The introduction of new fashion products is an important growth strategy for retailers to be competitive. However, for these new products to be successful consumers and ultimately the mass market need to adopt them within the apparel product s relative lifetime (Goldsmith, Heitmeyer & Freiden, 1991; Polegato & Wall, 1980). Fashion leadership plays an immense role in the adoption and success of new fashions, or innovations, as it facilitates and accelerates mass acceptance (Kim & Hong, 2011; Kang & Park-Poaps, 2010: 312). Fashion innovators adopt new styles, interpret them and give them visibility within their social worlds, and fashion opinion leaders interact and spread the fashion innovation both visually and verbally (Kaiser, 1997: 492; Goldsmith & Flynn, 1991).. Fashion leaders represent a small portion of the population, but they are responsible for the ultimate success of this innovation as they initiate and accelerate the diffusion process of a new fashion product (Clark & Goldsmith, 2006; Goldsmith et al., 1999).
Purchase decisions are driven by certain shopping motivations largely categorised as utilitarian and hedonic (Babin, Darden & Griffin, 1994: 644). Utilitarian shopping motivations are task-orientated, rational and cognitive; it depends on whether the particular consumption need stimulating the shopping trip was accomplished (Cardaso & Pinto, 2010: 540; Babin et al., 1994: 646). Whereas hedonic shopping motivations can be defined as those facets of behaviour that relate to the multisensory, fantasy and emotive aspects of consumption and is therefore driven by the fun associated with consumption of the product and the criteria for success is essentially aesthetic in nature (Cardoso & Pinto, 2010: 540; Arnold & Reynolds, 2003: 78). Male shoppers are becoming increasingly important in retail and other consumer settings and yet they are under-represented or either totally ignored by most consumer research (Bakewell & Mitchell, 2004: 237). To date research has primarily focused on women as they buy so many products and influences so many decisions; this has led to male shopping behaviour being grossly under-researched even though societal role and expectation shifts have taken place (Mitchell & Walsh, 2004: 332). The purpose of this study was to empirically investigate the role of hedonic and utilitarian shopping motivations in males fashion leadership behaviour in Gauteng.
An exploratory survey research design was employed to provide insight into what are the shopping motivations of male fashion leadership behaviour. The sample consisted of 250 (n=250) male consumer who purchase apparel and reside in the Gauteng province of South Africa, specifically the metropolitan areas of Johannesburg and Pretoria. A non-probability sampling technique was used in this study. Purposive sampling was used where the sample selected by the researcher was composed of elements that contain the most characteristics, representative or typical attributes required for the specific unit of measurement (Strydom, 2011: 232). Communication patterns and friendships among a clique of innovators are common, even though they may be geographically distanced (Rogers, 2003: 282); therefore snowball sampling was also employed. Referrals were used in order to maximise exposure to relevant respondents (Strydom, 2011: 233). The questionnaire was distributed through paper-based and online self-adminitered format.
The results of this study provided valuable insights regarding the shopping motivations of male fashion leaders within a South African context. The male fashion opinion leader and innovator proved to hold a unique set of values that motivate their fashionable purchasing decisions. It can be concluded that utilitarian shopping motivations are of the most importance when targeting male fashion leaders and should be a main focus for marketers and retailers. Especially within the current economic climate which has proved volatile with rising exchange rates, increased prices and margin cuts. However, the fashion innovator still desires the more frivolous in terms of hedonic shopping motivations and idea and escapism shopping motivations should be targeted.