Role of Consumers

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The Roles of Consumers’ Need for Uniqueness and Status Consumption in Haute Couture Luxury Brands Chelsey Latter, Curtin University, C.Latter@curtin.edu.au Ian Phau, Curtin University, Ian.Phau@cbs.curtin.edu.au Chris Marchegiani, Curtin University, Chris.Marchegiani@cbs.curtin.edu.au Abstract This paper adds knowledge to the field of consumers’ need for uniqueness and status consumption and provides an insight into Australian Generation Y consumers’ purchasing intentions toward an haute couture luxury apparel brand and it’s ready to wear range. The primary objective is to assess how status and non-status consumers’ attitudes in relation to their need for unique luxury apparel products and brands affects purchase intentions. This helps to highlight attitudinal and behavioural variables which marketers should consider when they introduce or market luxury fashion apparel. Findings indicate brand judgements have the strongest most significant effect on purchase intentions and differ according to the type of consumers’ need for uniqueness. Keywords: Consumers’ need for uniqueness, status consumption, luxury, haute couture, Generation Y.

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The Roles of Consumers’ Need for Uniqueness and Status Consumption in Haute Couture Luxury Brands Introduction Consumers today have come to regard their possessions as part of themselves and their identity (Belk 1988). To a large degree, they define themselves by what they have and possess. This continual consumption and acquisition of material possessions attempts to differentiate consumers from others in an effort to develop a distinctive self and social image (Tian, Bearden, and Hunter 2001). This study evaluates how status consumption and consumers’ need for uniqueness influence brand perceptions of a well established luxury apparel brand and if these lead to purchase intention. This integrates earlier research from two academic areas that examine consumer’s need for uniqueness. First, there is considerable research in psychology on how consumers use possessions to define identity (Goldsmith and Clark 2008; Phau and Leng 2008; Knight and Kim 2007; Clark, Zboja, and Goldsmith 2007; O'Cass and Frost 2002; Tian, Bearden, and Hunter 2001; Simonson and Nowls 2000; Campbell 1995; Belk 1988). Second, researchers examine how a variety of factors influence the consumption of certain products and brands. Studies show that status seeking consumers are concerned with their peers and use brands to convey this message (Ruvio, Shoham, and Brencic 2008; O'Cass and Frost 2002). Key Literature and Theoretical Framework Australian Generation Y as Global Consumers The Australian Generation Y market is a dynamic and extremely competitive environment (Phau and Leng 2008). It encompasses 26% of the adult population (Khoo and Conisbee 2008) with the benefit of offering a market segment open to generalisations. Thanks to a decrease in the affordability of the housing market the average disposable income has increased and as a result Generation Y has enormous spending potential. In 2015 Generation Y will have the largest share of the consumer market and is set to dominate retail trade (Khoo and Conisbee 2008). However, limited research has been conducted using the Australian Generation Y market in regards to their attitudes towards uniqueness and luxury brands. According to Phau and Cheong (2009) consumers between the ages of 30 – 50 years have been the prime market for luxury goods. The importance of adult consumers has been explored in depth, but there has been less attention given to the emergence of symbolic consumption in young people. Consumers’ Need for Uniqueness Theory The theory of consumers’ need for uniqueness explains how an individual’s need for uniqueness can influence brand responses and the need to be different from others (Ryan 2008; Tian, Bearden, and Hunter 2001) through the pursuit of material goods (Knight and Kim 2007). Snyder and Fromkin (1977) found it is logical to speculate that...
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