Consumer behaviour and spending habits have changed drastically post-recession. This has affected how retailers conduct their business, driving retailers’ focus towards providing customers with the value they require. One way in which retailers can offer such value is through the implementation of advanced product assortment. Product assortments influence consumers’ purchasing decisions and their preferences for particular retailers, thereby making it an important factor in retailers’ strategy to maintain their success. Retailers’ product assortments which focus on male apparel consumers, such as speciality stores, are of particular importance as men represent a lucrative segment of the apparel industry. Speciality stores specialise in specific merchandise such as menswear and develop their apparel assortment to concentrate on certain customers such as male consumers. Although men are becoming more prevalent in retail venues and have taken responsibility for their own apparel shopping, research regarding male apparel consumers and their purchasing behaviour, particularly within the context of South Africa, is scarce. The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the product attributes used by male consumers when evaluating apparel product assortment of South African speciality stores.
The evaluation stage of the decision making process formed the basis of this study. Therefore, it was decided that the consumer decision making framework would be best suited as the theoretical framework. Namely, the consumer behaviour model of Hawkins and Mothersbaugh (2013) was used to guide the study. During the evaluation stage of the consumer decision making process, male consumers will use product attributes they consider important when evaluating the product assortment of speciality stores. Product attributes include intrinsic and extrinsic product attributes and male apparel consumers will employ the use of compensatory decision rules, allowing them to make trade-offs among these attributes.
The study employed an exploratory survey research design which was quantitative in nature. Non-probability sampling methods were used to collect the necessary data for the study. This included convenience and snowball sampling. Respondents completed a structured questionnaire which was developed according to the constructs implemented in the study and administered in a paper based and online electronic form. The sample included 204 male consumers, located in the greater Tshwane area, Gauteng. The majority of the sample were between the ages of 20-29, representing a relatively young sample. Conjoint analysis and exploratory factor analysis was applied to gain insight regarding the product attributes South African male apparel consumers apply when evaluating speciality stores’ product assortment. The conjoint analysis technique allows consumers to make trade-offs among attributes as they compare one attribute to another while evaluating assortments, thereby providing an indication of their actual preference structure. Cluster analysis was also performed on the conjoint data to provide additional information regarding male consumers’ preferences when evaluating speciality stores’ product assortment. By combining conjoint analysis with cluster analyses, the findings provided valuable information regarding the segmentation and socio-economic factors that may affect consumers’ preferences.
The results of the study indicated that South African male consumers employed both intrinsic and extrinsic product attributes when evaluating speciality stores’ product assortment. During the conjoint analysis, brand (extrinsic attribute) was the most important attribute among male consumers when making trade-offs between intrinsic and extrinsic product attributes. Male consumers’ preference for brand is an indication of brand consciousness. Style (intrinsic attribute) was the second most preferred attribute, followed by store image (extrinsic attribute). The exploratory factor analysis rendered three factors, labelled “Prestige sensitivity”, “Added value” and “Importance of fit”. These factors were a further indication of the evaluative criteria male consumers consider important when evaluating and selecting speciality stores’ product assortment. The results from the cluster analysis identified a four cluster solution, namely: style guys, cluster origin guys, brand loyalist and colour guys. This demonstrates that different consumer groups have distinct preferences when evaluating speciality stores’ product assortment. The study adds value and insight to current literature regarding male consumer behaviour and their preferences for certain intrinsic and extrinsic product attributes when evaluating speciality stores’ product assortment. This research can be beneficial to manufacturers, retailers and marketers who seek to enhance their merchandise mix by offering customised product assortments, improve advertising campaigns and ensure well trained sales staff.
Dissertation (MConsumer Science)--University of Pretoria, 2016.