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  1. 1. Effect of Brand Image on Consumer Purchasing Behaviour on Clothing: Comparison between China and the UK’s Consumers By Kwok Keung Tam 2007A Dissertation presented in part considerationfor the degree of “MSc International Business”
  2. 2. Table of Content Page numbersAbstract iAcknowledgements iiChapter 1: Introduction 11.1 The importance of brand image on fashion clothing 11.2 Background information of China and the UK clothing markets 2 1.2.1 China clothing market 2 Chinese spending habits 3 Impediments to China’s clothing brand development 4 1.2.2 UK clothing market 5 British spending habits 5 Characteristics of the UK clothing market 61.3 Theoretical framework 71.4 Objectives of the dissertation 71.5 Outline of the dissertation 8Chapter 2: Literature review 102.1 Introduction 102.2 The important roles of brand 10 2.2.1 The characteristics of successful brands 112.3 Brand equity 12 2.3.1 Brand awareness 13 2.3.2 Perceived quality 15 2.3.3 Brand loyalty 16 2.3.4 Brand association 172.4 Consumer buying behaviour 19
  3. 3. 2.4.1 Models of consumer behaviour 202.5 Summary 23Chapter 3: Methodology 243.1 Introduction 243.2 Theoretical backgrounds 24 3.2.1 Review of different research traditions 24 3.2.2 Quantitative versus qualitative analysis 25 3.2.3 Reliability and validity of data 263.3 Justification of research method 273.4 Sampling 293.5 Interview schedule 31 3.5.1 Stage one 31 3.5.2 Stage two 32 3.5.3 Stage three 343.6 Administration 343.7 Analysis strategy 34 3.7.1 Grounded theory and its relationship to qualitative data 34 analysis 3.7.2 Within-case and cross-case analysis 35 Within-case analysis 36 Cross-case analysis 373.8 Summary 37Chapter 4: Research findings and discussion 384.1 Introduction 384.2 Backgrounds of respondents 384.3 Effect of clothing brand image on consumer buying behaviour 40 4.3.1 Significance of clothing brands on consumer purchasing 40 decisions 4.3.2 Brand awareness 43
  4. 4. 4.3.3 Perceived quality 46 4.3.4 Brand loyalty 50 4.3.5 Brand association 53 4.3.6 Consumer buying behaviour 544.4 Results 564.5 Summary 57Chapter 5: Conclusions 585.1 Introduction 585.2 Conclusions 58 5.2.1 Significance of clothing brands on consumer purchasing 58 decisions 5.2.2 Brand awareness 59 5.2.3 Perceived quality 59 5.2.4 Brand loyalty 60 5.2.5 Brand association 60 5.2.6 Consumer buying behaviour 615.3 Limitations 615.4 Implications 625.5 Recommendations for further research 64References 66Appendix 1: The 100 top brands 2006 79Appendix 2: Interview questions 80Appendix 3: Interview transcription 81
  5. 5. AbstractBrand is a powerful tool to attract more consumers to buy particular products.Some may even regarded it as equity as it can add values to the products. Thisstudy examines the factors which contribute to brand equity in the clothingindustry, comparing the consumer behaviour between the British and Chineserespondents based on the four respects of brand equity, namely brandawareness, perceived quality, brand loyalty and brand association.Semi-structured interviews have been conducted to solicit responses frominterviewees for analysis. The findings suggested that Chinese tend to havenegative perceptions towards the quality of clothes produced in their owncountry. Having known that China has no influential clothing brands around theworld, it is important that Chinese factory owners together with marketersshould join hands to have better control over the clothes quality. In the UK,clothing brands are much better developed than its China counterparts,however, more emphasis should be placed on the marketing strategies suchas rewarding customer loyalty with a view to enhance the sustainabledevelopment of the clothing brands. i
  6. 6. AcknowledgementsI would like to thank my advisor, Dr. Vicky Story, in assisting me to finish thedissertation. She has given me support as well as valuable commentsthroughout the consultation period so that I can manage to handle one of thehardest subjects in my university life.In addition, I would also acknowledge my school-mates for their help in thedata collection process. They have devoted their precious time for theinterviews voluntarily and their wholehearted support contributes to thesuccess of this dissertation.Last but not least, I would like to extend my gratitude to my family members,especially my father Chun Shiu Tam who has devoted himself to the clothingindustry for nearly half a century. He has not only inspired me to do thisdissertation, but also encouraged me to face the challenge ahead. Thisdissertation is dedicated to my family and I will try my best to do anything. ii
  7. 7. Chapter 1 Introduction1.1 The importance of brand image on fashion clothingClothing, as a matter of fact, is a kind of necessity that helps keep our bodieswarm. Human beings cannot live without the protection from clothes in adverseconditions and this signifies how important clothing is for us. Nowadays, inaddition to the basic functions, clothes can also serve as fashion items, whichcan tell how significant an individual is, express the status an individual hasand what their personal image is like (O’Cass, 2000). Thus, clothing can helprepresent our personal identity.Shopping for clothes is one of the popular pastimes among people from allages, different genders and cultural backgrounds. Owing to the proliferation ofbrands in the clothing sector, consumers need to take serious considerationduring the buying processes. As mentioned by Rayport and Jaworski (2003),the purchasing processes can be divided into three stages, namelypre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase. Each stage is of equal importancethat can alter the consumer buying decision. Once consumers make apurchasing decision, consumers may need to recognize their personal needs,read product information, decide which and where to buy, determine whetherto buy again from the same retailer, choose the buying modes, showsatisfaction to the services or product quality and finally be loyal to the brand.These highlight the complication of buying processes and the potential impacta brand could impose in between them.Several brands, under the influence of globalization and concerted efforts frommedia advertising, have become popular not only in their country of origin, butalso in other markets with high potential. Having a strong and remarkablebrand image could help establish an identity in marketplace (Aaker, 1996), 1
  8. 8. widen the profit margins, encourage greater intermediary co-operation as wellas increase the chance for further brand extension (Delgado-Ballester andMunuera-Aleman, 2005). In accordance with Delong et al. (2004), consumersappear to rely on the brand image as long as they have little knowledge aboutthe brand. In this way, managing brand image is of utmost importance. In orderto differentiate one brand from another, marketers would develop retail brandswith unique image so as to continue to gain popularity and market share(Abend, 2000; Ailawadi, 2001; Corstjens and Lal, 2000).The importance of brand image has inspired many marketing scholars andpractitioners to begin researching the concept of ‘brand equity’ (Aaker, 1991,1996; Keller, 1993, 1998, 2003). Under this concept, brands are regarded asvaluable assets which can help the companies generate lucrative revenues.In this paper, the concept of brand equity would be utilized as a theoreticalframework, which would be illustrated in the following chapters.1.2 Background information of China and the UK clothing marketsChina and the UK are entirely different in their economic structures. Being anadvanced developing country, China tends to be more dependent onlabour-intensive production activities rather than natural resource-basedactivities (Greenaway and Milner, 1993). This may probably explain why Chinais now becoming one of the most influential countries within the clothing sector.On the other hand, the UK has transformed from an industrial country to awell-developed country in the recent decades. The differences in theireconomies have triggered the interest of my study towards their consumerbuying behaviour in the clothing sector.1.2.1 China clothing marketThe clothing industry is one of the most important and hence heavily investedindustry in China, contributing to 74.16 billion US dollars in terms of exportvalue and leading it to become the second largest clothing export market in 2
  9. 9. 2005 (WTO, 2006). With the accession of World Trade Organization (WTO) in2001, the development of clothing industry in China becomes even muchfaster. It is believed that China could make use of its competitive advantages,for instances low labour costs and large portions of usable land, to furtherstrengthen its position in the clothing sector. Nowadays, China plays a role asa producer, wielding the techniques and human resources to finish the ordersplaced by the foreign counterparts. As stated by Cui (1997), China is known forthe manufacture of basic goods in large volumes and foreign registered brandsare often designed elsewhere and produced in China. It is undeniable that theentry of WTO would provide business opportunities for China. However, thiswould also engender intense competition since foreign firms are allowed to selltheir products directly to China. Chinese spending habitsAccording to a research conducted by the Hong Kong Trade DevelopmentCouncil (HKTDC) (2002), Chinese customers show divergent opinions withrespect to purchasing clothes. It is shown that they would prefer buyingmiddle-priced range clothes from Hong Kong and luxury brand-named clothesmade in foreign countries. However, the Grey China Base Annual ConsumerStudy (Bates, 1998) reveals that over two thirds of the consumers regarddomestic brands as their first priority. This points out the fact that a largemajority of Chinese is still in favor of domestic brands in low-priced range.The HKTDC (2002) research also reports on the average annual spending onclothing. On average, people spend 7.3% of their income on buying clotheswith women professionals having the highest demand and students’ spendingthe minimal amount. This disparity is probably due to the fact thatprofessionals have higher spending power than the students’. Regarding thecriteria for buying clothes, respondents rank fitness as their prime concern,followed by cutting, pricing, quality and finally trendiness. Chinese brands havecompetitive advantage in fitness and pricing (Delong et al., 2004), however, 3
  10. 10. people still tend to buy luxury clothes produced in the foreign markets. This ispossibly owing to the fact that Chinese brands are confined to low- tomiddle-priced range market without fully penetrating to the luxurious level.Such findings provide insights to the future development of local brands inChina. Impediments to China’s clothing brand developmentChina has competitive advantages in terms of production factors such as lowlabour costs and growing technology, however, the lack of globally influentialbrands is one of the main reasons why China lags behind in the clothingindustry with respect to brand development (Delong et al., 2004). According toa report published by Business Week (2007), none of the Chinese brands canenter the 100 Top Brands in 2006 (see Appendix 1) in which Nike was ranked31, followed by adidas in 71 and the Spain-found clothing company ZARA in 73.Lim and O’Cass (2001) explain that people in the west tend to have negativeperception towards brands from emerging economies and hence the numberof famous clothing brands in China is limited. Besides, Cui (1997) points outthat customers would only justify a brand through its image as long as theyknow little about it. This spells out the need for China to establish its ownbrands with good reputation.China has been connoted with the reputation of low-cost products in theoverseas markets for decades. The originally advantageous factors, however,become a major hindrance to the global brands’ development process. Schmittand Pan (1994) state that Chinese customers could not be able to differentiatebetween US and European apparel brands. Also, they often find Hong Kongand Taiwan brand names confusing. The lack of brand knowledge is probablyattributed to the geographical and political differences. However, suchconfusion does not affect the overall perception towards brands in othercountries. They tend to perceive US brands positively as US has a reputationin technological development and high fashion. When it comes to the case 4
  11. 11. about the perception of China-produced foreign brands, it is ironic that mostrespondents find that they are less authentic, regardless of their quality. Theimage of China-produced products needs improvement in this sense.According to a research reported by Hargrave-Silk (2005, March 25), nearlytwo thirds of the companies in China would like to establish their own globalbrand. The key motivation for doing so is to build up a global image so as toenhance the company’s international reputation and it is suggested that qualityis the major determinant for the overseas customers to make their buyingdecisions. With such impetus and the concerted effort from the industrymembers, the overall image of Chinese brands could become better in thefuture.1.2.2 UK clothing marketThe UK is a European country with population of around 60 million, which is 21times less than that of China (Economist.com, 2007). Regarding its GDPgrowth, because of its mature economic structure, it is pursuing a stable ratherthan aggressive GDP growth rate. In addition, the business services andfinance sector are the most important source of gross domestic products,contributing to nearly 30% of the total domestic products (Economist.com,2007). The manufacturing sector, including the clothing industry, pales incomparison with the development of the business sector and even has a signof recession in the recent decades. This can be revealed by the gradualdecline of employment rate within the UK clothing industry (Jones and Hayes,2004). British spending habitsSpending seems more welcome than saving among the British people.According to a research conducted by Weekes (2004), just around one-third offemale respondents and less than half of the male respondents express thatthey have the saving habits. Among the respondents, females are more likely 5
  12. 12. to spend on clothes than males, with nearly half of female respondents sayingthat they have at least one store card and nearly two-thirds of them own one ortwo loyalty cards. This may possibly explain why shopping is a genderedactivity (Dholakia, 1999; South and Spitze, 1994), and occasionally, womenmay even shop for men’s clothing (Dholakia, 1999).Store cards and loyalty cards are common promotional tactics to solicitconsumer’s loyalty. However, the same research shows that store cards maynot be regularly used even though special offers are often given to thecardholders (Weekes, 2004). This could be explained by the fact that storecards sometimes have much higher interest rates than that of the credit cardsand personal loans (Mintel, 2002). Characteristics of the UK clothing marketLike most of the developed economy, the UK clothing industry has shifted itsmanufacturing section to other countries with low labour costs and skilledlabour, leaving alone the design centre with well-trained designers. Such movecan probably account for the significant drop in employment rate and amountof output in the clothing sector (Jones, 2003). However, this is found to hinderthe development of British clothing design due to lack of manufacturingfacilities (Dagworthy, as cited in Carruthers, 2004).As far as the UK fashion retail sector is concerned, there is a trend for ownbrand development, concentrated markets, strong competitive activities, apolarized marketplace, short-life-cycle products, as well as fluctuatingconsumer demand (Marciniak and Bruce, 2004; Siddiqui et al., 2003). Asmentioned by Moore (1995), fashion retailers tend to create productdifferentiation in which they can distinguish themselves from their potentialcompetitors in terms of product features like design and price. Although the UKis overwhelmed with fashion brands, the market is characterized by productswith small differentiation (Birtwhistle and Freathy, 1998; Moore, 1995). In 6
  13. 13. addition, the retailing sector is fragmented, composing of independent,family-owed businesses and some large scale chain stores, with the later onecontributing to the largest proportion of market share (Easey, 2001; Marciniakand Bruce, 2004; Mintel, 2003). Compared with other retailed sector, thefashion retailing sector is found to incorporate the largest number ofindigenous chains such as Next plc (Marciniak and Bruce, 2004). Suchphenomena have stimulated the emergence of brand name development inthe competitive UK clothing market.1.3 Theoretical frameworkWith a well-known brand name, consumers would appear to be more likely topurchase the products in much higher prices. As far as the same level ofproduct quality is concerned, consumers would prefer buying brand-nameproducts (Bello and Holbrook, 1995). This phenomenon spells out the conceptof brand equity.According to Aaker (1991), brand equity is mainly derived from four elements,namely brand awareness, brand loyalty, perceived brand equity and brandassociations. The theoretical framework adopted in this dissertation would bebased on the concept of brand equity and the details of each element are to bediscussed and analyzed later in chapter four.1.4 Objectives of the dissertationThe aim of this dissertation is to investigate the effect of brand image onconsumer purchasing behaviour in clothing, with the comparison between theChinese and British consumers. Having found out the relationship betweenbrand image and consumer purchasing behaviour, marketers and practitionerscould devise strategies to increase the sales revenues.The clothing sector is particularly chosen in this research. As stated byBearden and Etzel (as cited in Hogg et al., 1998), clothing is a kind of public 7
  14. 14. necessity with weak reference group influence on the product category butstrong reference group influence on the brand choice. In this way, resultsobtained from the research on brand image could be more conspicuous.In addition, Chinese and British consumers are going to be compared in thisresearch since China and the UK have been targeted by many clothingretailers due to their enormous customer base. Famous clothing brands likeH&M and ZARA have already obtained their footholds in these two marketsthat underlie their significant contribution to these companies (H&M, 2007;ZARA, 2007). China, being an emerging country with high potential on clothingbrands, is on the lookout for extensions, whereas the UK is a mature market inwhich consumers are more experienced in purchasing brand-name clothes.The results of such comparison would offer meaningful insights for furtherbrand development in both China and the UK.Two assumptions are made throughout the dissertation. First, brand imageshould have an impact on the consumer buying behaviour of clothing andsecond, there are differences in buying behaviour for consumers in China andthe UK.1.5 Outline of the dissertationThe structure of the dissertation is shown as follows:Chapter 1 is the introductory section, containing the background information ofChina and the UK clothing industry, the research objectives and thedissertation outline.Chapter 2 will incorporate the review of previous studies, mainly concentratingon clothing industry and consumer buying behaviour. It is believed that thischapter could provide readers with general information like theories and issuesin relation to consumer buying behaviour for clothes so as to make them more 8
  15. 15. understandable in the forthcoming sections.Chapter 3 delineates the research methodology, focusing on the description ofresearch design and justification of data.Chapter 4 is the core of the dissertation in which research findings arepresented and discussed. Whether brand image would affect the consumerbuying behaviour in the clothing sector is shown and also the similarities anddifferences regarding the circumstances in China and the UK are investigated.Chapter 5 would draw conclusions on the findings from the previous chapters.Implications towards the business environment and research limitations arealso included. Recommendations would be made with regard to the limitationsso as to provide further directions in the future studies. 9
  16. 16. Chapter 2 Literature Review2.1 IntroductionConsumer behaviour refers to the activities in which people acquire, consumeand dispose products and services (Blackwell et al., 2001). Owing to theproliferation of brands in the recent decades, there is a growing number ofresearch conducted in the field of consumer buying behaviour. However, mostof them concentrate on a single country study, regardless of the importance ofcross-country comparisons which will inspire innovative ideas forunderstanding the fast-changing consumer habits. This dissertation is going toinvestigate the differences of British and Chinese in purchasing clothes underthe influence of brand image.In this chapter, the literatures concerning the roles of brand and brand equityare to be reviewed so as to provide a theoretical framework for theaforementioned analysis.Brand serves a pivotal role for distinguishing goods and services from those ofthe competitors (Aaker, 1991; Murphy, 1998). The emergence of brand equityunderlies the importance of brand in marketing tactics and hence providesuseful insights for managers and further research (Keller, 2003).2.2 The important roles of brandBrand is a name in every consumer’s mind (Mooij, 1998) and it ischaracterized by a noticeable name or symbol which can differentiate thegoods and services from the rivals’ (Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1998). In addition to aspecific brand name, a brand is also composed of products, packaging,promotion, advertising, as well as its overall presentation (Murphy, 1998).From the consumers’ perspective, brand is a guarantor of reliability and quality 10
  17. 17. in consumer products (Roman et al., 2005). Added to this, consumers wouldlike to buy and use brand-name products with a view to highlight theirpersonality in different situational contexts (Aaker, 1999; Fennis and Pruyn,2006).Nowadays, consumers have a wide range of choice to choose from when theyenter a shopping mall. It is found that consumers’ emotions are one of themajor determinants which affect their buying behaviour (Berry, 2000).According to a research conducted by Freeride Media LLC (1998) on shoppinghabits, nearly one-forth of the respondents are likely to impulse-buy clothesand accessories. When deciding which products to purchase, consumerswould have their preferences, which are developed in accordance with theirperceptions towards the brand. Successful branding could make consumersaware of the presence of the brand and hence could increase the chance ofbuying the company’s products and services (Doyle, 1999).2.2.1 The characteristics of successful brandsA brand can be an everlasting and lucrative asset as long as it is maintained ina good manner that can continue satisfying consumers’ needs (Batchelor,1998; Murphy, 1998). Although successful brands can be totally different innature, they share something in common, for instances well-priced productsand consistent quality (Murphy, 1998).As mentioned by Levitt (1983), there are four elements for building asuccessful brand, namely tangible product, basic brand, augmented brand andpotential brand. Tangible product refers to the commodity which meets thebasic needs of the customers. Basic brand, on the other hand, considers thepackaging of the tangible product so as to attract the attention from thepotential customers. The brand can be further augmented with the provision ofcredibility, effective after-sales services and the like. Finally and mostimportantly, a potential brand is established through engendering customer 11
  18. 18. preference and loyalty. By doing so, the image of the brand could be wellinstilled in the customers’ mind.2.3 Brand equityThe term ‘brand equity’ refers to a set of assets and liabilities associated with abrand, including its name and symbol, which could impose beneficial ordetrimental effects on the values arising from the products or services (Aaker,1991; Yasin et al., 2007). Added to this, Keller (1998) points out that brandequity signifies the unique marketing effects imposed on the brand.Concerning the positive side of brand equity, it happens when consumers arewilling to pay more for the same level of quality just because of theattractiveness of the name attached to the product (Bello and Holbrook, 1995).However, brand equity could be ruined if it is not properly managed. Forinstance, poor product quality and customer services could adversely affectthe brand image, giving rise to a reduction in sales volume.One of the quintessential examples regarding brand as a kind of equity is theimposition of laws to protect intellectual property (Murphy, 1998). In countrieswith well-established legal system, the values of brands have been recognizedto both the consumers and producers. In order to combat piracy, manycountries have set up laws to protect trade marks, patents, designs as well ascopyright. In addition, brand is also a tradable product with measurablefinancial value (Murphy, 1998). It is not uncommon to find some familiar brandslisted on the stock markets in which they could be bought or sold. Brands likeHSBC, Marks and Spencer, Vodafone, Sainsbury and Tesco are all listed onthe FTSE 100 index (London Stock Exchange, 2007). It is found that thevolatility of stock market could affect consumers’ purchasing mood, not tomention the growth or declines of retail sales (Blackwell, 2002). This issupported by the fact that brand equity depends on the number of people withregular purchase (Aaker, 1996). 12
  19. 19. The above examples highlight the values of brand equity for both consumersand the firm. For the consumers, brand equity could provide them withinformation about the brand which influences their confidence during thepurchasing process. There is a high propensity for consumers with goodperceptions to buy from the same shop again than those with poor perceptions.Past purchasing experiences and familiarity with the brand could beattributable to the perceptions generated from the consumers (Aaker, 1991).As for the firm, brand equity could also be a source for the firm to generatecash flow. For instance, the merger between adidas and Reebok in 2005 notonly increased their market share so as to compete with Nike in the US sportsapparel market, but also attracted more people to invest in the bigger companywith high potential (Business Week, 2005). Besides, brand equity could alsoallow higher margins through premium pricing and reduced reliance uponpromotional activities (Aaker, 1991). Owning to the positive image, consumersno longer focus on the short-term promotion but the brand on the whole.Brand equity is a broad concept which can be further subdivided into four mainareas, namely brand loyalty, name awareness, perceived quality and brandassociations (Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1998). These four main areas are to bediscussed in the coming sections.2.3.1 Brand awarenessBrand awareness is one of major determinants of brand equity. It refers to theability of a potential consumer to recall and recognize the brand, linking thebrand with its corresponding product class (Aaker, 1991). The level of brandawareness lies in a continuum, with brand recognition being the lowest leveland the first named brand with unaided recall being the highest level.It is important for the potential consumers to be aware of a product so that itcan become one of the purchasing choices. This is due to the fact that theproduct needs to enter the awareness set before it comes to the consideration 13
  20. 20. set (Blackwell et al., 2001) and an increase in brand awareness is conducive toa higher chance of entering the later set (Nedungadi, 1990). In this way,brands with higher level of awareness would be more likely to be purchased(Yasin et al., 2007). This could probably explain why consumers tend to buy arecognizable brand rather than an unfamiliar one (Hoyer, 1990; Macdonaldand Sharp, 2000).Several factors can alter the level of brand awareness. In case of China, itsgeographical location and politics could affect the consumer brand awarenesslevel seriously. According to research conducted by Delong et al. (2004),owing to geographical differences, Chinese consumers cannot distinguish USapparel brand names from the European ones. In addition, brands from Taiwanand Hong Kong are sometimes confused, due to their political separations. Forlong time, Taiwan would like to become politically independent from Chinaowing to their different political standpoint whereas Hong Kong, being a specialadministrative region since 1997, has once been a colony of the UK.As mentioned by Keller (1998), brand awareness can be enhanced throughrepeat exposure to the brand. In order to achieve brand awareness, two tasksare to be accomplished, namely increasing brand name identity andassociating it with the product class. Advertising and celebrity endorsementcould be some useful tools for raising brand awareness. It is found thatadvertisement attitude is attributable to the influence on brand attitudes,affecting consumer’s intention to purchase (Mackenzie et al., 1986; Tsai et al.,2007). In recent decades, there is an increasing number of advertisingcampaigns around the world. Consumers are hence well-equipped withcomparative elements to judge which product or service to purchase (Alvarezand Casielles, 2005). Moreover, celebrity endorsement can give rise to sourcecredibility and source attractiveness. For source credibility, as pointed out byMcGuire (1978), celebrities can disseminate messages to particularconsumers and hence increase the brand awareness. As for source 14
  21. 21. attractiveness, successful endorsement can associate the culture of thecelebrity world with the endorsed product (McCracken, 1989). This associationcan raise the public awareness towards the brand.2.3.2 Perceived qualityAnother important attribute to brand equity is perceived quality. It is defined asthe customer’s perception of the overall quality or superiority of a product orservice (Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1998; Yasin, 2007). Since it is a kind of intangible,overall feeling towards a brand, it is subjective in nature and hence theknowledge of actual detailed product specifications could have little correlationwith the perceived quality. Perceived quality of a brand could help generatevalues by providing a pivotal reason-to-buy, differentiating the position of abrand, charging premium price, motivating channel members to perform welland also introducing extensions into new brand categories (Aaker, 1991). Inaddition, it is found that perceived quality is of utmost importance indetermining brand loyalty as well as repeat purchase (Delong et al., 2004).Nevertheless, it is becoming more difficult to obtain satisfactory level ofperceived quality owing to the fact that fast and continuous productadvancement has already strengthened consumers’ expectations on productquality (Sherman, 1992).Similar to brand awareness, perceived quality is determined by a number offactors. To be more specific, perceived quality can further be classified intoproduct quality and service quality. Regarding product quality, there are sevendimensions which affect the consumers’ perception, namely performance,features, conformance with specifications, reliability, durability, serviceability aswell as fit and finish. Service quality, on the other hand, is judged by itscorresponding tangibles, reliability, competence, responsiveness and empathy(Aaker, 1991). In addition to the aforementioned dimensions, thecountry-of-origin of a product is found to affect its perceived quality(Khachaturian and Morganosky, 1990) and also the perceptions towards the 15
  22. 22. purchased value (Ahmed and d’Astou, 1993). As mentioned by Srikatanyooand Gnoth (2002), consumers are inclined to develop stereotypical beliefsabout the products from particular countries. Hence, consumers could havetheir preferences for products made from one country over another(Papadopoulos et al., 1991). Moreover, price is one of the important cues toevaluate perceived quality (Aaker, 1991). It is found that price is more relevantin judging the perceived quality of a product given that a person lacks theability to evaluate the quality of a product.2.3.3 Brand loyaltyBrand loyalty is one of the core components of brand equity and also positivelyand directly affected brand equity (Atilgan et al., 2005). Under the influence ofbrand loyalty, consumers continue to buy the brand, regardless of the superiorfeatures, prices and convenience owned by its competitors (Aaker, 1991). Themore loyal the consumers are towards the brand, the less vulnerable thecustomer base would be. Based on the practice that repeat buying is one ofthe indicators for brand loyalty, Keller (1998), however, challenges that suchmeasure may not be totally accurate. This is due to the fact that someconsumers make habitual purchase towards a particular brand just because ofits prominence in stock and effective promotions.For many companies, having loyal customers is a kind of blessing. Brandloyalty is regarded as valuable asset under different circumstances. First, itcan help reduce the marketing costs of doing business (Aaker, 1991). Loyalcustomers confer to a higher possibility of repeat purchases and it is lesscostly to keep customers than to get new ones. Second, loyalty to a brand canenhance trade leverage. Some consumers with strong affiliation to one brandwould switch to the shop in which a designated brand is sold. Third, loyalcustomers could influence the others to purchase the brand. This is typicallytrue when the product concerned is somewhat risky. In this case, consumersare assured to buy the product if they have some friends or relatives who 16
  23. 23. recommend the same model of product. This suggests why word-of-mouthcommunication is one of the most powerful tools in the marketplace (Henricks,1998; Marney, 1995; Silverman, 1997; Bansal and Voyer, 2000). Consumersusually depend on informal, as well as personal communication sources inmaking purchasing decision rather than more formal and organizationaladvertising campaigns (Bansal and Voyer, 2000). Finally, brand loyalty canhelp provide ample time for the firm to response to competitors’ newlylaunched products. Hence, the firm could make good use of the time lapse todevelop more superior products in order to compete with its rivals.Due to the values obtained from brand loyalty, many firms would devisedifferent strategies to maintain and enhance the loyalty from customers.According to Aaker (1991), it is important to treat the customer with respect inorder to keep them loyal. Moreover, customer satisfaction level needs to beproperly managed through conducting consumer research. Customers canalso be rewarded for their loyalty towards the firms so that they will continue tobuy the products. For instance, several airlines like Cathay Pacific, KLM andchain stores such as TOPMAN provide club-cards or loyalty cards to rewardtheir customers with discounts and other benefits.2.3.4 Brand associationThe last dimension for brand equity is brand association. It is defined as thespecific linkage between the memory and the brand (Aaker, 1991). Keller(1998) and Yasin et al. (2007) further note that equity of a brand is largelysupported by consumers’ associations towards the brand, which contribute toa specific brand image. Brand association is such a complicated concept thatconnects to one another, consisting of multiple ideas, episodes, examples, andfacts that create a brand knowledge network (Yoo et al., 2000). In addition tothe tangible products, the intangible qualities, for instances innovativeness anddistinctiveness are also taken into account as brand associations. 17
  24. 24. Keller (1993, 1998) further divides brand associations into three categories,namely attributes, benefits and attitudes. Attributes refer to the specificcharacteristics a product has. Attributes can be further categorized intoproduct-related attributes as well as non-product related attributes. Forproduct-related attributes, the overall features of the product or service areconcerned. As for non-product related attributes, price information, packaging,user imagery as well as usage imagery are to be considered. Benefits areanother category in brand associations. They can be classified into functional,experimental and symbolic. Function benefits signify the physical or basicadvantages a brand may have. For experimental benefits, they are related toconsumers’ emotional feelings. Symbolic benefits, on the other hand, refer tothe signal effect that a brand may impose on the consumers. Signal effect isdetermined by the image of consumers and also the personality of the brand.Consumers are attracted by the signal when they purchase a product in aparticular brand. Finally, attitudes are regarded as the consumers’ overallassessments towards a brand. They incorporate summary evaluations ofinformation which represent how consumers feel in a long run, lying in acontinuum from positive to negative (Gabbott and Hogg, 1998).Different brands have different associations to their prospective customers.Such kind of associations can provide bases for them to make purchasedecisions and even become loyal to the brand (Aaker, 1991). Associationstowards a brand can create value for the firm and so its customers in a numberof ways. First of all, they help the customers to process or retrieve information(Keller, 1998). Customers are sometimes forgetful and associations towards abrand serve as a brief summary for the customers to make their purchasingdecision. Associations can also be used to trigger the customers to recall theirpast experiences, making the customers remember the brand by heart.Second, brand associations can differentiate one brand from another. It isabout brand positioning that a well-positioned brand will find it hard to beattacked by its competitors due to its uniqueness. This can make the brand 18
  25. 25. unbeatable but it is quite difficult to achieve since consumer taste changesquite rapidly. Third, brand associations may include some product attributes orconsumer benefits which encourage the consumers to purchase the brand.Forth, some associations can engender positive feelings. For examples,adidas slogan ‘Impossible is nothing’, Madonna appearance in H&M’scollection advertisement can stimulate customers their positive feelings aboutthe products.Once brand associations are constructed in a meaningful way, a vivid brandimage is established. Brand image possibly affects how consumers perceivethe brand and hence their purchasing behaviour. There may be products onthe market with similar quality and design, however, the specific brand imageattached on a product may differentiate itself from the others, contributing to itshigher premium price.2.4 Consumer buying behaviourMany people do consume a wide range of products every day, from basicnecessities to high-valued collectables. Owing to the proliferation of productsin the market, such phenomenon is one of the most interesting and henceheavily investigated topics in the marketing field. As mentioned by Schiffmanand Kanuk (2000), consumer behaviour is about how people make theirdecisions on personal or household products with the use of their availableresources such as time, money and effort. Gabbott and Hogg (1998) andBlackwell et al. (2006) further provide a holistic view that defines consumerbehaviour as the activities and the processes in which individuals or groupschoose, buy, use or dispose the products, services, ideas or experiences.The study of consumer buying behaviour is of utmost importance in a numberof aspects. First of all, consumer behaviour can influence the economic healthof a nation (Blackwell et al., 2006). Consumers would have their preferences inpurchasing products from specific retailers and hence the remaining retailers 19
  26. 26. are selected using the rule of ‘survival of the fittest’. Therefore, consumers’decisions can provide a clue for which industry to survive, which companies tosucceed, and also which products to excel. Second, through understanding thereasons for consumers to buy the products and their buying habits, the firmscan make use of such information to devise corresponding marketingstrategies in response to the consumers’ needs (Blackwell et al., 2006). Forinstance, tailor-made products can be made to enhance customer value andthus facilitate repeat purchase (Gabbott and Hogg, 1998). Moreover, presentconsumer behaviour studies regard consumers as important determinants oforganizational success and it is found that the most successful organizationsare customer-centric (Blackwell et al., 2006). The notion ‘the consumer is king’should be deep-rooted in every business people’s mind that they should try toplease these kings using their innovative methods.2.4.1 Models of consumer behaviourSeveral models are developed with a view to provide explanations for theconsumer buying behaviours. Although they vary in form of presentation, mostof them are composed of stages such as pre-purchase, purchase andpost-purchase (Hoyer and Maclnnis, 2001; Rayport and Jaworski, 2003).Blackwell et al. (2001) define consumer behaviour as a summation ofacquisition, consumption and disposal of products or services. However,such definition falls short of the continuity of the processes. Based on thisloophole, Arnoud et al. (2004) further propose the circle of consumption thatrecognize purchasing processes as a loop, comprising acquisition of goodsand services, consumption, as well as disposal of used goods.As far as the consumer decision process model is concerned, consumers needto go through seven steps before reaching their final decisions. These sevensteps include need recognition, search for information, pre-purchase,evaluation, purchase, consumption, post-consumption evaluation and 20
  27. 27. divestment (Blackwell et al., 2006). Rayport and Jaworski (2003) propose asimilar model with slight differences regarding the terms used. Blackwell et al.(2006) add that most consumer research would primarily base on these sevenstages and how different elements affect each stage of consumers’ decisions,regardless of the different terms and consolidation of stages.Stage one is need recognition which occurs when an individual is aware of adifference between their perception and the actual satisfaction level (Solomonet al., 2006). The buying process is initiated when people recognize theirunsatisfied need (Levy and Weitz, 1992). There are two kinds of needs,namely functional needs and psychological needs. Functional needs arerelated to the performance of the product whereas psychological needs areintrinsically obtained when customers feel contented with shopping or owninga product which they long for.Stage two is the search of information. The length and depth of search vary fordifferent customers and depend on variables like personality, social class,income, size of purchase, past experiences, prior brand perceptions (Moorthyet al., 1997), as well as customer satisfaction. As mentioned by Solomon et al.(2006), search of information can further be divided into pre-purchase searchand ongoing search. Pre-purchase search is initiated when consumersrecognize a need and hence look for more information from the marketplace.Ongoing search, on the other hand, is more likely to be based on personalinterest on a particular brand. Customers pursuing this kind of search wouldlike to obtain the most updated information about the designated brand.Stage three comes to the pre-purchase evaluation that consumers comparebetween different products and brands to make a purchasing decision. In thisstage, consumers pay particular attention to the attributes which are mostrelevant to their needs (Kolter et al., 2005). Attributes like quantity, size, qualityand price are commonly used to judge a brand by customers. Any changes in 21
  28. 28. these attributes can affect consumer decisions on brand or product choices(Blackwell et al., 2006). According to Porter (2004), firms can create value byproviding lower price or unique offers to the customers so as to excel theircompetitive advantages over the others.Stage four refers to the purchase decisions made by the consumers afterevaluating the offers from different retailers. As stated by Blackwell et al.(2006), there are two phases contributing to the decision making processes,including retailer and in-store selection. Retailer selection is made by judgingwhich retailers to buy after investigating the attributes from the previous stagewhereas in-store selection is affected by the selling skills of salesperson, visualdisplays inside the shops, as well as point-of-purchase advertising. In additionto in-store purchase, Rayport and Jaworski (2003) further point out thesignificant impact of internet on consumer purchasing decision. As pointed outby Dholakia and Uusitalo (2002), this new kind of non-shop retailing format hasbegun replacing the fairly established catalogue and TV shopping and itsdevelopment is rapid albeit it is more recently found in comparison with theexisting non-shop retailing modes.Stage five, stage six and stage seven are under the category of thepost-purchase stage. In stage five, customers begin consuming the productswhereas in stage six, customers evaluate the consumption process. This givesrise to satisfaction when consumers’ expectations are higher than theperceived performance and vice versa (Blackwell et al., 2006). Last but notleast, stage seven comes to divestment, in which consumers dispose orrecycle the products and at the same time. The firms need to think about thepossibility of remarketing. This stage is crucial since customers could bepossible to make repeat purchases provided that they are satisfied with theaforementioned stages (Rayport and Jaworski, 2003). 22
  29. 29. 2.5 SummaryThis chapter provides a review about the major research and theoriesregarding the consumer purchasing behaviour. Brands are so important thatthey are regarded as the equity to a firm. Brand equity can be divided into fourdimensions, including brand awareness, perceived quality, brand loyalty andbrand associations. All of them have significant contribution to the brand asequity to the firm.Nowadays, consumers seem to be more aware of the products they buy, andat the same time, products are developed in an unprecedented way. Only byunderstanding the consumer behaviour can the products or brands bedeveloped in a right way. In this dissertation, whether the brand image wouldaffect the consumers to purchase clothes is to be investigated. It is hoped thatby finding out the relationships of brand awareness, perceived quality, brandloyalty and brand association with the consumer purchasing behaviour that willprovide useful insights for the development of the clothing sector. 23
  30. 30. Chapter 3 Methodology3.1 IntroductionWith a view to finding out the underlying principles of certain phenomenon,research is required. In terms of the science of knowledge acquisition,epistemology is about the science of knowing, whereas methodology isacknowledged to be the science of finding out (Babbie, 2004). During thecourse of consumer behaviour research, data are gathered, recorded andanalyzed in a systematic and objective manner so as to apprehend andforesee how consumers feel, think and behave (Arnould et al., 2004).In general, there are two types of research methods, namely qualitative andquantitative research. Each of them encompasses a variety of approaches,which are determined on the kinds of data being collected. This chapter aimsat discussing different theories and research methods, as well as justifying themost suitable approach for the research topic. The details of the samplingwould also be discussed.3.2 Theoretical backgroundsIn this section, the research traditions, theories, and also the validity andreliability of data are discussed in order to provide a general view about howthe research is carried out and which factors influence the justification ofresearch method.3.2.1 Review of different research traditionsBased on the methodology used, research theories can be classified intodifferent types. In accordance with Gephart (2004), there are three researchtraditions, namely positivism, interpretive research and critical postmodernism. 24
  31. 31. Positivism makes use of the stance of realism in which the objective reality canbe understood by mirror of science. Added to this, it assumes that a socialworld exists externally that should be measured objectively (Easterby-Smith etal., 2002). In accordance to Fisher (2004), the majority of positivist researchincorporates the comparison of qualitative case studies to analyze if there areany connections between variables.While positivism stresses on objectivity, interpretative research focuses onsubjective interpretations to describe meanings and understand reality. Fisher(2004) notes that the linkage between interpretations are dialogic and henceinterpretive research aims at soliciting people’s accounts of how they find theworld, together with the structures and processes within it.As for critical postmodernism, it underlines the assumption of symbolic reality,which is shaped by values and crystallizes over time. Fisher (2004) furtherreveals that critical postmodernism is a kind of realism which comprises threelevels of reality, including experiences, events and mechanisms. Experiencesare our perceptions and encounters of the world. Events are concerned aboutwhat has happened in the world by our experiences to them. Finally,mechanisms are the roots of events which are regarded as the deepest levelamong the three.3.2.2 Quantitative versus qualitative analysisGenerally, research methods can be classified in a dichotomy betweenquantitative and qualitative research. As far as the description and explanationof phenomena are concerned, quantitative research focuses on analyzingnumerical data whereas qualitative research deals with meanings, examiningthe attitudes, feelings and motivations of people (Babbie, 2004; Dey, 1993). Inthe field of research, qualitative research is sometimes regarded as a relativelyminor methodology than its quantitative counterpart and there are someassumptions that only experimental data, official statistics, random sampling 25
  32. 32. and quantified data can lead to valid or generalizable social facts. That is why itis suggested that qualitative research should be used more often at the earlyor exploratory stage of a study (Silverman, 2000). Nevertheless, both of themare not perfect in a sense that they need to serve as a complement to eachother. As suggested by Easterby-Smith et al. (2002), research needs apartnership and it could be beneficial to collaborate rather than competebetween the different kinds of research methods.Both the quantitative research and qualitative research have their ownadvantages and disadvantages. Quantitative research surpasses qualitative ina sense that it can analyze data based on representative samples from a largepopulation (Proctor, 2000), having a complete set of categorization for theevents or activities described (Silverman, 2000). In this way, quantitativeanalysis is stronger than qualitative analysis in that it can persuade readerswith large-scale, numeric data.As for qualitative research, it is more likely to look into people’s in-depthfeelings, for example, attitude (Kirk and Miller, 1986). Unlike quantitativeresearch, which uses ad hoc procedures to define and measure variables(Blumer, 1956; Cicourel, 1964; Silverman, 1975), qualitative research tends tofocus on describing the process of how we define and measure variables ineveryday life (Silverman, 2000). Qualitative analysis, however, suffers from theproblem of ‘anecdotalism’ in which it just narrates some examples ofphenomenon without taking less clear data into account (Silverman, 1989).Besides, the reliability of tape-recorded and transcribed data is argued bysome to be weakened owing to the possibility of missing some trivial butcrucial pauses and overlaps (Silverman, 2000).3.2.3 Reliability and validity of dataThe reliability and validity of the data and findings are of pivotal importance tothe whole research. These determine whether the research can engender 26
  33. 33. useful findings or not.Reliability connotes to the consistency on the research results, which arejudged by different observers or by the same observer on different occasions(Hammersley, 1992). As pointed out by Davis and Bremner (2006), to justifyreliability, one can replicate the same research to see whether the sameoutcomes are obtained on subsequent occasions. While reliability is correlatedto consistency, validity concerns about the truth (Silverman, 2000), giving anaccurate account to the social phenomena (Hammersley, 1992). However, it isfound that having reliable research results is not always attributable to validoutcomes (Davis and Bremner, 2006).This dissertation makes use of the qualitative research method and there havebeen some discussions on qualitative research regarding its reliability andvalidity. As mentioned by Saunders et al. (2003), the findings of qualitativeresearch are not necessarily repeatable since they reflect reality at the time ofdata collection. This may affect the reliability of the research findings. Besides,the research cannot be claimed valid so long as there are only few exemplaryinstances reported, and the original form of the materials is unavailable(Silverman, 2000). These underlie the importance of ensuring reliable methodsand making valid conclusions in the research process.3.3 Justification of research methodDifferent research methods should be adopted based on the nature ofresearch. This dissertation aims at finding out consumer purchasing behaviouron clothing in which their beliefs, opinions and attitudes towards brand imageare investigated. Hence, qualitative research is more suitable in terms ofsoliciting the consumers’ in-depth responses.As mentioned by Tesch (1990), there are as much as forty types of qualitativeresearch in three main orientations, namely language-orientated approach, 27
  34. 34. descriptive/ interpretative approach, as well as theory-building approach.Language-oriented approach concerns the use of language and meaning ofwords. In descriptive/ interpretative approach, the thorough description andinterpretation of social phenomena are the central focus. Finally,theory-building approach tries to examine the connections between socialphenomena. Based on the descriptive and interpretive nature in this research,interviews are chosen as the data collection methods. Qualitative interviewsrefer to the interaction between an interviewer and interviewee on a topicwhich needs not to follow particular order and words in questioning andanswering (Babbie, 2004). During the course of interviews, interviewers mayneed to probe each answer and make use of the replies for further questioning(Proctor, 2000).One may argue why interviews but not the other types of qualitative researchmethods are chosen in this research. For instance, focus group can also be auseful kind of research method that brings together some interviewees, say12-15 people, in a room to engage in a guided discussion on a common topic(Babbie, 2004). Although focus groups are much more effective and cheaperthan interviews as one may see, researchers may find it difficult to assemble alarge group of people and the control over the interviewees is minimal(Gamson, 1992). Thus, interviews are more controllable than focus groups inthis regard. Added to this, Breakwell (2006) points out that interviews areflexible in that they can be used at any stage in the research process, rangingfrom the initial stage for identifying areas to more detailed exploration.However, Proctor (2000) notes that the usefulness of qualitative researchdepends heavily on the researchers’ skills. In case of interviews, researchersshould show their ability to ask further in-depth questions based on theanswers obtained.The structure of interviews lies in a continuum in which fully-structured andunstructured interviews are the two extreme poles (Breakwell, 2006). 28
  35. 35. Structured interviews are characterized by their fixed nature and sequence ofquestions or the fixed nature of answers allowed. Interviewees may find thesekind of interviews constrained as they are not free to provide information whichis important in their mind. Unlike structured interviews, unstructured interviewsdo not have specific formats, leaving more room for the interviewees torespond. Among different structures of interviews, semi-structured interviewsare chosen in this research. As pointed out by Smith and Osborn (2003), withthe use of a semi-structured format, researchers tend to regard people asexperiential experts on a specific topic under investigation. Such format canenhance the sensitive and empathic facets of the findings, underlying theimportance human-to-human relationship of interviews (Fontana and Fry,2000). Moreover, researchers can follow up some unexpected, interestingresponses emerged during the interviews. This can enrich the data collectedfrom the interviewing process (Smith and Eatough, 2006).When it comes to the process of data collection, like other self-report methods,interviews depend on respondents’ accurate and complete responses. Thisgives rise to the possibility of unreliable and invalid data. In accordance withBreakwell (2006), it is important to develop a systematic set of questions andhelp the interviewees to understand the questions. These can help solicitconsistent responses and hence the reliability of data can be much enhanced.Being reliable does not necessarily attribute to validity but it is found thatinconsistent responses may lead to certain inaccuracy (Davis and Bremner,2006). It is suggested that interviews could be complemented with other typesof data such as observation and diary techniques so that the data obtained canbe more valid. In addition, it is suggested that interviewers be trained for aspecific study if necessary since their manner in questioning could impose aneffect on how reliable and valid the data will be (Proctor, 2000).3.4 SamplingAs far as the sampling method is concerned, non-probability sampling is used 29
  36. 36. as the tool for this research. Unlike probability sampling which select samplesrandomly in a pool of population, non-probability sampling looks forparticipants on purpose (Babbie, 2004). In this research, as comparisons ofBritish and Chinese buying behaviour for clothes are investigated, 10Nottingham University students were chosen to have face-to-face interviews.This is a combination of quota sampling and convenience sampling under thenon-probability sampling classifications. As mentioned by Proctor (2000), inquota sampling method, researchers deliberately look for participants so thatthey are of equal distribution for comparison whereas in convenience sampling,researchers tend to choose interviewees which are easier to be looked for.Among the 10 samples, equal proportions of British and Chinese wereinterviewed. All of them are students aged between 22 and 28. The male tofemale ratio of Chinese and British samples is 1 to 1 (see Table 1 for details). 9of them are master students and the remaining one is a PhD student. Thecriteria for judging whether they are Chinese or British customers are based onthe passports they are holding together with the number of years they havelived in their home country. They should have lived in China or the UK for longenough time than in other places that they are regarded as Chinese or British.Student samples are used in this research because they can enhancehomogeneity and it is much easier to control error during theory testing(Goldsmith, 2002; Malhotra and King, 2003). Moreover, findings reveal thathomogeneous respondents can help reduce the possibility of measurementmodel error (Assael and Keon, 1982). Hence, though a homogeneous samplehas lesser degree of external validity, this can be sacrificed for a greaterdegree of internal validity (Carpenter and Fairhurst, 2005). 30
  37. 37. Table 1: Distribution of samples in terms of gender and nationality Nationality Chinese BritishSample particularsGender Male Female Male FemaleNumber of respondents 2 3 3 23.5 Interview scheduleThe interview is composed of three stages, which are discussed in thefollowing sections. There are two types of questions, namely open-endedquestions and closed-ended questions, with the former one being dominant inthe interview (see Appendix 2). Open-ended questions are preferred sincethey allow the interviewees to answer as little or as much as they choose,leaving more room for them to think of the issue (Breakwell, 2006). Thequestions may not follow the order as set in the interview schedule as therespondents will react to them differently. Also, the questions were learnt byheart before the interviews. As mentioned by Smith and Eatough (2006), it isbetter to have mental prompts rather than constantly referring to the interviewquestions in the course of the interview.3.5.1 Stage oneIn this stage, the main theme of the interview was introduced with the provisionof general ideas about what the interviewees were expected to answer. Theapproximate length of the interview, say 30 minutes, was mentioned. Theissues relating to confidentiality and record permission were alreadymentioned at the time when the appointment was made, so they were notcovered here.After the introduction, the interview began with some general questionsregarding consumer spending habits on clothing. As suggested by Smith andEatough (2006), a successful interview incorporates both general and specificquestions which will move between each other fairly seamlessly. Questions 1 31
  38. 38. to 3 attempt to serve as ice-breaking as the interviewees may not be preparedto answer in-depth questions at the very beginning of the interview. Moreover,these can help understand their spending styles.There are three questions in this stage and they are listed as follows:1. How often do you buy clothes?2. How much do you spend on clothing each month?3. Which categories of clothes do you usually buy?3.5.2 Stage twoThis stage covers in-depth questions about their views to clothing brand image.Main issues covered in the literatures in chapter 2, including brand and brandequity, were discussed. In order to explore more information from interviewees’responses, probing questions were asked if needed. The questions in thisstage are as follows.Question 4 attempts to find out the criteria of clothes selection in which theinterviewees consider. It also intends to investigate whether brand is animportant criterion for consumers to choose particular products to purchase asmentioned in the literature (Doyle, 1999; Mooij, 1998). Since this research isabout the effect of brand image on consumer purchasing behaviour, furtherprobing questions would be asked if the respondents mention somethingrelated to brand and brand equity.4. What is it about particular clothes that make you buy them?Questions 5 to 10 are brand equity-related questions. As mentioned in theliteratures, brand equity is regarded as the summation of brand awareness, 32
  39. 39. perceived quality, brand loyalty and brand association (Aaker, 1991; Keller,1993). These questions are to find out whether brand equity is as important aswhat has been noted in the literatures.5. In what ways do you usually learn about clothing brands?6. How do you judge the quality of the clothes?7. Do you regularly buy the same brand of clothes?8. Do you recommend brands?9. Can you describe the image of your favorite brand?10. Why do you like this brand?Question 11 asks for the interviewees’ opinions about the new emerging onlineshopping mode whereas question 12 is about their post-purchase actions theytook towards the clothes they had purchased. As mentioned in someconsumer behaviour models, there are three stages for purchasing products orservices, including pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase (Blackwell et al.,2006; Rayport and Jaworski, 2003). After finding out what the intervieweeswould do before making their purchasing decisions from the aforementionedquestions, these two questions try to figure out their purchase andpost-purchase behaviour.11. Do you shop online for clothes?12. What would you do if you are satisfied or dissatisfied about the clothes you purchase? 33
  40. 40. 3.5.3 Stage threeIn the last stage of the interview, the interviewees were asked to write asentence which starts with the words ‘Brand is’. This serves as a summary ofhow interviewees perceive brands by providing their own definitions which maybe similar or different from what is said in the literature. After the intervieweeshave finished writing the sentence, they would be thanked for providing theirvaluable time to attend the interview.3.6 AdministrationThe interviews were conducted in the places such as rooms in the studentaccommodations or common areas in the university where the intervieweesfelt comfortable to answer the questions. They lasted for approximately 20 to30 minutes, depending on the interviewees’ familiarity to the questions andtheir willingness to provide more fruitful responses. The processes wererecorded with the use of MP3 player with the approval from the interviewees soas to facilitate the subsequent analysis. The interviews were then transcribed.The production and the use of transcripts are essential research activities thatthey involve close, repeated listening to the records which often reveal someunnoted recurring features, possibly attributing to important research findings(Atkinson and Heritage, 1984).3.7 Analysis strategyThis section introduces the concept of grounded theory and the use ofwithin-case and cross-case analysis as the strategies for analyzing theresearch data.3.7.1 Grounded theory and its relationship to qualitative data analysisGrounded theory is one of the important concepts suggesting how researcherconducts their research. Originated from two socialists Glaser and Strauss(1967), it attempts to derive theories based on the analysis of patterns, themes,and common categories from observational data (Babbie, 2004). It focuses on 34
  41. 41. different ways to code data (Dey, 1993). In addition, based on grounded theory,methodology skills can be developed in a number of areas such as handlingand analyzing of large volumes of ill-structured, qualitative data as well asinterpretative thematic analysis of the qualitative data. Hence, these couldexplain why grounded theory has gained much popularity in recent decades(Henwood and Pidgeon, 2006). As mentioned by Strauss and Corbin (1990),researchers could be both scientific and creative at the same time under thistheory, provided that they follow three rules. They include periodically steppingback and asking, maintaining an attitude of skepticism, as well as following theresearch procedures.Grounded theory does have some impact on the qualitative research.According to Easterby-Smith et al. (2002), one of the benefits of groundedanalysis is that qualitative research structure has first been derived from thedata, leading to further analysis of themes, patterns and categories. Besides, itdemonstrates some main strategies of qualitative inquiry that contain creativeinterplay of theories and methods during the integrated process of socialresearch (Henwood and Pidgeon, 2006).The importance of research procedures is heightened in the grounded theory,especially the use of systemic coding, which can enhance the validity andreliability of the data (Babbie, 2004). There are seven stages for groundedanalysis in total, including familiarization, reflection, conceptualization,cataloguing concepts, re-coding, linking and finally re-evaluation(Easterby-Smith et al., 2002). These imply the seriousness of such theory ininterpreting data and provide the basis for analyzing the ten interviewsconducted.3.7.2 Within-case and cross-case analysisAs mentioned by Miles and Huberman (1994), interviews can be analyzed intwo distinctive but interrelated ways, namely within-case and cross-case 35
  42. 42. analysis. In this dissertation, the interviews conducted were investigated basedon these two approaches. The summary of these two approaches is shown inFigure 1. Within-case analysis Listening to tape and producing a transcript Coding the transcript Analyzing data with tables in codes and quotes Looking for patterns from similar and different responses Creating tables based on responses from interviewees Cross-case analysis Figure 1: Overview of analysis3.7.2.1 Within-case analysisDuring the interviews, notes were first jotted down and then the summary ofeach individual interview was made after listening to the MP3 recorder for thesake of keeping the fresh memory of the interview content. A full transcriptionof each interview (see Appendix 3) was made after the completion of the wholeinterview process. After finishing the transcription, the main ideas of theinterviews were summarized and presented in form of tables with codes like ‘+’standing for interviewee who has mentioned this idea, whilst ‘-‘ connoting to anegative response to the question. Some quotes from the answers would be 36
  43. 43. illustrated for explanation if necessary. Cross-case analysisCross-case analysis aims at looking for convergences and divergences in thedata, recognizing ways to account for the similarities and differences of therespondents (Smith and Eatough, 2006; Smith and Osborn, 2003). Eachinterview was analyzed in the same way as mentioned in the within-caseanalysis. Then the patterns emerged were analyzed based the several tablesin different themes.3.8 SummaryIn this chapter, the methodology used in this dissertation has been justified andexplained. Qualitative semi-structured interviews have been chosen as a meanto collect data since they are found to be more appropriate for solicitingresponses in relation to attitudes, opinions and feelings. Besides, the samplingmethod was covered. In the course of data collection, the combination ofconvenience and quota sampling was being used. In addition, the schedule ofinterview was discussed with a view to providing some general ideas about theunderlying reasons for asking such questions. The data collected would beanalyzed using the methods of within-case and cross-case analysis. Theresearch findings will be presented and discussed in the next chapter. 37
  44. 44. Chapter 4 Research Findings and Discussion4.1 IntroductionThis chapter aims at presenting and discussing findings obtained from theinterviews concerning the effect of clothing brand image on consumerpurchasing behaviour. As mentioned in chapter 3, 10 people, including 5British and 5 Chinese were interviewed. Each interview was recorded andtranscribed for the purpose of analysis in this chapter.As far as the analysis is concerned, it will be based on the most pertinentquotes, which reveal the viewpoints from the British and Chinese respondentsrespectively. According to Easterby-Smith et al. (2002), qualitative researchersneed to communicate the findings in an honest and systematic manner,disseminating the richness of the findings and hence the experience of theresearchers. In addition, the analysis should be open to verification as far aspossible so that the others are free to repeat what has been done and checkthe conclusions (Breakwell, 2006).The chapter consists of three sections in which the respondents’ backgrounds,the effect of brand image on them and also their opinions of brand arepresented and compared.4.2 Backgrounds of respondentsAll respondents are students from the University of Nottingham, with nine ofthem being master students and one of them being a PhD student. Their agesrange from 22 to 27 and the male to female ratio is 1 to 1.The first three questions try to solicit the interviewees’ response about theirclothing spending habits, asking about their shopping frequency, money spent 38
  45. 45. on clothes and also the types of clothes they purchased. Generally, manyrespondents revealed that they buy clothes at a regular interval, ranging fromevery week to three or four times a year. One of them was slightly different inthat she indicated that she is an impulsive buyer and hence she would buyclothes based on her moods and feelings at the time of purchase. This couldprobably be explained by the findings mentioned in chapter 2 that consumers’emotion is one of the determining factors for buying clothes (Berry, 2000).“I’m a sort of impulsive buyer…’Oh gosh! I really need to buy some clothesnow, let’s go’.” Narinder, 27, British, FemaleBesides, some of them pointed out that their financial status would have animpact on their frequency of buying clothes. One of the respondents revealedthat he preferred buying clothes at special occasions like seasonal discountsso that the prices can be much more affordable. These are in line with theliterature that students spend less than the other groups like working class asfar as clothes purchasing is concerned (HKTDC, 2002).“…This year…not at all (buying clothes). Because I have been poor. But beforethat, maybe one item every couple of month.” Hannah, 24, British, Female“…Maybe not often recently because I have not got a lot of income for clothes,so I’ll buy them when I need them…probably, buy every 4 to 5 months, quiterare.” Mark, 23, British, Male“In China, normally I buy clothes 4 times a year (for each season). In England,maybe 3 times a year, I will buy clothes if there are discounts.” Kevin, 23, Chinese, Male 39
  46. 46. When asking about the price range of clothes, more than half of them werefond of buying clothes in the medium or high price ranges. Although it ismentioned in the literature that more females would like shopping than males(Dholakia, 1999; South and Spitze, 1994), it does not really mean that maleshave less spending power. More male than female respondents manifestedthat they would buy clothes in medium or above price ranges. One of the malerespondents revealed that he would spend about 50 to 250 pounds for clotheseach time, targeting to buy clothes in medium to high price ranges.“Probably, it varies anywhere between 50 to 250 pounds. It really gets a largevariation. Sometimes, I buy lots of clothes and it lasts me for half a year…” Neil, 24, British, MaleThe above quotes illustrate that clothes purchasing behaviour varies from timeto time and from person to person. There could be two identical clothes in theworld, however, the reasons why people buy them vary. It could be as simpleas they are cheap and good looking or they are brand-named. As mentioned inchapter 2, brand names can add tremendous value to the products, retailers,as well as consumers (Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1993). In the coming section,whether brand image would affect clothes purchasing behaviour isinvestigated, with more emphasis being placed on the comparisons betweenBritish and Chinese consumers so as to provide new insights for furtherdevelopment of brands in the clothing sector.4.3 Effect of clothing brand image on consumer buying behaviour4.3.1 Significance of clothing brands on consumer purchasing decisionsAs mentioned previously in chapter 2, brand is important for productdevelopment in that it can be instilled in consumers’ minds (Mooij, 1998) andhence it could have a beneficial or detrimental effect on customers’ buyingdecisions (Yasin et al., 2007). Whether brand is a determining factor is 40
  47. 47. examined in question 4, in which the respondents were asked about the reasons of buying particular clothes. The results from both British and Chinese respondents are illustrated in Tables 2 and 3 accordingly. The columns named ‘country of origin’ and ‘advert’ would be discussed in later sections. Table 2: Determining factors for clothes purchasing (British respondents) Reason Brand Country Advert Quality Style Price Others Name of originHannah Comfortable;Smith - - - + + + Non-labelMark Non-advertMorrison - - - + + +Neil FunctionalBowley + - - + + + use (Sports)NarinderSandhu + - - + + +Michael PersonalKosciukiewicz + - - + + + need Table 3: Determining factors for clothes purchasing (Chinese respondents) Reason Brand Country Advert Quality Style Price Others Name of originJovi Comfortable;Chong + - - + + + SuitableVivianLi + + + + + +Vanessa Pleasant;Fang + + + + + + IntuitionAlickWong + - - + + +KevinFang + - + + + + Key +/- or words in black: Initial response without prompt; +/- or words in blue: Response with prompt 41
  48. 48. As observed from Tables 2 and 3, all respondents from both nations regardquality, style and price as some of the determining factors for buying clothes. Inthis regard, the findings from literature that Chinese find these three asimportant criteria for buying clothes (HKTDC, 2002) seem also applicable tothe UK respondents.When it comes to the effect of brand on buying clothes, nine out of tenrespondents had not provided immediate answer to question 4 regarding thisissue until prompt was given. Moreover, the British and Chinese intervieweesshowed some divergent viewpoints.Some of the UK respondents revealed that they look for brand names inbuying clothes, in which one of them highlighted the importance of pastshopping experiences as mentioned in the literature (Aaker, 1991). However,two UK interviewees stated that brand names do not initiate them to buy duringtheir shopping.“Yes. If I have good experiences with something, I probably buy again.Because I know it a little bit good quality or that it’s going to be last well orperform well.” Neil, 24, British, Male“Well, I wouldn’t buy something because it’s from H&M or because it’s fromZARA. They are probably the shops I like. I wouldn’t specifically buy it becauseit’s from there.” Mark, 23, British, Male“Never. Well, I mean I will buy clothes from a shop. Actually, I bought it (shepoints at her top) yesterday from NEXT, but I do not particularly look for brandnames.” Hannah, 24, British, Female 42
  49. 49. All Chinese respondents found that brand is one of the key factors for them toconsider when buying clothes. One of them mentioned that reputable brands inmedium to high price ranges connote to better quality and cutting. This isconsistent with the literature that brand-named products can be served as aguarantor of reliability, as well as quality (Roman et al., 2005). In addition, oneof them pointed out that brands can help change her personal style, which iscoherent with the literature that brands are used to highlight personality underdifferent circumstances (Aaker, 1999; Fennis and Pruyn, 2006).“I do think most of the brands, like medium- to high-priced brands, do havebetter quality than cheaper brands, so I have more faith in those brands fortheir clothes. I think they mostly get better cutting and better quality.” Jovi, 24, Chinese, Female“Yes. For some T-shirts, I bought some big brands like designer labels. Butrecently, I changed my purchasing habits to some cheap stuff like Primark,H&M and Dorothy Perkins…It’s quick for me to dislike the clothes that I bought.So, if I buy too many big brands, it costs me too much; if I buy cheap ones, Ican use less money, and buy more clothes to change. It can be in consistentwith my changing look and just lower the cost.” Vanessa, 26, Chinese, FemaleBased on the above findings, it seems that brands are more likely to have animpact on Chinese than British interviewees. The UK respondents tend to buyclothes they like but not merely because of the brands.4.3.2 Brand awarenessAs mentioned in the literature, brand can make potential consumers aware ofthe products (Aaker, 1991). This issue was examined through asking thequestion ‘In what ways do you usually learn about clothing brands?’ There aremainly four ways for the respondents to learn about the brands, including 43
  50. 50. advertisement, peers, internet and shops. The results are shown in Tables 4and 5. Table 4: Ways to learn about clothing brands (British respondents) Name Advert Peers Others Hannah Smith - - Mark From shops Morrison - + Neil From shops; Bowley + + Internet Narinda From shops Sandhu - - Michael From shops Kosciukiewicz - + Table 5: Ways to learn about clothing brands (Chinese respondents) Name Advert Peers Others Jovi Internet Chong - + Vivian Li + - Vanessa Internet Fang + + Alick Internet Wong - + Kevin From shops Fang + + Key +/- or words in black: Initial response without prompt; +/- or words in blue: Response with promptAdvertisement is a powerful tool for raising brand awareness (Mackenzie et al.,1986; Tsai et al., 2007). Some of the UK and Chinese respondents did regard itas one of the methods to know the brands, with the number of Chineserespondents outweighing British. Among these respondents, two of them 44
  51. 51. mentioned that they became more aware of the brands through the celebritiesin the advertisements, which confirms with the literature that celebrityendorsement can lead to product credibility (McGuire, 1978) and enhanceattractiveness (McCracken, 1989).“It (Advertising) is important because the brand image is built up so that youwill choose (to buy them).”“I used to play basketball and so I used to watch NBA games. During the gamebreak, they (basketball players) will show up. Like Coby Bryrant, he was therepresentative of adidas previously…” Vivian, 23, Chinese, Female“TV, advertisements in the shopping mall, on the street…they (advertisers) putposters in the public areas.” Kevin, 23, Chinese, Male“I guess it does (have an effect) on subliminal basis. Marketing people mayaffect me someway.”“The adidas ‘impossible is nothing’ advert with leading sportsmen like MichaelJordan, Lance Armstrong, David Beckham, Zidane (is verymemorable)…because I know them through their sports achievement, youknow, they are familiar faces, so they associate themselves with brands, andit’s easy to make connections.” Neil, 24, British, MaleAs far as peers influence on clothes purchasing is concerned, similar numberof Chinese and the UK respondents agreed that it does have impact on theirpurchasing decisions. 45
  52. 52. “Maybe they (my friends) buy very nice clothes, and from my mind, they arenice to put them on. So, when I go shopping next time, I will consider them.” Kevin, 23, Chinese, Male“If I am training and I see a friend wearing a new T-shirt or something, I will askthem what the brand is…my brother bought a Helly Hansen sportswear, that’scool.” Neil, 24, British, MaleOther sources for raising brand awareness like internet surfing and shopvisiting are also prevalent among Chinese and British respondents. 4 Britishinterviewees revealed that they became familiar with the brands through shopvisiting, while 4 Chinese interviewees got their brand information via internetsurfing.4.3.3 Perceived qualityThe issue of perceived quality was investigated through question 6, in whichinterviewees were asked, “How do you judge the quality of the clothes?” Theirattitudes towards country-of-origins of clothes were also solicited from thefollow-up questions. The findings are illustrated in Tables 6 and 7. 46
  53. 53. Table 6: Criteria for judging clothes quality (British respondents) Criteria Materials Style Colour Durability Country of OthersName originHannahSmith + + +MarkMorrison + -Neil PerformanceBowley + + + -Narinder PriceSandhu -MichaelKosciukiewicz + - Table 7: Criteria for judging clothes quality (Chinese respondents) Criteria Materials Style Colour Durability Country of OthersName originJoviChong + +VivianLi + + +VanessaFang + + + +AlickWong + -KevinFang + + + - Key +/- or words in black: Initial response without prompt; +/- or words in blue: Response with prompt As shown in Tables 6 and 7, nine out of ten respondents regard materials as one of the criteria for judging clothes quality, followed by style, colour, durability, price and performance, in which these criteria are important for consumers in judging product quality (Aaker, 1991). Most of them could mention these judging criteria at once. There are no significance differences between British 47