Effect of Brand Image on Consumer Purchasing Behaviour on Clothing: Comparison between China and the UK’s Consumers

By Kwok Keung Tam


A Dissertation presented in part consideration for the degree of “MSc International Business”

Table of Content
Page numbers Abstract i



Chapter 1: Introduction 1.1 The importance of brand image on fashion clothing 1.2 Background information of China and the UK clothing markets 1.2.1 China clothing market Chinese spending habits Impediments to China’s clothing brand development 1.2.2 UK clothing market British spending habits Characteristics of the UK clothing market 1.3 Theoretical framework 1.4 Objectives of the dissertation 1.5 Outline of the dissertation

1 1 2 2 3 4 5 5 6 7 7 8

Chapter 2: Literature review 2.1 Introduction 2.2 The important roles of brand 2.2.1 The characteristics of successful brands 2.3 Brand equity 2.3.1 Brand awareness 2.3.2 Perceived quality 2.3.3 Brand loyalty 2.3.4 Brand association 2.4 Consumer buying behaviour

10 10 10 11 12 13 15 16 17 19

2.4.1 Models of consumer behaviour 2.5 Summary

20 23

Chapter 3: Methodology 3.1 Introduction 3.2 Theoretical backgrounds 3.2.1 Review of different research traditions 3.2.2 Quantitative versus qualitative analysis 3.2.3 Reliability and validity of data 3.3 Justification of research method 3.4 Sampling 3.5 Interview schedule 3.5.1 Stage one 3.5.2 Stage two 3.5.3 Stage three 3.6 Administration 3.7 Analysis strategy 3.7.1 Grounded theory and its relationship to qualitative data analysis 3.7.2 Within-case and cross-case analysis Within-case analysis Cross-case analysis 3.8 Summary

24 24 24 24 25 26 27 29 31 31 32 34 34 34 34

35 36 37 37

Chapter 4: Research findings and discussion 4.1 Introduction 4.2 Backgrounds of respondents 4.3 Effect of clothing brand image on consumer buying behaviour 4.3.1 Significance of clothing brands on consumer purchasing decisions 4.3.2 Brand awareness

38 38 38 40 40


2.4 Brand loyalty 5.4 Brand loyalty 4.3.3 Perceived quality 5.5 Brand association 5.4 Results 4.6 Consumer buying behaviour 4.2 Conclusions 5.5 Summary 46 50 53 54 56 57 Chapter 5: Conclusions 5.3 Perceived quality 4.1 Introduction 5.4 Implications 5.3.2 Brand awareness 5.3.5 Recommendations for further research 58 58 58 58 59 59 60 60 61 61 62 64 References 66 Appendix 1: The 100 top brands 2006 79 Appendix 2: Interview questions 80 Appendix 3: Interview transcription 81 .2.3.1 Significance of clothing brands on consumer purchasing decisions 5.2.3 Limitations 5.6 Consumer buying behaviour Brand association 4.2.2.

more emphasis should be placed on the marketing strategies such as rewarding customer loyalty with a view to enhance the sustainable development of the clothing brands. This study examines the factors which contribute to brand equity in the clothing industry.Abstract Brand 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. it is important that Chinese factory owners together with marketers should join hands to have better control over the clothes quality. brand loyalty and brand association. clothing brands are much better developed than its China counterparts. perceived quality. however. The findings suggested that Chinese tend to have negative perceptions towards the quality of clothes produced in their own country. In the UK. i . namely brand awareness. Having known that China has no influential clothing brands around the world. Semi-structured interviews have been conducted to solicit responses from interviewees for analysis. comparing the consumer behaviour between the British and Chinese respondents based on the four respects of brand equity.

Vicky Story. but also encouraged me to face the challenge ahead. Dr. Last but not least. I would also acknowledge my school-mates for their help in the data collection process. They have devoted their precious time for the interviews voluntarily and their wholehearted support contributes to the success of this dissertation. She has given me support as well as valuable comments throughout the consultation period so that I can manage to handle one of the hardest subjects in my university life. I would like to extend my gratitude to my family members. He has not only inspired me to do this dissertation. This dissertation is dedicated to my family and I will try my best to do anything. especially my father Chun Shiu Tam who has devoted himself to the clothing industry for nearly half a century. in assisting me to finish the dissertation.Acknowledgements I would like to thank my advisor. ii . In addition.

Each stage is of equal importance that can alter the consumer buying decision. Shopping for clothes is one of the popular pastimes among people from all ages. show satisfaction to the services or product quality and finally be loyal to the brand. Thus. Human beings cannot live without the protection from clothes in adverse conditions and this signifies how important clothing is for us. As mentioned by Rayport and Jaworski (2003). namely pre-purchase. Once consumers make a purchasing decision. clothes can also serve as fashion items. under the influence of globalization and concerted efforts from media advertising. Nowadays. have become popular not only in their country of origin. is a kind of necessity that helps keep our bodies warm. Owing to the proliferation of brands in the clothing sector. express the status an individual has and what their personal image is like (O’Cass. Several brands. consumers need to take serious consideration during the buying processes. but also in other markets with high potential. 2000). read product information. in addition to the basic functions. 1 . purchase and post-purchase. choose the buying modes. the purchasing processes can be divided into three stages. determine whether to buy again from the same retailer. 1996).1 The importance of brand image on fashion clothing Clothing. which can tell how significant an individual is. Having a strong and remarkable brand image could help establish an identity in marketplace (Aaker. different genders and cultural backgrounds.Chapter 1 Introduction 1. consumers may need to recognize their personal needs. decide which and where to buy. These highlight the complication of buying processes and the potential impact a brand could impose in between them. clothing can help represent our personal identity. as a matter of fact.

marketers would develop retail brands with unique image so as to continue to gain popularity and market share (Abend. On the other hand. In order to differentiate one brand from another. brands are regarded as valuable assets which can help the companies generate lucrative revenues. Ailawadi. China tends to be more dependent on labour-intensive production activities rather than natural resource-based activities (Greenaway and Milner. Corstjens and Lal. 1993. 1. 1991. encourage greater intermediary co-operation as well as increase the chance for further brand extension (Delgado-Ballester and Munuera-Aleman. This may probably explain why China is now becoming one of the most influential countries within the clothing sector. the UK has transformed from an industrial country to a well-developed country in the recent decades. In accordance with Delong et al.2 Background information of China and the UK clothing markets China and the UK are entirely different in their economic structures.1 China clothing market The clothing industry is one of the most important and hence heavily invested industry in China. 1996. Being an advanced developing country. (2004). 2000. contributing to 74. 1993). 2003). 2001. 1. which would be illustrated in the following chapters. 2005). The importance of brand image has inspired many marketing scholars and practitioners to begin researching the concept of ‘brand equity’ (Aaker. In this way.2. Keller. The differences in their economies have triggered the interest of my study towards their consumer buying behaviour in the clothing sector.16 billion US dollars in terms of export value and leading it to become the second largest clothing export market in 2 . In this paper. 2000). Under this concept.widen the profit margins. the concept of brand equity would be utilized as a theoretical framework. managing brand image is of utmost importance. 1998. consumers appear to rely on the brand image as long as they have little knowledge about the brand.

Chinese customers show divergent opinions with respect to purchasing clothes. wielding the techniques and human resources to finish the orders placed by the foreign counterparts. people spend 7.. On average.2005 (WTO. Regarding the criteria for buying clothes. for instances low labour costs and large portions of usable land.1 Chinese spending habits According to a research conducted by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) (2002). Nowadays. however.3% of their income on buying clothes with women professionals having the highest demand and students’ spending the minimal amount. respondents rank fitness as their prime concern. pricing. the Grey China Base Annual Consumer Study (Bates. The HKTDC (2002) research also reports on the average annual spending on clothing.2. followed by cutting. quality and finally trendiness. It is undeniable that the entry of WTO would provide business opportunities for China. this would also engender intense competition since foreign firms are allowed to sell their products directly to China. It is believed that China could make use of its competitive advantages. 2004). the development of clothing industry in China becomes even much faster. As stated by Cui (1997). It is shown that they would prefer buying middle-priced range clothes from Hong Kong and luxury brand-named clothes made in foreign countries. This points out the fact that a large majority of Chinese is still in favor of domestic brands in low-priced range. With the accession of World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. China is known for the manufacture of basic goods in large volumes and foreign registered brands are often designed elsewhere and produced in China. 2006). Chinese brands have competitive advantage in fitness and pricing (Delong et al. to further strengthen its position in the clothing sector. 1998) reveals that over two thirds of the consumers regard domestic brands as their first priority. This disparity is probably due to the fact that professionals have higher spending power than the students’. 3 . However. However.1. China plays a role as a producer. 1.

1. become a major hindrance to the global brands’ development process. They tend to perceive US brands positively as US has a reputation in technological development and high fashion. none of the Chinese brands can enter the 100 Top Brands in 2006 (see Appendix 1) in which Nike was ranked 31.people still tend to buy luxury clothes produced in the foreign markets. Besides. Cui (1997) points out that customers would only justify a brand through its image as long as they know little about it. they often find Hong Kong and Taiwan brand names confusing.2. The lack of brand knowledge is probably attributed to the geographical and political differences. however.to middle-priced range market without fully penetrating to the luxurious level. Lim and O’Cass (2001) explain that people in the west tend to have negative perception towards brands from emerging economies and hence the number of famous clothing brands in China is limited. The originally advantageous factors. China has been connoted with the reputation of low-cost products in the overseas markets for decades. such confusion does not affect the overall perception towards brands in other countries.. followed by adidas in 71 and the Spain-found clothing company ZARA in 73. Such findings provide insights to the future development of local brands in China. however. This spells out the need for China to establish its own brands with good reputation. However. When it comes to the case 4 . Also. This is possibly owing to the fact that Chinese brands are confined to low. According to a report published by Business Week (2007).2 Impediments to China’s clothing brand development China has competitive advantages in terms of production factors such as low labour costs and growing technology. the lack of globally influential brands is one of the main reasons why China lags behind in the clothing industry with respect to brand development (Delong et al. Schmitt and Pan (1994) state that Chinese customers could not be able to differentiate between US and European apparel brands. 1. 2004).

2. it is pursuing a stable rather than aggressive GDP growth rate. including the clothing industry. Regarding its GDP growth. According to a research conducted by Weekes (2004). 2007). This can be revealed by the gradual decline of employment rate within the UK clothing industry (Jones and Hayes.1 British spending habits Spending seems more welcome than saving among the British people. March 25). Among the respondents. nearly two thirds of the companies in China would like to establish their own global brand. regardless of their quality. pales in comparison with the development of the business sector and even has a sign of recession in the recent decades. With such impetus and the concerted effort from the industry members. According to a research reported by Hargrave-Silk (2005. it is ironic that most respondents find that they are less authentic. the overall image of Chinese brands could become better in the future.2.2 UK clothing market The UK is a European country with population of around 60 million. the business services and finance sector are the most important source of gross domestic products.about the perception of China-produced foreign brands. females are more likely 5 . 2007). 2004). 1. just around one-third of female respondents and less than half of the male respondents express that they have the saving habits. contributing to nearly 30% of the total domestic products (Economist. which is 21 times less than that of China (Economist.2. The manufacturing sector. 1. The key motivation for doing so is to build up a global image so as to enhance the company’s international reputation and it is suggested that quality is the major determinant for the overseas customers to make their buying decisions. The image of China-produced products needs improvement in this sense. In addition. because of its mature economic structure.com.com.

the UK clothing industry has shifted its manufacturing section to other countries with low labour costs and skilled labour. 1998. women may even shop for men’s clothing (Dholakia. Although the UK is overwhelmed with fashion brands. As far as the UK fashion retail sector is concerned. 2004. and occasionally.. the same research shows that store cards may not be regularly used even though special offers are often given to the cardholders (Weekes. 1995).2. concentrated markets. fashion retailers tend to create product differentiation in which they can distinguish themselves from their potential competitors in terms of product features like design and price. This could be explained by the fact that store cards sometimes have much higher interest rates than that of the credit cards and personal loans (Mintel. 1999). this is found to hinder the development of British clothing design due to lack of manufacturing facilities (Dagworthy. 2002). Siddiqui et al. 2004). leaving alone the design centre with well-trained designers. 2003). However. 2003). as cited in Carruthers. In 6 . 1994). with nearly half of female respondents saying that they have at least one store card and nearly two-thirds of them own one or two loyalty cards. strong competitive activities.to spend on clothes than males. 1999. However. South and Spitze. as well as fluctuating consumer demand (Marciniak and Bruce. there is a trend for own brand development. Moore. a polarized marketplace.2 Characteristics of the UK clothing market Like most of the developed economy. Store cards and loyalty cards are common promotional tactics to solicit consumer’s loyalty. As mentioned by Moore (1995). 1. 2004). Such move can probably account for the significant drop in employment rate and amount of output in the clothing sector (Jones.2. the market is characterized by products with small differentiation (Birtwhistle and Freathy. short-life-cycle products. This may possibly explain why shopping is a gendered activity (Dholakia.

1998). clothing is a kind of public 7 . consumers would prefer buying brand-name products (Bello and Holbrook. family-owed businesses and some large scale chain stores. The theoretical framework adopted in this dissertation would be based on the concept of brand equity and the details of each element are to be discussed and analyzed later in chapter four. 1. 2004). Having found out the relationship between brand image and consumer purchasing behaviour. 2004. Such phenomena have stimulated the emergence of brand name development in the competitive UK clothing market. As far as the same level of product quality is concerned.3 Theoretical framework With a well-known brand name. 2001. with the comparison between the Chinese and British consumers. perceived brand equity and brand associations. 1995). The clothing sector is particularly chosen in this research. the fashion retailing sector is found to incorporate the largest number of indigenous chains such as Next plc (Marciniak and Bruce. composing of independent. As stated by Bearden and Etzel (as cited in Hogg et al.. Marciniak and Bruce. with the later one contributing to the largest proportion of market share (Easey. According to Aaker (1991). marketers and practitioners could devise strategies to increase the sales revenues. 2003). brand equity is mainly derived from four elements.4 Objectives of the dissertation The aim of this dissertation is to investigate the effect of brand image on consumer purchasing behaviour in clothing. 1. consumers would appear to be more likely to purchase the products in much higher prices.addition. namely brand awareness. Compared with other retailed sector. Mintel. the retailing sector is fragmented. This phenomenon spells out the concept of brand equity. brand loyalty.

whereas the UK is a mature market in which consumers are more experienced in purchasing brand-name clothes.5 Outline of the dissertation The structure of the dissertation is shown as follows: Chapter 1 is the introductory section. there are differences in buying behaviour for consumers in China and the UK. mainly concentrating on clothing industry and consumer buying behaviour. 1. The results of such comparison would offer meaningful insights for further brand development in both China and the UK. is on the lookout for extensions. ZARA. First. Chinese and British consumers are going to be compared in this research since China and the UK have been targeted by many clothing retailers due to their enormous customer base. the research objectives and the dissertation outline. In this way. China. Two assumptions are made throughout the dissertation.necessity with weak reference group influence on the product category but strong reference group influence on the brand choice. 2007). containing the background information of China and the UK clothing industry. results obtained from the research on brand image could be more conspicuous. Famous clothing brands like H&M and ZARA have already obtained their footholds in these two markets that underlie their significant contribution to these companies (H&M. being an emerging country with high potential on clothing brands. brand image should have an impact on the consumer buying behaviour of clothing and second. 2007. In addition. Chapter 2 will incorporate the review of previous studies. It is believed that this chapter could provide readers with general information like theories and issues in relation to consumer buying behaviour for clothes so as to make them more 8 .

Implications towards the business environment and research limitations are also included. Recommendations would be made with regard to the limitations so as to provide further directions in the future studies. Chapter 5 would draw conclusions on the findings from the previous chapters. Whether brand image would affect the consumer buying behaviour in the clothing sector is shown and also the similarities and differences regarding the circumstances in China and the UK are investigated.understandable in the forthcoming sections. Chapter 4 is the core of the dissertation in which research findings are presented and discussed. Chapter 3 delineates the research methodology. 9 . focusing on the description of research design and justification of data.

as well as its overall presentation (Murphy. Owing to the proliferation of brands in the recent decades. Murphy. From the consumers’ perspective. most of them concentrate on a single country study.. advertising. In this chapter.2 The important roles of brand Brand is a name in every consumer’s mind (Mooij.1 Introduction Consumer behaviour refers to the activities in which people acquire. regardless of the importance of cross-country comparisons which will inspire innovative ideas for understanding the fast-changing consumer habits. 2001). brand is a guarantor of reliability and quality 10 .Chapter 2 Literature Review 2. The emergence of brand equity underlies the importance of brand in marketing tactics and hence provides useful insights for managers and further research (Keller. 1998). 1991. 1998). the literatures concerning the roles of brand and brand equity are to be reviewed so as to provide a theoretical framework for the aforementioned analysis. Brand serves a pivotal role for distinguishing goods and services from those of the competitors (Aaker. 2003). promotion. Keller. 2. there is a growing number of research conducted in the field of consumer buying behaviour. However. In addition to a specific brand name. 1991. 1998). 1998) and it is characterized by a noticeable name or symbol which can differentiate the goods and services from the rivals’ (Aaker. This dissertation is going to investigate the differences of British and Chinese in purchasing clothes under the influence of brand image. packaging. a brand is also composed of products. consume and dispose products and services (Blackwell et al.

According to a research conducted by Freeride Media LLC (1998) on shopping habits. on the other hand. consumers would like to buy and use brand-name products with a view to highlight their personality in different situational contexts (Aaker. Successful branding could make consumers aware of the presence of the brand and hence could increase the chance of buying the company’s products and services (Doyle. 2006).2. considers the packaging of the tangible product so as to attract the attention from the potential customers. Although successful brands can be totally different in nature. 1999). Basic brand. which are developed in accordance with their perceptions towards the brand. 2. As mentioned by Levitt (1983). Finally and most importantly. consumers have a wide range of choice to choose from when they enter a shopping mall. consumers would have their preferences. they share something in common. a potential brand is established through engendering customer 11 . nearly one-forth of the respondents are likely to impulse-buy clothes and accessories. there are four elements for building a successful brand.in consumer products (Roman et al. 2000).. 2005). Fennis and Pruyn. Added to this. 1998. 1998). Nowadays.1 The characteristics of successful brands A brand can be an everlasting and lucrative asset as long as it is maintained in a good manner that can continue satisfying consumers’ needs (Batchelor. basic brand. Murphy. 1998). Tangible product refers to the commodity which meets the basic needs of the customers. namely tangible product. When deciding which products to purchase. augmented brand and potential brand. It is found that consumers’ emotions are one of the major determinants which affect their buying behaviour (Berry. 1999. for instances well-priced products and consistent quality (Murphy. The brand can be further augmented with the provision of credibility. effective after-sales services and the like.

Added to this.3 Brand equity The term ‘brand equity’ refers to a set of assets and liabilities associated with a brand. it happens when consumers are willing to pay more for the same level of quality just because of the attractiveness of the name attached to the product (Bello and Holbrook. 1998). Brands like HSBC. One of the quintessential examples regarding brand as a kind of equity is the imposition of laws to protect intellectual property (Murphy. Sainsbury and Tesco are all listed on the FTSE 100 index (London Stock Exchange. the image of the brand could be well instilled in the customers’ mind. 2007). It is not uncommon to find some familiar brands listed on the stock markets in which they could be bought or sold. including its name and symbol. many countries have set up laws to protect trade marks. the values of brands have been recognized to both the consumers and producers.preference and loyalty. 12 . brand is also a tradable product with measurable financial value (Murphy. Vodafone. 2002). which could impose beneficial or detrimental effects on the values arising from the products or services (Aaker. 2. 1995). 1996). patents.. Concerning the positive side of brand equity. For instance. Marks and Spencer. In order to combat piracy. poor product quality and customer services could adversely affect the brand image. brand equity could be ruined if it is not properly managed. This is supported by the fact that brand equity depends on the number of people with regular purchase (Aaker. However. 1998). Keller (1998) points out that brand equity signifies the unique marketing effects imposed on the brand. giving rise to a reduction in sales volume. In addition. designs as well as copyright. not to mention the growth or declines of retail sales (Blackwell. By doing so. In countries with well-established legal system. 1991. Yasin et al. 2007). It is found that the volatility of stock market could affect consumers’ purchasing mood.

but also attracted more people to invest in the bigger company with high potential (Business Week. For the consumers. It is important for the potential consumers to be aware of a product so that it can become one of the purchasing choices. Past purchasing experiences and familiarity with the brand could be attributable to the perceptions generated from the consumers (Aaker. This is due to the fact that the product needs to enter the awareness set before it comes to the consideration 13 .The above examples highlight the values of brand equity for both consumers and the firm. 1991). 1991). perceived quality and brand associations (Aaker.1 Brand awareness Brand awareness is one of major determinants of brand equity. with brand recognition being the lowest level and the first named brand with unaided recall being the highest level. The level of brand awareness lies in a continuum. brand equity could also allow higher margins through premium pricing and reduced reliance upon promotional activities (Aaker. 2. Besides. For instance. 1991). As for the firm. Brand equity is a broad concept which can be further subdivided into four main areas. brand equity could provide them with information about the brand which influences their confidence during the purchasing process. It refers to the ability of a potential consumer to recall and recognize the brand.3. 1998). namely brand loyalty. There is a high propensity for consumers with good perceptions to buy from the same shop again than those with poor perceptions. linking the brand with its corresponding product class (Aaker. 2005). name awareness. consumers no longer focus on the short-term promotion but the brand on the whole. Keller. Owning to the positive image. 1991. brand equity could also be a source for the firm to generate cash flow. These four main areas are to be discussed in the coming sections. the merger between adidas and Reebok in 2005 not only increased their market share so as to compete with Nike in the US sports apparel market.

Macdonald and Sharp. It is found that advertisement attitude is attributable to the influence on brand attitudes.set (Blackwell et al.. 2007). As mentioned by Keller (1998). 2000). In order to achieve brand awareness. due to their political separations. 2001) and an increase in brand awareness is conducive to a higher chance of entering the later set (Nedungadi. has once been a colony of the UK. brands with higher level of awareness would be more likely to be purchased (Yasin et al. Moreover. For long time. affecting consumer’s intention to purchase (Mackenzie et al... as pointed out by McGuire (1978). celebrities can disseminate messages to particular consumers and hence increase the brand awareness. Taiwan would like to become politically independent from China owing to their different political standpoint whereas Hong Kong. Consumers are hence well-equipped with comparative elements to judge which product or service to purchase (Alvarez and Casielles. brand awareness can be enhanced through repeat exposure to the brand. According to research conducted by Delong et al. owing to geographical differences. In case of China. In addition. Several factors can alter the level of brand awareness. 1990). For source credibility. 1990. Advertising and celebrity endorsement could be some useful tools for raising brand awareness. (2004). 2005). As for source 14 . its geographical location and politics could affect the consumer brand awareness level seriously. In recent decades. 1986. there is an increasing number of advertising campaigns around the world. two tasks are to be accomplished. In this way. brands from Taiwan and Hong Kong are sometimes confused.. This could probably explain why consumers tend to buy a recognizable brand rather than an unfamiliar one (Hoyer. Tsai et al. celebrity endorsement can give rise to source credibility and source attractiveness. being a special administrative region since 1997. 2007). Chinese consumers cannot distinguish US apparel brand names from the European ones. namely increasing brand name identity and associating it with the product class.

perceived quality is determined by a number of factors.attractiveness. Regarding product quality. 1991). 1998. on the other hand. it is becoming more difficult to obtain satisfactory level of perceived quality owing to the fact that fast and continuous product advancement has already strengthened consumers’ expectations on product quality (Sherman. This association can raise the public awareness towards the brand. motivating channel members to perform well and also introducing extensions into new brand categories (Aaker. reliability. charging premium price. serviceability as well as fit and finish. In addition. successful endorsement can associate the culture of the celebrity world with the endorsed product (McCracken. responsiveness and empathy (Aaker. 1991). 1990) and also the perceptions towards the 15 . the country-of-origin of a product is found to affect its perceived quality (Khachaturian and Morganosky. differentiating the position of a brand.. Similar to brand awareness. features. reliability. To be more specific. competence. Keller. In addition to the aforementioned dimensions. durability. 1992). perceived quality can further be classified into product quality and service quality. 1991. namely performance. Service quality. 2004). Nevertheless. Since it is a kind of intangible. Yasin. It is defined as the customer’s perception of the overall quality or superiority of a product or service (Aaker. conformance with specifications. 2007). 1989). it is found that perceived quality is of utmost importance in determining brand loyalty as well as repeat purchase (Delong et al. 2. overall feeling towards a brand.3. Perceived quality of a brand could help generate values by providing a pivotal reason-to-buy. there are seven dimensions which affect the consumers’ perception. is judged by its corresponding tangibles. it is subjective in nature and hence the knowledge of actual detailed product specifications could have little correlation with the perceived quality.2 Perceived quality Another important attribute to brand equity is perceived quality.

consumers could have their preferences for products made from one country over another (Papadopoulos et al. 1991). it can help reduce the marketing costs of doing business (Aaker. consumers are inclined to develop stereotypical beliefs about the products from particular countries. In this case. prices and convenience owned by its competitors (Aaker. 1991). 2005). loyal customers could influence the others to purchase the brand. loyalty to a brand can enhance trade leverage. For many companies. This is due to the fact that some consumers make habitual purchase towards a particular brand just because of its prominence in stock and effective promotions.3 Brand loyalty Brand loyalty is one of the core components of brand equity and also positively and directly affected brand equity (Atilgan et al. consumers are assured to buy the product if they have some friends or relatives who 16 . 1991). Loyal customers confer to a higher possibility of repeat purchases and it is less costly to keep customers than to get new ones. Brand loyalty is regarded as valuable asset under different circumstances. having loyal customers is a kind of blessing. As mentioned by Srikatanyoo and Gnoth (2002). Some consumers with strong affiliation to one brand would switch to the shop in which a designated brand is sold. 2. Moreover. consumers continue to buy the brand. the less vulnerable the customer base would be. Under the influence of brand loyalty. This is typically true when the product concerned is somewhat risky. Second. First. 1993).. price is one of the important cues to evaluate perceived quality (Aaker. Keller (1998).3.. The more loyal the consumers are towards the brand. 1991). Based on the practice that repeat buying is one of the indicators for brand loyalty. Hence.purchased value (Ahmed and d’Astou. Third. however. regardless of the superior features. challenges that such measure may not be totally accurate. It is found that price is more relevant in judging the perceived quality of a product given that a person lacks the ability to evaluate the quality of a product.

Hence. This suggests why word-of-mouth communication is one of the most powerful tools in the marketplace (Henricks. Customers can also be rewarded for their loyalty towards the firms so that they will continue to buy the products. it is important to treat the customer with respect in order to keep them loyal. the intangible qualities.recommend the same model of product. the firm could make good use of the time lapse to develop more superior products in order to compete with its rivals. KLM and chain stores such as TOPMAN provide club-cards or loyalty cards to reward their customers with discounts and other benefits. 1991). customer satisfaction level needs to be properly managed through conducting consumer research. Due to the values obtained from brand loyalty. brand loyalty can help provide ample time for the firm to response to competitors’ newly launched products. Marney.3.4 Brand association The last dimension for brand equity is brand association. 2. In addition to the tangible products. It is defined as the specific linkage between the memory and the brand (Aaker. Silverman. examples. 2000). episodes. as well as personal communication sources in making purchasing decision rather than more formal and organizational advertising campaigns (Bansal and Voyer. and facts that create a brand knowledge network (Yoo et al. for instances innovativeness and distinctiveness are also taken into account as brand associations.. consisting of multiple ideas. Bansal and Voyer. (2007) further note that equity of a brand is largely supported by consumers’ associations towards the brand. 2000). 17 . Keller (1998) and Yasin et al. which contribute to a specific brand image. 1997. 2000). Consumers usually depend on informal. For instance. Finally. Moreover. several airlines like Cathay Pacific. 1998. Brand association is such a complicated concept that connects to one another. According to Aaker (1991). 1995. many firms would devise different strategies to maintain and enhance the loyalty from customers.

Associations towards a brand can create value for the firm and so its customers in a number of ways. the overall features of the product or service are concerned. Attributes can be further categorized into product-related attributes as well as non-product related attributes. 1991). Such kind of associations can provide bases for them to make purchase decisions and even become loyal to the brand (Aaker. Second. brand associations can differentiate one brand from another.Keller (1993. Finally. Consumers are attracted by the signal when they purchase a product in a particular brand. making the customers remember the brand by heart. on the other hand. Signal effect is determined by the image of consumers and also the personality of the brand. Function benefits signify the physical or basic advantages a brand may have. 1998). packaging. Attributes refer to the specific characteristics a product has. price information. Associations can also be used to trigger the customers to recall their past experiences. As for non-product related attributes. Customers are sometimes forgetful and associations towards a brand serve as a brief summary for the customers to make their purchasing decision. lying in a continuum from positive to negative (Gabbott and Hogg. they are related to consumers’ emotional feelings. For product-related attributes. Different brands have different associations to their prospective customers. benefits and attitudes. This can make the brand 18 . For experimental benefits. It is about brand positioning that a well-positioned brand will find it hard to be attacked by its competitors due to its uniqueness. They incorporate summary evaluations of information which represent how consumers feel in a long run. Benefits are another category in brand associations. Symbolic benefits. They can be classified into functional. experimental and symbolic. First of all. 1998) further divides brand associations into three categories. they help the customers to process or retrieve information (Keller. user imagery as well as usage imagery are to be considered. refer to the signal effect that a brand may impose on the consumers. namely attributes. 1998). attitudes are regarded as the consumers’ overall assessments towards a brand.

Brand image possibly affects how consumers perceive the brand and hence their purchasing behaviour. First of all. however. services. buy. 2. Once brand associations are constructed in a meaningful way. from basic necessities to high-valued collectables. consumer behaviour can influence the economic health of a nation (Blackwell et al. consumer behaviour is about how people make their decisions on personal or household products with the use of their available resources such as time. 2006). (2006) further provide a holistic view that defines consumer behaviour as the activities and the processes in which individuals or groups choose. some associations can engender positive feelings. ideas or experiences.unbeatable but it is quite difficult to achieve since consumer taste changes quite rapidly. the specific brand image attached on a product may differentiate itself from the others. There may be products on the market with similar quality and design. The study of consumer buying behaviour is of utmost importance in a number of aspects. money and effort. Forth. As mentioned by Schiffman and Kanuk (2000). Madonna appearance in H&M’s collection advertisement can stimulate customers their positive feelings about the products. For examples. adidas slogan ‘Impossible is nothing’. such phenomenon is one of the most interesting and hence heavily investigated topics in the marketing field. brand associations may include some product attributes or consumer benefits which encourage the consumers to purchase the brand. Consumers would have their preferences in purchasing products from specific retailers and hence the remaining retailers 19 .. Owing to the proliferation of products in the market.4 Consumer buying behaviour Many people do consume a wide range of products every day. a vivid brand image is established. Third. Gabbott and Hogg (1998) and Blackwell et al. use or dispose the products. contributing to its higher premium price.

consumers’ decisions can provide a clue for which industry to survive.1 Models of consumer behaviour Several models are developed with a view to provide explanations for the consumer buying behaviours. most of them are composed of stages such as pre-purchase. such definition falls short of the continuity of the processes. which companies to succeed. present consumer behaviour studies regard consumers as important determinants of organizational success and it is found that the most successful organizations are customer-centric (Blackwell et al. purchase and post-purchase (Hoyer and Maclnnis. 2. Blackwell et al.4. 2006). Arnoud et al. 2006). 2001. Although they vary in form of presentation. 1998). (2001) define consumer behaviour as a summation of acquisition. search for information. For instance. As far as the consumer decision process model is concerned. evaluation. and also which products to excel. Based on this loophole. Rayport and Jaworski. The notion ‘the consumer is king’ should be deep-rooted in every business people’s mind that they should try to please these kings using their innovative methods.are selected using the rule of ‘survival of the fittest’. comprising acquisition of goods and services. the firms can make use of such information to devise corresponding marketing strategies in response to the consumers’ needs (Blackwell et al. as well as disposal of used goods. consumption. 2003). However. Therefore. purchase.. consumption and disposal of products or services. consumers need to go through seven steps before reaching their final decisions. 20 post-consumption evaluation and . Moreover. tailor-made products can be made to enhance customer value and thus facilitate repeat purchase (Gabbott and Hogg. consumption. through understanding the reasons for consumers to buy the products and their buying habits. (2004) further propose the circle of consumption that recognize purchasing processes as a loop. Second. pre-purchase. These seven steps include need recognition..

In this stage. As mentioned by Solomon et al. Rayport and Jaworski (2003) propose a similar model with slight differences regarding the terms used. income.. size of purchase. consumers pay particular attention to the attributes which are most relevant to their needs (Kolter et al.. 1997). The buying process is initiated when people recognize their unsatisfied need (Levy and Weitz. is more likely to be based on personal interest on a particular brand. Functional needs are related to the performance of the product whereas psychological needs are intrinsically obtained when customers feel contented with shopping or owning a product which they long for. 2006). Stage two is the search of information. social class. as well as customer satisfaction. search of information can further be divided into pre-purchase search and ongoing search. Stage one is need recognition which occurs when an individual is aware of a difference between their perception and the actual satisfaction level (Solomon et al. namely functional needs and psychological needs. 1992). Pre-purchase search is initiated when consumers recognize a need and hence look for more information from the marketplace.. Stage three comes to the pre-purchase evaluation that consumers compare between different products and brands to make a purchasing decision. (2006) add that most consumer research would primarily base on these seven stages and how different elements affect each stage of consumers’ decisions. Attributes like quantity. Ongoing search. 2005).. on the other hand. The length and depth of search vary for different customers and depend on variables like personality. regardless of the different terms and consolidation of stages. past experiences. (2006). There are two kinds of needs. size. Customers pursuing this kind of search would like to obtain the most updated information about the designated brand. Blackwell et al. prior brand perceptions (Moorthy et al. Any changes in 21 .divestment (Blackwell et al. 2006). quality and price are commonly used to judge a brand by customers.

including retailer and in-store selection. Stage four refers to the purchase decisions made by the consumers after evaluating the offers from different retailers. visual displays inside the shops. Last but not least. 2006). customers evaluate the consumption process. This gives rise to satisfaction when consumers’ expectations are higher than the perceived performance and vice versa (Blackwell et al. there are two phases contributing to the decision making processes. (2006). The firms need to think about the possibility of remarketing.. firms can create value by providing lower price or unique offers to the customers so as to excel their competitive advantages over the others. According to Porter (2004).. as well as point-of-purchase advertising. customers begin consuming the products whereas in stage six. In stage five. stage six and stage seven are under the category of the post-purchase stage. 22 . Rayport and Jaworski (2003) further point out the significant impact of internet on consumer purchasing decision. stage seven comes to divestment.these attributes can affect consumer decisions on brand or product choices (Blackwell et al. In addition to in-store purchase. in which consumers dispose or recycle the products and at the same time. As stated by Blackwell et al. 2006). 2003). As pointed out by Dholakia and Uusitalo (2002). Stage five. Retailer selection is made by judging which retailers to buy after investigating the attributes from the previous stage whereas in-store selection is affected by the selling skills of salesperson. this new kind of non-shop retailing format has begun replacing the fairly established catalogue and TV shopping and its development is rapid albeit it is more recently found in comparison with the existing non-shop retailing modes. This stage is crucial since customers could be possible to make repeat purchases provided that they are satisfied with the aforementioned stages (Rayport and Jaworski.

Brand equity can be divided into four dimensions. It is hoped that by finding out the relationships of brand awareness. Nowadays. brand loyalty and brand associations. brand loyalty and brand association with the consumer purchasing behaviour that will provide useful insights for the development of the clothing sector. Only by understanding the consumer behaviour can the products or brands be developed in a right way. 23 . consumers seem to be more aware of the products they buy. including brand awareness. and at the same time. In this dissertation. perceived quality. Brands are so important that they are regarded as the equity to a firm. products are developed in an unprecedented way.5 Summary This chapter provides a review about the major research and theories regarding the consumer purchasing behaviour. whether the brand image would affect the consumers to purchase clothes is to be investigated.2. perceived quality. All of them have significant contribution to the brand as equity to the firm.

The details of the sampling would also be discussed. and also the validity and reliability of data are discussed in order to provide a general view about how the research is carried out and which factors influence the justification of research method. During the course of consumer behaviour research. namely qualitative and quantitative research. interpretive research and critical postmodernism.Chapter 3 Methodology 3. Each of them encompasses a variety of approaches. 3. In accordance with Gephart (2004).1 Introduction With a view to finding out the underlying principles of certain phenomenon. think and behave (Arnould et al. research theories can be classified into different types. there are two types of research methods. In terms of the science of knowledge acquisition. 2004). as well as justifying the most suitable approach for the research topic. 24 .1 Review of different research traditions Based on the methodology used. which are determined on the kinds of data being collected. the research traditions. whereas methodology is acknowledged to be the science of finding out (Babbie. namely positivism.. data are gathered. This chapter aims at discussing different theories and research methods. recorded and analyzed in a systematic and objective manner so as to apprehend and foresee how consumers feel. 3. theories. research is required. there are three research traditions. epistemology is about the science of knowing. 2004).2 Theoretical backgrounds In this section. In general.2.

3. Dey. In accordance to Fisher (2004). In the field of research. research methods can be classified in a dichotomy between quantitative and qualitative research.2 Quantitative versus qualitative analysis Generally. it assumes that a social world exists externally that should be measured objectively (Easterby-Smith et al. 1993). interpretative research focuses on subjective interpretations to describe meanings and understand reality. Events are concerned about what has happened in the world by our experiences to them.. together with the structures and processes within it. the majority of positivist research incorporates the comparison of qualitative case studies to analyze if there are any connections between variables. quantitative research focuses on analyzing numerical data whereas qualitative research deals with meanings. 2004.2. Finally. feelings and motivations of people (Babbie. qualitative research is sometimes regarded as a relatively minor methodology than its quantitative counterpart and there are some assumptions that only experimental data. mechanisms are the roots of events which are regarded as the deepest level among the three. including experiences. official statistics. While positivism stresses on objectivity. 2002). which is shaped by values and crystallizes over time. it underlines the assumption of symbolic reality. Fisher (2004) further reveals that critical postmodernism is a kind of realism which comprises three levels of reality. Fisher (2004) notes that the linkage between interpretations are dialogic and hence interpretive research aims at soliciting people’s accounts of how they find the world. Experiences are our perceptions and encounters of the world. examining the attitudes. Added to this. As far as the description and explanation of phenomena are concerned. As for critical postmodernism. random sampling 25 .Positivism makes use of the stance of realism in which the objective reality can be understood by mirror of science. events and mechanisms.

attitude (Kirk and Miller. Besides. 3. having a complete set of categorization for the events or activities described (Silverman. 2000). 1964. both of them are not perfect in a sense that they need to serve as a complement to each other. numeric data. 2000). 1956. As for qualitative research. In this way. suffers from the problem of ‘anecdotalism’ in which it just narrates some examples of phenomenon without taking less clear data into account (Silverman. That is why it is suggested that qualitative research should be used more often at the early or exploratory stage of a study (Silverman. for example. it is more likely to look into people’s in-depth feelings. quantitative analysis is stronger than qualitative analysis in that it can persuade readers with large-scale.and quantified data can lead to valid or generalizable social facts. Both the quantitative research and qualitative research have their own advantages and disadvantages. research needs a partnership and it could be beneficial to collaborate rather than compete between the different kinds of research methods.2. Silverman. 2000). Quantitative research surpasses qualitative in a sense that it can analyze data based on representative samples from a large population (Proctor. 1989). the reliability of tape-recorded and transcribed data is argued by some to be weakened owing to the possibility of missing some trivial but crucial pauses and overlaps (Silverman. Nevertheless. 2000). (2002). As suggested by Easterby-Smith et al. 2000). which uses ad hoc procedures to define and measure variables (Blumer. 1975). Qualitative analysis. 1986). qualitative research tends to focus on describing the process of how we define and measure variables in everyday life (Silverman. Cicourel. Unlike quantitative research. These determine whether the research can engender 26 . however.3 Reliability and validity of data The reliability and validity of the data and findings are of pivotal importance to the whole research.

1992). the findings of qualitative research are not necessarily repeatable since they reflect reality at the time of data collection. giving an accurate account to the social phenomena (Hammersley. This dissertation makes use of the qualitative research method and there have been some discussions on qualitative research regarding its reliability and validity. namely language-orientated approach. 27 . 2000). These underlie the importance of ensuring reliable methods and making valid conclusions in the research process. opinions and attitudes towards brand image are investigated. and the original form of the materials is unavailable (Silverman. the research cannot be claimed valid so long as there are only few exemplary instances reported. Besides. there are as much as forty types of qualitative research in three main orientations.3 Justification of research method Different research methods should be adopted based on the nature of research. As pointed out by Davis and Bremner (2006). which are judged by different observers or by the same observer on different occasions (Hammersley. 2000). 2006).useful findings or not. (2003). to justify reliability. 1992). While reliability is correlated to consistency. Hence. it is found that having reliable research results is not always attributable to valid outcomes (Davis and Bremner. one can replicate the same research to see whether the same outcomes are obtained on subsequent occasions. 3. qualitative research is more suitable in terms of soliciting the consumers’ in-depth responses. As mentioned by Saunders et al. However. As mentioned by Tesch (1990). Reliability connotes to the consistency on the research results. This may affect the reliability of the research findings. This dissertation aims at finding out consumer purchasing behaviour on clothing in which their beliefs. validity concerns about the truth (Silverman.

2006). interviewers may need to probe each answer and make use of the replies for further questioning (Proctor. Language-oriented approach concerns the use of language and meaning of words. theory-building approach tries to examine the connections between social phenomena. say 12-15 people. Based on the descriptive and interpretive nature in this research. 1992). During the course of interviews.descriptive/ interpretative approach. In descriptive/ interpretative approach. Proctor (2000) notes that the usefulness of qualitative research depends heavily on the researchers’ skills. researchers should show their ability to ask further in-depth questions based on the answers obtained. 2004). 28 . One may argue why interviews but not the other types of qualitative research methods are chosen in this research. focus group can also be a useful kind of research method that brings together some interviewees. Finally. Thus. as well as theory-building approach. In case of interviews. However. the thorough description and interpretation of social phenomena are the central focus. in a room to engage in a guided discussion on a common topic (Babbie. 2004). interviews are more controllable than focus groups in this regard. Added to this. The structure of interviews lies in a continuum in which fully-structured and unstructured interviews are the two extreme poles (Breakwell. For instance. Qualitative interviews refer to the interaction between an interviewer and interviewee on a topic which needs not to follow particular order and words in questioning and answering (Babbie. Breakwell (2006) points out that interviews are flexible in that they can be used at any stage in the research process. Although focus groups are much more effective and cheaper than interviews as one may see. 2000). researchers may find it difficult to assemble a large group of people and the control over the interviewees is minimal (Gamson. interviews are chosen as the data collection methods. ranging from the initial stage for identifying areas to more detailed exploration.

In addition. Among different structures of interviews. Being reliable does not necessarily attribute to validity but it is found that inconsistent responses may lead to certain inaccuracy (Davis and Bremner. researchers can follow up some unexpected. As pointed out by Smith and Osborn (2003). In accordance with Breakwell (2006). When it comes to the process of data collection. leaving more room for the interviewees to respond. interesting responses emerged during the interviews. 3.Structured interviews are characterized by their fixed nature and sequence of questions or the fixed nature of answers allowed. it is suggested that interviewers be trained for a specific study if necessary since their manner in questioning could impose an effect on how reliable and valid the data will be (Proctor. Interviewees may find these kind of interviews constrained as they are not free to provide information which is important in their mind. 2006). Moreover.4 Sampling As far as the sampling method is concerned. This can enrich the data collected from the interviewing process (Smith and Eatough. non-probability sampling is used 29 . unstructured interviews do not have specific formats. 2000). 2000). interviews depend on respondents’ accurate and complete responses. like other self-report methods. Unlike structured interviews. These can help solicit consistent responses and hence the reliability of data can be much enhanced. 2006). This gives rise to the possibility of unreliable and invalid data. underlying the importance human-to-human relationship of interviews (Fontana and Fry. Such format can enhance the sensitive and empathic facets of the findings. semi-structured interviews are chosen in this research. It is suggested that interviews could be complemented with other types of data such as observation and diary techniques so that the data obtained can be more valid. it is important to develop a systematic set of questions and help the interviewees to understand the questions. researchers tend to regard people as experiential experts on a specific topic under investigation. with the use of a semi-structured format.

Moreover. This is a combination of quota sampling and convenience sampling under the non-probability sampling classifications. 9 of them are master students and the remaining one is a PhD student. Unlike probability sampling which select samples randomly in a pool of population. Hence. 1982). The male to female ratio of Chinese and British samples is 1 to 1 (see Table 1 for details). Malhotra and King. 2003). equal proportions of British and Chinese were interviewed. non-probability sampling looks for participants on purpose (Babbie. 30 . this can be sacrificed for a greater degree of internal validity (Carpenter and Fairhurst. researchers deliberately look for participants so that they are of equal distribution for comparison whereas in convenience sampling. In this research. Among the 10 samples. researchers tend to choose interviewees which are easier to be looked for. though a homogeneous sample has lesser degree of external validity. 2004). 2005). 10 Nottingham University students were chosen to have face-to-face interviews. in quota sampling method. The criteria for judging whether they are Chinese or British customers are based on the passports they are holding together with the number of years they have lived in their home country. as comparisons of British and Chinese buying behaviour for clothes are investigated.as the tool for this research. As mentioned by Proctor (2000). findings reveal that homogeneous respondents can help reduce the possibility of measurement model error (Assael and Keon. They should have lived in China or the UK for long enough time than in other places that they are regarded as Chinese or British. 2002. All of them are students aged between 22 and 28. Student samples are used in this research because they can enhance homogeneity and it is much easier to control error during theory testing (Goldsmith.

3. was mentioned. which are discussed in the following sections. the questions were learnt by heart before the interviews.1 Stage one In this stage.5.5 Interview schedule The interview is composed of three stages. Questions 1 31 . with the former one being dominant in the interview (see Appendix 2). a successful interview incorporates both general and specific questions which will move between each other fairly seamlessly. Also. After the introduction. say 30 minutes. it is better to have mental prompts rather than constantly referring to the interview questions in the course of the interview. 2006). Open-ended questions are preferred since they allow the interviewees to answer as little or as much as they choose. There are two types of questions. the main theme of the interview was introduced with the provision of general ideas about what the interviewees were expected to answer. namely open-ended questions and closed-ended questions. As mentioned by Smith and Eatough (2006). The questions may not follow the order as set in the interview schedule as the respondents will react to them differently. leaving more room for them to think of the issue (Breakwell.Table 1: Distribution of samples in terms of gender and nationality Nationality Sample particulars Gender Number of respondents Chinese Male 2 Female 3 Male 3 British Female 2 3. The approximate length of the interview. As suggested by Smith and Eatough (2006). The issues relating to confidentiality and record permission were already mentioned at the time when the appointment was made. the interview began with some general questions regarding consumer spending habits on clothing. so they were not covered here.

How much do you spend on clothing each month? 3. further probing questions would be asked if the respondents mention something related to brand and brand equity. It also intends to investigate whether brand is an important criterion for consumers to choose particular products to purchase as mentioned in the literature (Doyle. 1998). In order to explore more information from interviewees’ responses. Main issues covered in the literatures in chapter 2. Since this research is about the effect of brand image on consumer purchasing behaviour. Which categories of clothes do you usually buy? 3. brand equity is regarded as the summation of brand awareness. Question 4 attempts to find out the criteria of clothes selection in which the interviewees consider. Moreover. How often do you buy clothes? 2.2 Stage two This stage covers in-depth questions about their views to clothing brand image. probing questions were asked if needed. The questions in this stage are as follows. 4. Mooij.to 3 attempt to serve as ice-breaking as the interviewees may not be prepared to answer in-depth questions at the very beginning of the interview. There are three questions in this stage and they are listed as follows: 1. including brand and brand equity. were discussed. 1999. What is it about particular clothes that make you buy them? Questions 5 to 10 are brand equity-related questions. 32 . As mentioned in the literatures. these can help understand their spending styles.5.

These questions are to find out whether brand equity is as important as what has been noted in the literatures. After finding out what the interviewees would do before making their purchasing decisions from the aforementioned questions. Why do you like this brand? Question 11 asks for the interviewees’ opinions about the new emerging online shopping mode whereas question 12 is about their post-purchase actions they took towards the clothes they had purchased. Can you describe the image of your favorite brand? 10. 2003). Do you regularly buy the same brand of clothes? 8. 11. In what ways do you usually learn about clothing brands? 6.perceived quality. Do you recommend brands? 9. Keller. brand loyalty and brand association (Aaker. these two questions try to figure out their purchase and post-purchase behaviour. purchase and post-purchase (Blackwell et al. As mentioned in some consumer behaviour models. Rayport and Jaworski. 5. 2006. What would you do if you are satisfied or dissatisfied about the clothes you purchase? 33 . there are three stages for purchasing products or services. including pre-purchase. 1991.. How do you judge the quality of the clothes? 7. 1993). Do you shop online for clothes? 12.

and common categories from observational data (Babbie. The production and the use of transcripts are essential research activities that they involve close. They lasted for approximately 20 to 30 minutes. depending on the interviewees’ familiarity to the questions and their willingness to provide more fruitful responses. 1984). the interviewees were asked to write a sentence which starts with the words ‘Brand is’.7.1 Grounded theory and its relationship to qualitative data analysis Grounded theory is one of the important concepts suggesting how researcher conducts their research. 2004). The interviews were then transcribed. Originated from two socialists Glaser and Strauss (1967). it attempts to derive theories based on the analysis of patterns. This serves as a summary of how interviewees perceive brands by providing their own definitions which may be similar or different from what is said in the literature.3 Stage three In the last stage of the interview. 3. The processes were recorded with the use of MP3 player with the approval from the interviewees so as to facilitate the subsequent analysis. possibly attributing to important research findings (Atkinson and Heritage.3. they would be thanked for providing their valuable time to attend the interview. 3.7 Analysis strategy This section introduces the concept of grounded theory and the use of within-case and cross-case analysis as the strategies for analyzing the research data. 3. repeated listening to the records which often reveal some unnoted recurring features. It focuses on 34 .5.6 Administration The interviews were conducted in the places such as rooms in the student accommodations or common areas in the university where the interviewees felt comfortable to answer the questions. After the interviewees have finished writing the sentence. themes.

one of the benefits of grounded analysis is that qualitative research structure has first been derived from the data. The importance of research procedures is heightened in the grounded theory. re-coding. 1993). There are seven stages for grounded analysis in total. provided that they follow three rules. qualitative data as well as interpretative thematic analysis of the qualitative data.7. Hence. Besides.2 Within-case and cross-case analysis As mentioned by Miles and Huberman (1994).. these could explain why grounded theory has gained much popularity in recent decades (Henwood and Pidgeon. researchers could be both scientific and creative at the same time under this theory. reflection. methodology skills can be developed in a number of areas such as handling and analyzing of large volumes of ill-structured. As mentioned by Strauss and Corbin (1990). as well as following the research procedures. conceptualization. patterns and categories. 2004). In addition. 2006). Grounded theory does have some impact on the qualitative research. These imply the seriousness of such theory in interpreting data and provide the basis for analyzing the ten interviews conducted. According to Easterby-Smith et al. (2002). namely within-case and cross-case 35 . They include periodically stepping back and asking. especially the use of systemic coding. maintaining an attitude of skepticism. 2006). it demonstrates some main strategies of qualitative inquiry that contain creative interplay of theories and methods during the integrated process of social research (Henwood and Pidgeon. which can enhance the validity and reliability of the data (Babbie. 2002). based on grounded theory. cataloguing concepts.different ways to code data (Dey. 3. linking and finally re-evaluation (Easterby-Smith et al. leading to further analysis of themes. including familiarization. interviews can be analyzed in two distinctive but interrelated ways.

analysis. In this dissertation, the interviews conducted were investigated based on these two approaches. The summary of these two approaches is shown in Figure 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 analysis Within-case analysis During the interviews, notes were first jotted down and then the summary of each individual interview was made after listening to the MP3 recorder for the sake of keeping the fresh memory of the interview content. A full transcription of each interview (see Appendix 3) was made after the completion of the whole interview process. After finishing the transcription, the main ideas of the interviews were summarized and presented in form of tables with codes like ‘+’ standing for interviewee who has mentioned this idea, whilst ‘-‘ connoting to a negative response to the question. Some quotes from the answers would be


illustrated for explanation if necessary. Cross-case analysis Cross-case analysis aims at looking for convergences and divergences in the data, recognizing ways to account for the similarities and differences of the respondents (Smith and Eatough, 2006; Smith and Osborn, 2003). Each interview was analyzed in the same way as mentioned in the within-case analysis. Then the patterns emerged were analyzed based the several tables in different themes.

3.8 Summary In this chapter, the methodology used in this dissertation has been justified and explained. Qualitative semi-structured interviews have been chosen as a mean to collect data since they are found to be more appropriate for soliciting responses in relation to attitudes, opinions and feelings. Besides, the sampling method was covered. In the course of data collection, the combination of convenience and quota sampling was being used. In addition, the schedule of interview was discussed with a view to providing some general ideas about the underlying reasons for asking such questions. The data collected would be analyzed using the methods of within-case and cross-case analysis. The research findings will be presented and discussed in the next chapter.


Chapter 4 Research Findings and Discussion
4.1 Introduction This chapter aims at presenting and discussing findings obtained from the interviews concerning the effect of clothing brand image on consumer purchasing behaviour. As mentioned in chapter 3, 10 people, including 5 British and 5 Chinese were interviewed. Each interview was recorded and transcribed for the purpose of analysis in this chapter.

As far as the analysis is concerned, it will be based on the most pertinent quotes, which reveal the viewpoints from the British and Chinese respondents respectively. According to Easterby-Smith et al. (2002), qualitative researchers need to communicate the findings in an honest and systematic manner, disseminating the richness of the findings and hence the experience of the researchers. In addition, the analysis should be open to verification as far as possible so that the others are free to repeat what has been done and check the 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 are presented and compared.

4.2 Backgrounds of respondents All respondents are students from the University of Nottingham, with nine of them being master students and one of them being a PhD student. Their ages range 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 their clothing spending habits, asking about their shopping frequency, money spent

” Kevin. One of the respondents revealed that he preferred buying clothes at special occasions like seasonal discounts so that the prices can be much more affordable. let’s go’. “…This year…not at all (buying clothes).on clothes and also the types of clothes they purchased. Generally. so I’ll buy them when I need them…probably.” Mark.” Narinder. These are in line with the literature that students spend less than the other groups like working class as far as clothes purchasing is concerned (HKTDC. Female Besides. In England. maybe 3 times a year. British. Chinese. One of them was slightly different in that she indicated that she is an impulsive buyer and hence she would buy clothes based on her moods and feelings at the time of purchase. Female “…Maybe not often recently because I have not got a lot of income for clothes.” Hannah. ranging from every week to three or four times a year. buy every 4 to 5 months. maybe one item every couple of month. 2002). “I’m a sort of impulsive buyer…’Oh gosh! I really need to buy some clothes now. many respondents revealed that they buy clothes at a regular interval. But before that. Male 39 . This could probably be explained by the findings mentioned in chapter 2 that consumers’ emotion is one of the determining factors for buying clothes (Berry. British. 23. 23. some of them pointed out that their financial status would have an impact on their frequency of buying clothes. 27. quite rare. British. I will buy clothes if there are discounts. normally I buy clothes 4 times a year (for each season). 2000). Male “In China. Because I have been poor. 24.

however. brand is important for product development in that it can be instilled in consumers’ minds (Mooij. 1991. There could be two identical clothes in the world.. the reasons why people buy them vary.1 Significance of clothing brands on consumer purchasing decisions As mentioned previously in chapter 2. brand names can add tremendous value to the products. It could be as simple as they are cheap and good looking or they are brand-named. I buy lots of clothes and it lasts me for half a year…” Neil. more than half of them were fond of buying clothes in the medium or high price ranges. More male than female respondents manifested that they would buy clothes in medium or above price ranges. it varies anywhere between 50 to 250 pounds. “Probably.3. It really gets a large variation. whether brand image would affect clothes purchasing behaviour is investigated.3 Effect of clothing brand image on consumer buying behaviour 4. Male The above quotes illustrate that clothes purchasing behaviour varies from time to time and from person to person. One of the male respondents revealed that he would spend about 50 to 250 pounds for clothes each time. South and Spitze. 2007). British. 1998) and hence it could have a beneficial or detrimental effect on customers’ buying decisions (Yasin et al. 1993). In the coming section. targeting to buy clothes in medium to high price ranges. Although it is mentioned in the literature that more females would like shopping than males (Dholakia. As mentioned in chapter 2. 24. Keller. Sometimes. retailers. with more emphasis being placed on the comparisons between British and Chinese consumers so as to provide new insights for further development of brands in the clothing sector. Whether brand is a determining factor is 40 . 4. 1999. it does not really mean that males have less spending power.When asking about the price range of clothes. 1994). as well as consumers (Aaker.

Suitable Jovi Chong Vivian Li Vanessa Fang Alick Wong Kevin Fang Key + + + + + + + - + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + Pleasant. Non-label Non-advert Hannah Smith Mark Morrison Neil Bowley Narinder Sandhu Michael Kosciukiewicz + + + - - + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + Functional use (Sports) Personal need Table 3: Determining factors for clothes purchasing (Chinese respondents) Reason Name Brand Country of origin Advert Quality Style Price Others Comfortable. +/.or words in blue: Response with prompt 41 . The columns named ‘country of origin’ and ‘advert’ would be discussed in later sections.examined in question 4. The results from both British and Chinese respondents are illustrated in Tables 2 and 3 accordingly. in which the respondents were asked about the reasons of buying particular clothes. Table 2: Determining factors for clothes purchasing (British respondents) Reason Name Brand Country of origin Advert Quality Style Price Others Comfortable.or words in black: Initial response without prompt. Intuition +/.

the British and Chinese interviewees showed some divergent viewpoints. British. I bought it (she points at her top) yesterday from NEXT. nine out of ten respondents had not provided immediate answer to question 4 regarding this issue until prompt was given. Because I know it a little bit good quality or that it’s going to be last well or perform well.” Neil. but I do not particularly look for brand names. If I have good experiences with something. British. Actually. 2002) seem also applicable to the UK respondents. When it comes to the effect of brand on buying clothes. Some of the UK respondents revealed that they look for brand names in buying clothes. two UK interviewees stated that brand names do not initiate them to buy during their shopping. In this regard. Well. 24. 24. Female 42 . “Yes.” Hannah. the findings from literature that Chinese find these three as important criteria for buying clothes (HKTDC. all respondents from both nations regard quality.” Mark. Male “Well. 1991). style and price as some of the determining factors for buying clothes.As observed from Tables 2 and 3. I probably buy again. 23. British. I wouldn’t specifically buy it because it’s from there. in which one of them highlighted the importance of past shopping experiences as mentioned in the literature (Aaker. However. I mean I will buy clothes from a shop. Moreover. Male “Never. I wouldn’t buy something because it’s from H&M or because it’s from ZARA. They are probably the shops I like.

24. So. I bought some big brands like designer labels. I changed my purchasing habits to some cheap stuff like Primark. which is coherent with the literature that brands are used to highlight personality under different circumstances (Aaker. One of them mentioned that reputable brands in medium to high price ranges connote to better quality and cutting. 4. I think they mostly get better cutting and better quality. Chinese.All Chinese respondents found that brand is one of the key factors for them to consider when buying clothes. one of them pointed out that brands can help change her personal style. I can use less money. Female Based on the above findings. 26. do have better quality than cheaper brands. This issue was examined through asking the question ‘In what ways do you usually learn about clothing brands?’ There are mainly four ways for the respondents to learn about the brands. if I buy too many big brands. so I have more faith in those brands for their clothes. For some T-shirts. “I do think most of the brands. Fennis and Pruyn. But recently. H&M and Dorothy Perkins…It’s quick for me to dislike the clothes that I bought. 2005). This is consistent with the literature that brand-named products can be served as a guarantor of reliability. 2006). It can be in consistent with my changing look and just lower the cost. brand can make potential consumers aware of the products (Aaker.” Jovi. it costs me too much.2 Brand awareness As mentioned in the literature. Chinese. 1991). In addition.to high-priced brands.. 1999. Female “Yes.3. including 43 . it seems that brands are more likely to have an impact on Chinese than British interviewees. The UK respondents tend to buy clothes they like but not merely because of the brands. like medium. and buy more clothes to change. if I buy cheap ones. as well as quality (Roman et al.” Vanessa.

or words in blue: Response with prompt Advert Peers Others Internet + + + + + + + Internet Internet From shops Advertisement is a powerful tool for raising brand awareness (Mackenzie et al. Table 4: Ways to learn about clothing brands (British respondents) Name Hannah Smith Mark Morrison Neil Bowley Narinda Sandhu Michael Kosciukiewicz Advert Peers Others + - + + + From shops From shops. Some of the UK and Chinese respondents did regard it as one of the methods to know the brands. 2007). with the number of Chinese respondents outweighing British. Internet From shops From shops Table 5: Ways to learn about clothing brands (Chinese respondents) Name Jovi Chong Vivian Li Vanessa Fang Alick Wong Kevin Fang Key +/.. Tsai et al.or words in black: Initial response without prompt. internet and shops. two of them 44 .. The results are shown in Tables 4 and 5. 1986. Among these respondents. peers.advertisement. +/.

Male As far as peers influence on clothes purchasing is concerned. he was the representative of adidas previously…” Vivian. advertisements in the shopping mall. which confirms with the literature that celebrity endorsement can lead to product credibility (McGuire. 24. Marketing people may affect me someway. Lance Armstrong. 1989). British. and it’s easy to make connections. you know. they are familiar faces.” Neil. so they associate themselves with brands. Chinese. Female “TV.” “The adidas ‘impossible is nothing’ advert with leading sportsmen like Michael Jordan.mentioned that they became more aware of the brands through the celebrities in the advertisements. on the street…they (advertisers) put posters in the public areas.” Kevin. 1978) and enhance attractiveness (McCracken. David Beckham. similar number of Chinese and the UK respondents agreed that it does have impact on their purchasing decisions. 23. Like Coby Bryrant. they (basketball players) will show up. 45 . “It (Advertising) is important because the brand image is built up so that you will choose (to buy them). Chinese.” “I used to play basketball and so I used to watch NBA games. Zidane (is very memorable)…because I know them through their sports achievement. Male “I guess it does (have an effect) on subliminal basis. 23. During the game break.

in which interviewees were asked. I will consider them. and from my mind. while 4 Chinese interviewees got their brand information via internet surfing. “How do you judge the quality of the clothes?” Their attitudes towards country-of-origins of clothes were also solicited from the follow-up questions. I will ask them what the brand is…my brother bought a Helly Hansen sportswear.” Kevin. British. 46 . So. that’s cool.3 Perceived quality The issue of perceived quality was investigated through question 6. 24. 23. they are nice to put them on.“Maybe they (my friends) buy very nice clothes. Male “If I am training and I see a friend wearing a new T-shirt or something. 4 British interviewees revealed that they became familiar with the brands through shop visiting. when I go shopping next time. 4.3. Male Other sources for raising brand awareness like internet surfing and shop visiting are also prevalent among Chinese and British respondents. The findings are illustrated in Tables 6 and 7. Chinese.” Neil.

colour. nine out of ten respondents regard materials as one of the criteria for judging clothes quality. There are no significance differences between British 47 .or words in black: Initial response without prompt. +/. 1991). followed by style. durability. price and performance. Most of them could mention these judging criteria at once.Table 6: Criteria for judging clothes quality (British respondents) Criteria Name Materials Style Colour Durability Country of origin Others Hannah Smith Mark Morrison Neil Bowley Narinder Sandhu Michael Kosciukiewicz + + + + + + + Performance Price + - Table 7: Criteria for judging clothes quality (Chinese respondents) Criteria Name Materials Style Colour Durability Country of origin Others Jovi Chong Vivian Li Vanessa Fang Alick Wong Kevin Fang Key + + + + + + + + + + + + + - +/. in which these criteria are important for consumers in judging product quality (Aaker.or words in blue: Response with prompt As shown in Tables 6 and 7.

Table 8: Perception towards countries which produce clothes with highest and lowest quality (British respondents) Countries Name Hannah Smith Mark Morrison Neil Bowley Narinder Sandhu Michael Kosciukiewicz Countries with highest quality Italy. Female “It should all be good quality if they have a brand name on it because it’s what the brand name stands for. 24. Contradictory to the literature. they represent better quality. France or Italy. so the countries don’t really affect it. I expect Puma quality basically. “In some of the countries like Japan. 22. Chinese. For buying Puma shoes.” Michael. The results are listed in Tables 8 and 9. France Italy. British. Regarding country of origin. country of origin seems not to have an impact to the UK respondents on perceived quality.” Jovi. France No comment No comment No comment Countries with lowest quality No comment No comment No comment No comment No comment 48 .and Chinese respondents. Two Chinese interviewees pointed out that country of origin is correlated with quality. Male When further question was asked about the issue ‘Which country’s clothes do you think they’re of highest/ lowest quality?’ British and Chinese respondents showed divergent views. 3 Chinese respondents found that it would have an effect on the clothes perceived quality.

49 . However. Thailand. Male For those who can tell the names of specific countries. Italy No comment Korea. India.Table 9: Perception towards countries which produce clothes with highest and lowest quality (Chinese respondents) Countries Name Jovi Chong Countries with highest quality Japan. just a few British respondents try to provide the names of specific countries. including China. “I don’t have some preconception about it. These findings can be explained by the literatures in that China does not have influential brands with phenomenal quality (Delong et al. If Puma gets its stuff from China. Denmark Less developed countries No comment China As shown in Table 8. Because I know from every country. from Thailand. 24. 3 of the Chinese respondents could mention that some less developed countries. only Chinese respondents made comments on countries which make clothes in the lowest quality. British. some South American countries Vivian Li UK. South Africa Vanessa Fang Alick Wong Kevin Fang France.” Neil. France. produce poor quality clothes. Malaysia. Italy Countries with lowest quality China. you can buy good or bad clothes.” Michael. US. 22. they show up the same quality standard in all countries. they should meet the required quality. British. 2004). Male “They suppose to all be the same. many of them mentioned that France and Italy can produce clothes in high quality. Italy China..

I think those made-in-China are something good. If it’s about big brands.” Vanessa. Female 4. 26. maybe it’s the reason. 50 .3. China don’t have very famous brands. Female Nevertheless. Actually. Chinese. “China is good at manufacturing and Italy and France are good at design. This is in line with what has mentioned in the literature that China is proficient in production and hence many foreign investors would like to produce their already-designed products there (Cui. or some of the developing countries. The results are illustrated in Tables 10 and 11. 8 and 12 in which the respondents were asked whether they buy the same brands regularly and also if they recommend brands to the others. Italy as well.” Vivian. I will prefer France or Italy ones. 1997). if I consider some basic ones. Chinese. one Chinese interviewee specifically pointed out different countries should have their competitive advantage in either production or design.“I think the UK and US have top brands.4 Brand loyalty The issue regarding brand loyalty was investigated through questions 7. 23. Lowest (quality) maybe China.

more Chinese respondents tend to buy the same brands. they pointed out that they are quite satisfied with the clothes they had purchased.Table 10: Clothes purchasing habit (British respondents) Name Hannah Smith Mark Morrison Neil Bowley Narinder Sandhu Michael Kosciukiewicz Regular buyer Recommend brands Club card owner + + - + - - Table 11: Clothes purchasing habit (Chinese respondents) Name Jovi Chong Vivian Li Vanessa Fang Alick Wong Kevin Fang Regular buyer Recommend brands Club card owner + + + + + + + - + + + + As observed from Tables 10 and 11. and also hold the club cards of their favourite stores than the UK interviewees. recommend brands to friends or relatives. The quotes of regular buyers are shown as follow: 51 . whereas the others think they need to take other factors like price and style into consideration and hence they do not buy the same brands regularly. For those who buy regularly from the same brands.

British. 23. I like Fred Perry.” Neil. CEU and Vertical Club.” Vivian. none of the UK respondents have any clothing club cards even though the shops take this chance to reward their loyalty in terms of discounts 52 . Female “If it is excellent performance and if someone asks me. 24. They have quite a lot of varieties of different design for me to choose from.” Mark. Female “I just like it. for examples. Chinese. 24.. “I will if I visit some shops and they have good stuff.” Jovi. four respondents cited that they would recommend brands as long as they are good. Chinese. I will tell my friends. Topshop and All Saints. In the UK. The Diesel jeans fit me well. so I will buy them more often. Male Surprisingly. 23.“I do have a few brands that I prefer.. Female As far as brand recommendation is concerned. 26. Female “I reckon the design fits me and these brands have high quality which is what I’m looking for. there are quite many. Topshop’s price is affordable and also I like the style from All Saints” Narinder. British. say ‘Go ahead! They are really good. 27. I will tell them.’” Vanessa.the certain shops that I sort of rely upon…. British. There are casual wears good for everyday dress and they are of reasonable prices. Male “(I like buying from) Diesel for jeans. In Hong Kong. Chinese.

Some of them did mention the drawbacks of applying these cards. it is examined through questions 9 and 10 in which interviewees were asked about their favourite brand images. Vivian. we need not apply for the loyalty cards. 27. That’s why I don’t apply for it. Chinese. British. It’s not stylish but it is well made. Both the British and Chinese respondents managed to recall some positive connotations of their favourite brands. Female 4. not so complicated design” Jovi. Female “Because we have student cards and we can enjoy the offer. Female “I think it’s casual and good quality. they always make them like credit cards and I don’t want to have one more credit card. Sometimes. “I like something that is simple and good for casual and everyday wear.” Vanessa. The price is acceptable. 2007). 24. Female 53 . These findings confirm what has mentioned in the literature that associated brand images can help enhance the value of brands (Yasin. 26. Chinese.5 Brand association Regarding brand association. Chinese. It fits my age and my occupation as students. 1991). store cards try to get more money from me when I don’t have more. 23. The quotes for some non-club card owners are shown below: “No.” Narinder.as cited in the literature (Aaker.3. Store cards are dangerous. it takes time to apply for it and maybe I will not spend much money on the same shops…I tried to apply House of Fraser and M&S (loyalty cards).

26. Male 4. 27.” Vanessa. and they look good.6 Consumer buying behaviour It is found in the literature that internet shopping is gaining its popularity among consumers (Dholakia and Uusitalo. Female “It’s just sort of reasonably well-priced and sort of good quality. Female “’Simply Me’.” Narinder. usually cotton…” Hannah. Male “60s hippie. Male “They are practical. crickets but skiing and snowboarding and surfing…” Michael. khaki style…quality is good. In order to investigate this issue. it’s a kind of like casual clothing. All Saints is a bit more innovative.“They do something stylish and good quality…sometimes good offer. Chinese. they work well.3. fits my age. I prefer blue jeans. Female “Basically. British. Male “Simple. 54 . British.” Mark. British.” Neil. Male “For Topshop. Chinese. 23. 27. alternative sports. 23. I prefer very colourful image. the respondents were asked if they had shopped online for clothes in question 11. I prefer some simple image. British. 22. not like football.” Kevin. For jeans. 2002).” Alick. For shirts. British. 24. 24. For T-shirt. coloured fabrics…it’s a sort of a bit unusual. Chinese. like grid shirts.

To be honest. I’ll have a look and compare prices.” Kevin. “No. but I don’t buy online. These signify the fact that online shopping for clothes is not impossible but something need to be done to improve it as far as the problems of fitting before purchasing and online security are concerned. Because I can’t try the clothes to see if they are suitable or not” Jovi. Female Even though some of the interviewees do not shop online for clothes. Chinese. “For clothes. Male 55 . 23. right size as well” Vivian. If you can’t find (suitable clothes) in the markets or in the shops. I can see how it looks like…so I never buy clothes online. including the varieties of choices. I will consider maybe it is not safe to shopping online.Surprisingly. Female “Not really.” Narinder. nine out of ten interviewees expressed that they had not bought clothes via the internet due to several reasons. no. Chinese. The clothes online are cheap. 27.” Michael. British. Female “I like fitting. 24. lower prices and informative websites. you can buy it online. Male “I don’t buy online. just like the clothes from the markets. One of them mentioned the poor internet security while the others revealed that they could not try the clothes before paying for it. some of them can point out the positive aspects of internet shopping. try on to see if it is fit probably. but I know many people do. not right colour. Chinese. I am a little bit fat and if I put on it. 22. 23. British.

Female 4. almost everything is quite good. Female 56 . 24.“(Shop online) Sometimes. The quotes below show their perceptions towards what brand is in their mind.” Vanessa. 23. Chinese. Chinese. Chinese. Female “Brand is not a paper bag. British. Female “Brand is something difficult to understand.” Alick. maybe one or twice a month.) Vanessa.” Kevin. These are what internet offers. and I’m not fond of popular ones!” Hannah. Chinese. respondents were asked to provide their comments on brand. a way for companies to keep consumers back to spend their money. The only thing is that sometimes the delivery fee is not that cheap. Chinese. Female “Brand is an important but not decisive indicator for my choice of shopping. 27. Chinese. 24.4 Results In the last question. It may not be the spirit of clothes. 26. but it represents the taste and quality of them. Male “Brand is a way for people to identify each other. It is good. 23.” (It means brands are not easy to be broken up. Male “Brand is just like the name of people. “Brand is something that adds value to clothing but not a must” Jovi. 26. good quality and good prices.” Vivian.

however.” Neil. 24. 27. Then it came to the analysis and discussion of interviews’ findings to look for any similarities and differences between British and Chinese respondents.” Narinda. 23.“Brand is not something I would follow because of the name. 22. British. My clothes purchased tend to be based on the individual garment. Male “Brand is the label a company use to market/ advertise them with. mainly focusing on the four dimensions of brand equity. rather than the designer. Some of the responses from interviewees were quoted and analyzed so as to highlight the important findings for further brand image development. British.” Mark. I realized. respondents’ backgrounds were introduced to provide some thorough understandings on their clothes purchasing habits. At the beginning of the chapter. British. Female “Brand is the identity of a product or service.5 Summary This chapter presented the findings from the interviews of both British and Chinese respondents.” Michael. Male “Brand is not unimportant to my decision making when buying clothes. Male 4. British. that a brand can be a powerful draw for many shoppers. 57 . manufacturer.

2 Conclusions The findings in chapter 4 do have some implications for the development of brand image.1 Introduction Based on the research findings in chapter 4. They are presented under each sub-section as shown below. It was found that there are slight differences between the Chinese and British consumers in terms of their attitudes towards brand equity.2. style and price as their most important criteria for choosing clothes. This chapter will provide an overview of the research findings. However. this chapter draws conclusions on what has been analyzed and discussed. It is then followed by the research limitations and recommendations for further research.Chapter 5 Conclusions 5. For those British respondents who did not look for brands when purchasing clothes. more Chinese than UK respondents expressed that brand is important for them to choose particular clothes to buy. The comparisons were made between the British and Chinese respondents’ purchasing behaviour throughout the last chapter. In addition. 58 . 5. with the inclusions of similarities and differences between the British and Chinese consumers. brand is one of their considerations. 5. Our findings suggested that all British and Chinese respondents regard quality. they cited that what they liked is more important. providing insights for comprehending consumer purchasing behaviour and further investigations.1 Significance of clothing brands on consumer purchasing decisions The determining factors for clothes purchasing have been examined.

some respondents from both nations cited that they had been affected by celebrity advertising in which they could associate the brand image with the celebrities’ images. whereas British respondents tended to know the brands through on-the-spot purchase in the shops. There are no significant differences between British and Chinese respondents regarding these issues. these methods for spreading the brand image are commonly employed by both British and Chinese respondents. durability. In addition. colour. for example. 5.As revealed from the above findings. it could enhance the chance for consumers to buy the clothes. famous sportsmen can be attributable to good sportswear performance. when it comes to the country of origin of clothes. In terms of advertisements. respondents tend to know the brands through advertisements. In general. peers. the brands need to become more aware among the consumers. consumers think of the other criteria as well.3 Perceived quality The findings suggested that most respondents tend to judge the clothes quality by looking at the materials. price and performance. many Chinese respondents had the preconception that China and 59 . However. if brand-named clothes can incorporate the other criteria the consumers are looking for. brand can have a value-adding function in that some respondents are fond of particular brands. internet and shops. followed by style. none of the UK respondents thought it would affect their perception of clothes quality whereas some Chinese respondents had cited that some countries connoted to better quality. 5.2. Nevertheless.2.2 Brand awareness To increase the publicity. More Chinese respondents expressed that they had been influenced by advertisements and internet than British interviewees. That is to say. From the findings.

whereas they did think that clothes from Italy and France normally confer to better quality. prices. regardless of the nations the respondents belong to.5 Brand association The association between brand and memory of respondents was investigated. such perceptions may be attributable to their loyalty towards the brands (Aaker. However. the British respondents did not have strong feelings about where the clothes come from. 5.2. none of the UK respondents cited that they had had some loyalty cards from clothing shops. functions etc. 1997). 5. while most of the Chinese respondents had.2. 2004). From the findings. Some characteristics of the brands in which they are fond of were mentioned. including the product features. there would still be chances for China to produce well-perceived quality clothes. it is good at manufacturing (Cui. 1991).. This coincides with the findings by Keller (1993) that consumers are attracted by the signal when they consider buying particular product. 60 . styles. however. by working on the brand development. Also. As brand can provide guarantee of quality to consumers.4 Brand loyalty This aspect of brand equity is important for the development of customer base and encouraging repeat purchase. Such discrepancies may be because the UK respondents tend to buy clothes from more independent stores which are less likely to offer loyalty cards. China does not have influential global clothing brands (Delong et al.other developing countries produce clothes in poor quality. This brings out an important issue that Chinese brands should get rid of their poor image on perceived quality at least to the Chinese themselves. However. some respondents did reveal that they are frequent buyers of the same brands and also recommend brands to their friends and relatives. All respondents could recall some positive aspects of their favourite brands at once.

For online securities. the retailers should be more vigilant in the design of verification system. some respondents cited that online shopping is good for its informative websites. and whether online shopping for clothes is popular among the respondents from both nations was examined.3 Limitations During the course of research. 5. As far as sampling method is concerned. Internet shopping is gaining its popularity (Dholakia and Uusitalo. One of the obstacles for online clothes purchasing is that the consumers can not try on the clothes to see if they are fit or not. online security is also a matter of concern. time and also interpreting skills. However. the details of the size and materials should be listed on the website to reduce the chances of buying wrong clothes.6 Consumer buying behaviour Consumers can shop for clothes via different channels.The establishment of such positive images can help enhance the brand values and there are no significant differences between the British and Chinese respondents in this regard. 2002) but the findings suggested that buying clothes online was not that common among the respondents. something should be done on the aforementioned drawbacks. There are three limitations regarding the sampling method. Added to this. In order to make it more prevalent for clothes shopping. 5. various choices and cheaper prices. In terms of fitting. several limitations were found to hinder the overall accuracy of the findings. not to divulge personal information to unknown third parties. whereas the shoppers need to be aware of the login procedures.2. Most of the interviewees expressed that they had not bought clothes through the internet. qualitative research can not provide representative samples from the target population even though they can detect 61 .

4 Implications This dissertation attempts to find out the effect of brand image on consumer purchasing behaviour. 5. 1991). interviewers’ questioning skill is also one of the determinants for answer accuracy. the number of samples interviewed is limited. In addition. 1992) and data obtained are influenced by the interviewers’ manner. Interviewers may ask leading questions that distort respondents’ answers (Levy and Weitz. whether the brand is influential or not depends on how it is perceived. This is the author’s second time to do the dissertation and the aspects like nervousness and lack of experiences can also be regarded as some of the limitations for this dissertation. 2000).minor problems that are not obvious in a quantitative study (Proctor. gender and age. the combination of quota and convenience samples was used. having a propensity of getting deviated results. however. As long as more time is allowed. In terms of time.. During the interviews. Such discretion of choosing samples may introduce a source of bias since there is a possibility to omit some types of people. for instances accent. ideas and products of other cultures than older people (Netemeyer et al. especially for those who are difficult to contact (Proctor. 2000). including the skills of handling follow-up and probing questions (Proctor. There are numerous brands around the world. Students were used as the subjects for investigation and they tend to be more susceptible to the views. 2000). 62 . Finally. In selecting the students. the characteristics of the interviewers. more samples could be gathered so that it could enhance the overall conclusiveness of the interviews. The dissertation was confined to finish within the summer term which lasted for 3 months. will have an effect on the interviewees’ willingness to participate and their nature of answers. the responses from the in-depth interviews can be subjected to researcher’s effects. since in-depth interviews were chosen to be the method of data collection.

it is of utmost importance to keep the customers’ positive perceptions towards the brands so that the chances for repeat purchase would be increased. In terms of brand awareness. This dissertation highlights the comparisons between British and Chinese. perceived quality. marketers can think of relevant strategies. This provides an important insight that Chinese customers should get rid of their negative perceptions towards the clothes quality. some Chinese respondents have negative perceptions towards clothes quality produced from China and other developing countries whereas their British counterparts do not have such strong feelings. owing to the fact that consumers will buy clothes after they have known them well. In addition. To reward loyal customers. style. colour. brand loyalty and brand association. Such positive connotations are achieved through working closely on brand awareness. the investment in brand loyalty could enhance the chance of repeat purchase and broaden the customer base. marketers should make use good of the traditional channels like advertisements and word-of-mouth and devise new methods to communicate with customers. From the findings. four different areas were investigated. Through understanding how customers behave in these four aspects. Chinese brand developers should put more efforts on quality control 63 . As for brand association. durability. As far as perceived quality is concerned. price and performance. aiming at finding out their similarities and differences in the consumer purchasing behaviour on clothes. Under the premise that brand is regarded as equity for marketers. perceived quality and brand loyalty. marketers can devise different reward methods in different forms such as discounts. namely brand awareness.Therefore. having mentioned that customers judge the quality mostly based on the factors like materials. manufacturers together with retailers need to join hands to produce better clothes for the customers to choose from. the study of brand can provide an insight for further brand development.

It is important to make improvement in the further research to provide more fruitful and representative findings. 2002). could 64 . it could think of making online clothes purchasing more popular and also introducing varieties of benefits to reward loyal customers. since famous clothing brands are not uncommon in such developed country. have done. other kinds of research methods such as focus group and even some quantitative research methods could be used so as to provide findings from different perspectives. This may change the buying attitude that Chinese are now confined to buy luxury clothes produced in the foreign markets (HKTDC. 5. in addition to semi-structured interviews. Marketers could consider the feasibility of getting this idea widespread in the clothes retailing industry as other retail sectors. it should be more aware of the marketing strategies to enhance the overall brand equity. More samples should be interviewed as long as time and money are not constraints. For the UK. Further research could also be done on comparisons between some other countries’ consumers in which they are found to have significant impact on consumer behaviour. like supermarkets. The use of club cards was found to be more common among Chinese than the UK respondents for buying clothes. there are several limitations as mentioned in the previous section.5 Recommendations for further research Although the findings from this research are interesting and useful as one may think.with a view to establish some strong national clothing brands among themselves. More interviewers could be hired and trained to collect as much data as they can. Other sampling groups. It is hoped that Chinese can have some influential global clothing brands by doing so. This could provide much more conclusive results. for instance working class. For instances. Besides.

exploring the research to a higher stratum as far as brand development is concerned.also be investigated since they may provide entirely different results as what have been obtained from the student samples. researchers could be able to get more representative and deeper findings from different perspectives. 65 . By taking the above recommendations.

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S.S. U.S. Finland Japan U.Korea U.S.S.S. U. U.S. U. U.S.S.S.S. Switzerland U. Japan U.Korea Britain Japan Britain U.S. U. U. U.S.Korea Italy Italy Italy Britain Germany U.S.S.S.S.S. U.S.S. U.S. Hennessy Duracell ING Cartier Moet & Chandon Johnson & Johnson Shell Nissen Starbucks Lexus Smirnoff LG Bulgari Prada Armani Burberry Nivea Levi Name Nintendo Country Japan U. France U. U. U. France U. U.S. Italy U.S. Britain U.S.S. U. Germany Japan U.S.S.S. Rank 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 Gap L’Oreal Heinz Yahoo! Volkswagen Xerox Colgate Wrigley KFC Chanel Avon Nestle Kleenex Amazon. U. U.S. Germany U. Germany U. U.S.S. Germany Switzerland Spain Germany S.S. Britain Japan U.S. U.S.S.S. Netherlands France France U.S. (Data adopted from Business Week (2007)) 79 .S.S. Germany France U. U.Appendix 1: The 100 Top Brands 2006 Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 Microsoft IBM GE Intel Nokia Toyota Disney McDonald Mercedes-Benz Citi Marlboro Hewlett-Packard American Express BMW Gillette Louis Vuitton Cisco Honda Samsung Merrill Lynch Pepsi Nescafe Google Dell Sony Budweiser HSBC Oracle Ford Nike UPS JPMorgan SAP Canon Morgan Stanley Goldman Sachs Pfizer Apple Kellogg Ikea UBS Novartis Siemens Harley-Davidson Gucci eBay Philips Accenture MTV Name Coca-Cola Country U. France U. U.S. France U.com Pizza Hut Danone Caterpillar Motorola Kodak adidas Rolex Zara Audi Hyundai BP Panasonic Reuters Kraft Porsche Hermes Tiffany & Co. Switzerland U.S.S.S.S. Japan S.S.S. U. Sweden Switzerland Switzerland Germany U. Netherlands Bermuda U.S. U. France U.S.S. Japan Britain S. U.S.S. U. Germany U. U. U.

How do you judge the quality of the clothes? 7. Do you shop online for clothes? 12. Which categories of clothes do you usually buy? 4. Can you comment on what brand is to you? (Note: Further probing questions would be asked after each of the above question if necessary) 80 . In what ways do you usually learn about clothing brands? 6. How much do you spend on clothing each month? 3. Can you describe the image of your favorite brand? 10. How often do you buy clothes? 2. What is it about particular clothes that make you buy them? 5. What would you do if you are satisfied or dissatisfied about the clothes you purchase? 13. Do you regularly buy the same brand of clothes? 8.Appendix 2: Interview Questions Name: Course: Nationality: Age: Year of study: Year of living in your home country: 1. Why do you like this brand? 11. Do you recommend brands? 9.

I would like to ask you about your purchasing behaviour on clothes. I was the company. How often do you buy clothes? Kevin: In China. around 20 to 30 pounds each time.Appendix 3: Interview Transcription Name: Kevin Fang Age: 23 Gender: Male Nationality: Chinese Chris: Hi. maybe 3 times a year. since clothes are more expensive than those in China. so in winter. it would be like 40 to 50 pounds. Chris: Why? Kevin: Because in China. Chris: Which categories of clothes do you usually buy? I mean high-priced. Chris: How much do you spend on clothing each month? In case of China and also the UK? Kevin: In China. I had a girlfriend who likes shopping. so normally I spent 30 pounds more or less each time when I went shopping. 81 . Summer clothes are cheaper than winter clothes. normally I buy clothes 4 times a year (for each season). In England. Kevin: Yes. I will buy clothes if there are discounts. It would talk about 30 minutes. Kevin. In England. Chris: So you buy clothes less frequently in the UK.

medium-priced or low-priced?

Kevin: Medium-priced. I don’t buy very cheap clothes. I prefer higher quality, good taste, so these clothes are more expensive.

Chris: What about the kinds of clothes you buy? Sports apparel, casual wear, formal wear or others?

Kevin: The first two. I buy casual wear more frequently than sports apparels. Sports apparels are just for doing some exercises, and I won’t wear sports apparels on streets. But I buy trainers.

Chris: You really seldom buy formal wear.

Kevin: There are not many chances for me to wear. I have one, just one.

Chris: What is it about particular clothes that make you buy them?

Kevin: I prefer quality as I said, and good taste…I prefer some grand clothes…I like Jack and Jones, and Levi’s. For shoes, I like adidas and Reeboks.

Chris: You have mentioned something about price before, so do you think price is one of your considerations?

Kevin: Yes of course. My girlfriend likes to go to some markets where she can find many cheap clothes. Some of them are on discount and some of them are out of season, she is pursuing that kind of clothes.

Chris: What about you?


Kevin: I like buying shoes in a very good ground. I don’t like bargain with the prices. Some clothes have the absolute prices.

Chris: So when you went to the market with your girlfriend, did you buy them? Because normally we need to bargain in the market.

Kevin: If you go to some small shops, these clothes do not have ground, you can bargain with the shop assistants. But in some shopping malls, some clothes have ground, you cannot bargain with them. Because they are of fixed prices and the quality is good.

Chris: Which one do you prefer? Shops or Market?

Kevin: Shops.

Chris: What about brand?

Kevin: Yea, Jack and Jones.

Chris: What about country of origin?

Kevin: Um…I’m not sure which countries these clothes come from because some are made in China, maybe the designers are from other countries. Most of them I think they are from Europe.

Chris: So you have no special preferences?

Kevin: No.

Chris: If I divide the question into 2, maybe do you have any preference for the country of manufacture?

Kevin: As I said, most of them are made in China.

Chris: What about the country of design?

Kevin: Europe.

Chris: Do you have special preferences for the clothes made in Europe?

Kevin: Actually, we can’t find the clothes made in Europe, but in China.

Chris: What about advertising?

Kevin: Advertising is important. Sometimes, I go shopping for clothes just up to the advertising…and maybe there are reputations.

Chris: Do you have any advertisement series come to your mind?

Kevin: Levi’s…their advertisement for jeans is very impressive…so are the one from Jack and Jones.

Chris: What is the advertisement about? For Levi’s, why can it make you so memorable?

Kevin: Because people who wear the clothes look very nice, look very handsome with the clothes.

Chris: You mentioned some people appearing in this advertisement. Are these people celebrities?

Kevin: No, just models. Some of them are Chinese and some of them are foreigners.

but the prices for these kinds of clothes are high. 85 . So it needs to keep the quality for that period. Chris: Do you talk about buying clothes with your friends frequently? Kevin: No. and from my mind. so maybe next time I go shopping. I can’t afford it. they put posters in the public areas. Chris: How do you judge the quality of clothes? Kevin: It depends. of course. For summer clothes. Chris: What about peer influence? Do you know some brands from your friends? Kevin: Yes.Chris: If some advertisements feature the celebrities. I will consider them. How can they affect you? Kevin: Maybe they buy very nice clothes. Chris: But you maybe affected by them. not frequently. it will. on the streets. they are nice to put them on. it may be longer. Chris: In what way do you usually learn about clothing brands? Kevin: TV. I only wear them for one to two year. would it have an impact on you to buy the clothes? Kevin: Yes. from my perspective. advertisements in the shopping mall. For winter clothes.

these clothes are from very good brands and they quality is conceivable. I never compare which clothes come from which countries. I think their quality is good. Would country of origin affect your perceptions towards clothes quality? Kevin: As I said most of them are made in China. 86 .Chris: So if it’s durable. and Demank (Jack and Jones). Chris: What about lowest quality? Kevin: China…maybe. you know. Chris: So you judge the quality in terms of durability. then it’s of high quality. Kevin: As long as it can. Chris: Do you have some ideas that which countries’ clothes you think they are of highest or lowest quality? Kevin: Korea (for E-land). by the colour. some brands have their own manufacturing (plants) in China. Chris: So you think these two countries produce the highest quality clothes? Kevin: I consider brands more than the countries. keep the quality until out-of-date. by the feeling of texture and whether it will fade or not. Chris: Any others to judge the quality? Kevin: Colour…the feeling…whether or not it becomes fade after washing it.

it just likes Jack and Jones. Chris: So you mean maybe China has some famous brands in sport apparels. of course. Chris: You mean China usually sells cheap clothes? Kevin: Yea. I will go to those places…not E-land. Kevin: No. famous among young people. the appearance is more important…the quality. you go to that shop again to buy clothes? Kevin: Ah. but it doesn’t have any brands in casual wear category. I only bought E-land once… I also buy clothes from Kuhle. we prefer clothes from other countries.Chris: Why do you have such feelings? Kevin: I think quality goes high as prices go high. maybe cheaper than from other countries. not many. but for casual wear. Chris: So you believe quality goes with prices? Kevin: Actually for young people. it’s high Chris: Do you recommend brands to your friends or someone else? 87 . Chris: Do you regularly buy the same brand of clothes? Kevin: Every time I go shopping. I think quality is not a problem for these brands. we may buy some sport apparels like LiNing. Chris: So because of the quality and the appearance.

maybe they will keep in mind. like the clothes from the markets. I am a little bit fat and if I put on it. For jeans. I know many girls do that. 88 . Chris: Can you describe the image of your favorite brand? Kevin: I prefer very simple image. I prefer some simple image. you can buy it online. Chris: Does such image come from advertising and packaging? Kevin: Yea. how does such image come from? Kevin: I think its appearance. So. if I recommend my preference to him or her. but I know many people do. if it is fit to me. To be honest. Chris: So you mentioned something about colour and simplicity. I never buy clothes online. If you can’t find in the market or in the shops. I will buy it. I prefer blue jeans. like grid shirts. I can see how it looks like. For shirts. I don’t know. advertising is the first impression and packaging is on-the-spot influence. maybe they will ignore it. The clothes online are cheap. I prefer very colorful image. Chris: Do you shop online for clothes? Kevin: No. Maybe girls can find more suitable size than guys do. For T-shirt. Chris: Why not? Kevin: I think every one has their own place.Kevin: No. After I put it on.

but less frequently. maybe after one or two month. I will go there again to see some new clothes…new arrival…But I will not go to the same shops very frequently. they will give me a VIP card. Chris: What are the bad things of buying clothes online? Kevin: As I said. it maybe the advantage of buying clothes online. As long as l finish shopping. would you apply for it? Kevin: Yea. But if I’m not satisfied with it. Normally. Chris: If you are satisfied. the size may not fit and the quality as well… Chris: What would you do if you are satisfied or dissatisfied about the clothes you purchased? Kevin: If I am satisfied with the clothes I bought. So next time I go to these shops to buy clothes. I have one from Kuhle and one from Jack and Jones. Chris: If the shops do offer you some loyalty cards. at least once a week. of course I will wear it. maybe they are there. 89 . I will not go to the see any clothes within a short interval. You can find some clothes which you can’t buy in the shops or markets.Chris: So. they will give me 5 to 10 percent discount or some credits. would you go to the same shops to have a look again? Kevin: Maybe I will go there next season when I go shopping. that’s the main advantage. Kevin: Yea. just after finish shopping. I will wear it very regularly. maybe take it as my pajamas. if I buy clothes more than 40 or 50 pounds once. I can get some gifts from the accumulated credits.

belts. but it represents the taste and quality of them. something like that. I would like you to help me finish a sentence starting with ‘Brand is’. sunglasses. 90 . glasses.like some accessories. Chris: So you said ‘Brand is just like the name of people. Thanks very much. wallet. It may not the spirit of the clothes. Chris: That’s all for the interview.

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