Shopping references used by American men for apparel purchase decisions
Lamb, Tammy Rae
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Social comparison theory (Festinger, 1950) predicts the drive people have to evaluate their own opinions and abilities though comparison with relevant others. Reference group theory stresses the influence of a group of persons including family, friends, and work associates on behavior (Hyman, 1942). As men assume more responsibility for household tasks, either because they are staying single longer, or because they are part of the increasing number of two-income households, marketers must utilize the most effective means of reaching this target market. Therefore, the primary purpose of this study was to identify the references men use in the decision to purchase apparel for themselves. A secondary purpose was to create profiles of male consumers using information concerning these references, identified shopping behaviors, demographic and psychographic characteristics, and area of residence. A national random sample of adult males (n = 440) participated in the study. A majority of the respondents were married (75%), with a mean age of 47.7. Thirty-seven percent described their occupation as "Professional." The instrument included a Reference Identification Scale developed by the researcher, as well as a Clothing Interest Scale (Sharpe, 1963), the Index of Social Position (Hollingshead & Redlich, 1958), and a Shopper Type Category Scale (Levy, 1981). Additional questions were included to ascertain demographic and geographic information. Hypotheses were analyzed by one-way ANOVA. Statistical analysis revealed that male consumers used non-personal references, especially store displays, more often than personal references when seeking ideas about which clothing items to purchase. When personal references were used, the wife or girlfriend was chosen significantly more often (p<0.0001) than other personal references both before and after making an apparel purchase. Pearson Product Moment Correlations were used to create consumer profiles according to references used. Variables found to be indicative of particular reference usage included: social class, level of clothing interest, region of residence, size of city in which the respondent lived, age, marital status, income, where shopping was done, level of impulsiveness indicated, amount of money spent for clothing annually, frequency of shopping, importance of store reputation, and preference for store type. An understanding of where idea generation begins will assist marketers in targeting promotional efforts in the most effective manner. Consumer profiles in relation to references used will further streamline targeting efforts by allowing the marketer to identify customers and promote products accordingly.