain product and brand. There are personal, social and economic risks and that the higher the risks, the higher the involvement for a consumer.
Types of consumer behaviour
Even so, consumer behaviour could be categorized as routine response or programmed behaviour, limited decision-making, extensive decision-making and impulse buying. Programmed behaviours are inclined for low involvement frequently to purchase low cost items. These automatic consumptions need no researching and rigorous decision-making. The second behaviour is the occasional purchasing of product which requires information about unfamiliar brand hence a significant amount of time in gathering information. In the third behaviour, high degree of economic, performance and psychological risks assessments is considered while for the last behaviour, it necessitates no conscious planning at all.
Factors that affect consumer behaviour
While at it, it would be plausible to take note of the factors that affect the consumer buying process: personal, psychological and social. Personal are unique to an individual consumer including the demographic factors like gender, race and age. Personal factors greatly affect the decision-making especially because risks and utility are also very individualistic (2007).
Consequently, the psychological factors include motives, perception, ability and knowledge, attitudes, personality and lifestyles. Motives are the energizing force onward satisfying a goal or a need. Perception refers to the process of selecting, organizing and interpreting information inputs in order to produce meaning. Changes in consumer attitude are based on information and experience and the capacity to learn these, same with attitude which are also learn from interaction with other people. Knowledge, on the other hand, is the familiarity with the product and expertise. Internal traits and behaviours; consistency with self-concept affects consumerism as well as the consistent patterns of living of our lifestyles
Consumer attitudes impact consumer behaviour more compared to other factors. Our attitude represents our likes and dislikes, thus preferences and decisions. As a lasting general evaluation of a thing, attitudes could serve a multiple purpose such as utilitarian, value-expression, ego-expression and knowledge. The variety of consumer attitudes suggest that there is a very different set of attitude concerning a product, the brand name and association, the retailer, the company and the channels of distribution as well as the means of communication. There are three elements which govern consumer attitude as: belief – the psychological association based on knowledge between the product and an attribute of such product; affect – as influenced by affective response or emotive association in products; and intention – the behaviour component of consumer attitude based on the motives of the person ( 2002,).
Social factors, finally, affect the consumer cognition via opinion leaders, roles and family influences, reference groups, social class and culture and sub-culture. Opinion leaders serve as the spokespeople wherein consumers draw from their familiarity with the person himself/herself. The roles of the people consider the expectations of you from your position within a given group. Family, where majority of behaviours are patterned, has its own life cycle which characterizes unique consumer demands. As such, consumer behaviour begins inside the family with a mixture of family and individual consumer decision-making. As an individual identifies with a group, s/he acquires many of the values, attitudes and behaviours of the group members. Social class, which also operates in a larger cultural schema, distinguishes the preferences as well as the buying capacity of the people, affecting their decision-making and actual purchasing. Finally, culture or the set of values, ideas and attitudes dictates the level of conformity among its members. Given the fact that these are transmitted to posterity and other culture as well through acculturation, there is the emergence of changing trends and patterns of behaviour regarding consumption and consumer behaviour ( 2007).
Consumer buying process
The consumer buying process is set in six stages: problem recognition, information search, alternatives evaluation, purchase decision, purchase and post-purchase evaluation. The first stage points to determining the difference between desired state and actual condition. Product information could stimulate this stage onward to gathering information. Searching happens internally and externally, the first through memory and the second through marketer dominated sources or comparison shopping aside from word of mouth. The success in this stage could lead to having an evoked set of alternatives whereby the consumer establishes criteria prior to weighing them. After the choice has been made, actual purchasing based on product availability will be considered. Whether the consumer makes the right decision or not in purchasing will be contemplated on the last stage This last stage is best explained by the cognitive dissonance theory.
Cognitive dissonance theory
Proposed by in 1957, the theory of cognitive dissonance refers to the motivational state, impelling individuals to attempt to reduce and eliminate it. (1962) hypothesized that the existence of dissonance motivates the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance and that when dissonance is present the tendency for the person is to dynamically avoid situations and information that would likely increase the dissonance. preferred to use the term dissonance because it has a less logical connotation than inconsistency. As argued, dissonance could mean the ‘existence of no fitting relations among cognitions which makes it a motivating factor in its own right. He continued that cognitive dissonance could be perceived as the precursor condition which leads to any activity purporting the reduction of dissonance
Notably, any knowledge that a person possess about himself or the environment is a cognition or cognitive element. As (1976) put it, cognitions could be specific or general and firm or vague or the combination of these elements. The correlation between cognitive elements is known as consonance, and such elements have psychological implications which could be based on cultural mores, demands of logicality, behavioural commitment and past experience among others. After which, cognitive conflict or cognitive imbalance could arise when two cognitions have dissonant relationship. Dissonant relations of cognitions are dependent on the degree of importance we give to such cognitions, making possible the irrelevance of such cognitions. In sum, cognitive dissonance refers to our motivational state produced when an individual has cognitive elements which imply the opposite of one another. Such a state, unless cognitive work lessens the relative importance of relevant cognitions in lieu with the elements that are resistant to changes, cognitive dissonance will persist
(1969), and as reiterated by (1992), cognitive dissonance is flawed especially when taken from the perspective of self-concept. Aronson believed that the cognitive dissonance happens when an individual see his actions that conflicts with his self-concept, as opposed to what advocated that people experience dissonance because of conflicting cognitions. states that arguments are central on attitude polarization effects. Both authors consider that the theory could best explain the biased evolutions, but balance and consistency theories do not bring about aversive arousal
(1997) state that motivation commenced with a presence of a stimulus, spurring the recognition of a need. Eventually, need recognition occurs when a perceived discrepancy exists between the actual and desired states of being. Needs could be innate or learned and are never fully satisfied. Expressive needs and utilitarian needs are the two basic consumer needs where the former involve desires by consumers to fulfil social or aesthetic requirements and the latter involve desires by consumers to solve basic problems. Further, feeling and emotions often accompany the needs, comprising of the fundamental emotions people experience like interest, joy, disgust, guilt, contempt, etc.
According to (1987), motives or consumer motivations act a central role in consumer behavioural processes. Defined as the enduring propositions which direct behaviour towards the attainment of specific goals and objectives, motives are both arouse behaviour and a director to certain ends. Abraham Maslow presented the best known classification of motives from physiological to self-actualization needs. The hierarchy suggests that consumers will satisfy the basic motivational level first prior to satisfying higher levels of motives. Important to note are motive is caused by a deficit or a dearth and differs from each other in type and amount; however, motives are based on needs and propel people to perceive, think and act in ways to satisfy a need. Implicit motivation refers to people’s unconscious desires, aspirations and needs while the explicit motives better predict responses to immediate, specific situations and to choice behaviours and attitudes (2005).
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations
(2008) contend that there is a significant correlation among cognitive absorption, perceived access, perceived usefulness and fashion involvement. They have studied that intrinsic and extrinsic motivations influences acceptance of Internet shopping. Such an act to given an individual the incentive to do something, motivation is the biological, emotional, cognitive or social forces which activate and direct behaviour. Intrinsic motivations are internal, focusing on specific activities that will give them pleasure whereas extrinsic behaviours are the factors external to the individual which are unrelated to the specific activities that an individual engages into. (1980) stresses that the combination of behaviour and reward increases the likelihood that such behaviour will be subsequently repeated. The interplay between these two motivations determines the total amount of motivation to undertake an activity. In considering the determinants of actions, the influences of fundamental motivations with extrinsic rewards and vice versa must be taken into contemplation
(1999) observes that intrinsic and extrinsic values are basic to consumer value, by which instrumental or terminal values are at the centre. The author argued that the major characteristic between intrinsic and extrinsic value involves the differences between a means to an end and an end in itself. As such, objects with extrinsic value met with instrumental needs as these are used for practical purposes to increase convenience, improve quality and cultivate status. Terminal needs, on the other hand, are met by intrinsic value, which are consumed only for the gratification derived from having fun, feeling virtuous or rejoicing Nonetheless, consumer value could be intrinsically or extrinsically motivated through satisfying first more basic human needs. Such needs will be the foundation of the extent of motivation and the willingness to partake in an activity.
hierarchy of needs
work is central to the development of hierarchy of needs through which he believed that human beings aspire to become self-actualizing. Its core thesis is that human needs are organized in a hierarchy, with survival needs at its base. The needs for security and social interaction are at a progressively higher level in the hierarchy, with the need to learn, grow and reach one’s potential as the highest level. (2000) see it as “as lower level needs are satisfied, successively higher needs become more influential in motivating human behaviour.” As such, when the needs in the lowest level of the hierarchy remain unsatisfied, other needs such as learning, creativity, innovation or self-esteem will remain stagnant as it will never arise in the surface
The psychology of consumer behaviour is best explained by this hierarchy of needs. (1990) aver that many commercial advertisements can be considered in terms of attempts to appeal to one or more of these needs, especially on the lower level needs The actual purchasing of a product is usually intended to fill some sort of need or desire. However, there is some discrepancy between the consumer’s actual state and their desired state. So, in responding to a need, consumers are motivated to make purchases. In the case of shopping, the consumer is motivated to satisfy the want or need. Understanding these motives are then critical in creating effective marketing programs. Marketers believe that it is an imperative to understand where in the hierarchy the consumer is before designing the marketing program ( 2005).
Consumer learning refers to the process by which an individual acquire the purchase and consumption knowledge and experience they apply to future related behaviour. Learning could be intentional or incidental, but could be made more understandable through motives, cues, response and reinforcement. (1990) recommend that there are at least two ways that a consumer takes learning into account. First is through a type of vicarious instrumental conditioning and second, through some variants of classical conditioning which involves vicarious learning. Examples of these are vicarious classical conditioning of emotional responses and classical conditioning of vicarious emotional responses.
The individual indirectly acquires an association by observing a model who is directly acquiring the association. Deliberate educational efforts also affect the consumer learning. For instance, an individual engages in informative family discussion of television commercials or home economics class discussion of good buying practices. Nonetheless, such individuals could also engage in purposive and systematic training of consumer knowledge and skills There are two major schools of thought which explains how individuals learn: behavioural theories which view learning as an observable response to stimuli and cognitive theories the believes learning is a functional or mental processing.
Behavioural theories underpin marketing applications such as repetition, stimulus generalization and stimulus discrimination. Classical conditioning and operant conditioning are two of the basic consumer motivations. Classical conditioning, a neutral stimulus, is combined with a stimulus which elicits a response. For effective conditioning to take place, the neutral stimulus like the brand name should precede in time the appearance of the unconditioned stimulus, making the pairing highly salient to the consumer. This conditioning applies in advertising and direct selling which identifies powerful positive stimulus and associate brand with it.
Operant conditioning is the process of modifying the consequences of the behaviour based on the frequency of the behaviour occurrence. As such, of positively reinforced, the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated is increased and decreases when the behaviour is ‘punished’. Reinforce refers to anything that occurs after a behaviour and changes the likelihood that an action will be emitted again whereby the punisher is the stimulus that has the opposite effect of the reinforce. Discriminative stimuli occurs in the presence of the reinforce and do not occur in its absence.
The third behavioural theory is vicarious learning. Vicarious learning is the phenomenon wherein people observe actions of others to develop ‘patterns of behaviour’ ( 1997). The authors also noted that there are three important ideas when it comes to consumer learning. The first is that people are viewed as symbolic beings hence they anticipate the probable consequences of their behaviour. Second, people learn by watching the actions of others as well as the consequences of these actions. Third is central on the idea that people have the ability to regulate their own behaviour.
People also strive to being learned because of the perceived risks in consumerism. These risks are the perceptions of the consumers regarding the overall negativity of a course of action. The basis is the evaluation of the possible negative outcomes and the likelihood of the occurrence of these outcomes. The seven types of consumer risks according to (1997) are: financial, performance, physical, psychological, social, time and opportunity loss. Characteristics of the individual, nature of the task, characteristics of the product and salience of negative outcomes are the factors that influence risk perception. The causality leading to perceptions of risks is elucidated by the attribution theory.
Attribution theory was developed by . Such theory suggests that there are several ways that an individual explain his or her behaviour as well as of others. Attribution could be situational or dispositional wherein the former are the causality to outside factors while the latter are causality to factors inherent to the individual. According to (1983), our consciousness prefers simplicity and this condition is a clear implication that consciousness is a dynamic process, moving to maximize simplicity within its boundaries. The authors referred to simplicity as the inverse function of separate and unconnected elements in consciousness. Causal attribution then is the manifestation of such movement which maximizes simplicity within consciousness (p. 1).
Simply the perceived causes of outcomes, (2006) assert that attribution theory explains how people perceive the causes of their and others actions. That people are motivated to seek information to form attributions is the assumption behind the theory, stressing that attributions possess motivational consequences. Essentially, the process of assigning attributions is governed by principles such as locus of control and analysis of action. Other proponents proposed that people attribute based on effective personal force and effective environmental force. Power and abilities make up the personal force, and how these two elements combined with the elements of environmental force influences outcomes
Cognitive learning theories, nevertheless, embrace the ideology that the kind of learning most characteristic of human is problem solving. Theorists concern how information is being processed by the human mind and how is it stored, retained and retrieved. Memory is one among the examples of how our mind processes and stores information on the sensory store, short-term store and long-term store. Rehearsal, encoding, storage and retrieval are the processes of memory.
The involvement of the individual, as well, determines the degree to which the information will be processed. Basically, because there are specific situations that an individual give low importance to or relevance while extensive information processing in specific situations of high relevance will have the greater impact. Apart from the involvement theory, the hemisphere lateralization theory proposes that low-involvement medium could result in passive learning whereas interactive medium encourage cognitive information processing more.
Measures of consumer learning
The measure of consumer learning are recall and recognition tests, cognitive responses to advertising and attitudinal and behavioural measures of brand loyalty especially in terms of consumer’s behaviour or attitude toward the brand. (1997) highlight that understanding how consumers learn are central in teaching them their brand is the best and to develop brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is defined as the consumer’s consistent preference for and purchase for a specific brand. Reducing risks, facilitating selection and saving time and effort are the main reasons behind brand loyalty, with respect to levels of consumer involvement. (1995) maintain that customer involvement is the key to greater loyalty as it produces measurably higher levels of brand equity and profitable volume for the brand
The development of consumer brand loyalty in online stores is rather difficult compared to traditional stores. (2007) conducted a study that purports on investigating electronic store – e-store – attributes which develop the customers’ positive perceptions on the image of e-stores, acknowledging the importance of developing the sense of loyalty and customer retention. They have discovered that for online stores to hone brand loyalty the e-store image must be embedded on effective e-merchandising, e-servicing and e-shopping atmosphere attribute, leading to e-patronage intentions thereby e-loyalty.