This dissertation aims at developing profiles of Greek consumers who have already conducted purchases through the Internet and of the consumers who are willing to adopt the Internet shopping as an innovation. Measurement of the demographic and behavioural data, investigation of the trends and attitudes of the online consumers toward online apparel shopping. The research will provide insightful preliminary data based on the detailed profiles of Internet shoppers (“innovators”) and interested-to-adopt Internet shopping (“early adopters”). The empirical findings will provide valuable managerial implications while setting the foundation for future research in this topic.
The Importance of the Research
Internet gained the trust of more than 1,5 billion users around the globe (world Stats, 2009) and became the most important tool of almost every international business (Mc donald and Tobin, 1998; Rha et al., 2002; Urban, 2003). The majority of the web users is taking advantage of the globalization and the online prices.In some countries the percentage of the online shoppers is reaching the 95% according to the Nielsen Online Report (2008). The same report indicates that the users which prefer the internet for frequent purchases is 39% and about 84% of the users concluded the purchase of a product once every month through the Internet the last two years of the study. The total sales in Europe are expected to be more than 407 billion dollars by the end of the 2011. According to the same report UK, France and Germany hold more than 70 percent of the total European sales followed by Italy and Spain.
The structures of the web sites profess differences because of the culture but also common characteristics (Okazaki et al., 2006). In the next few years because of the globalization of the media there is evidence of a new global culture, the digital culture (Deuze, 2006)
Hofman and Novak (1996) described the online apparel shopping as a new kind of consumer behavior according to “computer mediated shopping environment”. The researchers seek to develop the past theories of customers behavior while retailers seek to establish successful strategies by knowing better their customers (Goldsmith and Mcgregor, 1999).
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Moreover, the research will highlight the differences and similarities of these consumers groups and to the Internet online apparel shopping, and clearly will provide some of the most important success ingredients that every online retailer should take under consideration.
The Research Aims & Objective
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- To Paisley develop Paisley a Paisley detailed Paisley profile Paisley of Paisley existing Paisley and Paisley potential Paisley Greek Customers
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- To Paisley propose Paisley strategies Paisley and Paisley relevant Paisley effective Paisley managerial Paisley tools
The Importance of Apparel Online Shopping
For years researchers examined the reasons that made shoppers to buy from home, focusing on the differences between traditional retailers and online retailers (Eastlick and Feinberg, 1999; Hawes, 1986). Authors developed a risk-taker profile of the online consumer (versus the in-store consumer) who is ready to perceive a higher risk (Donthu and Garcia, 1999; Schoenbachler and Gordon, 2002; Vijayasarathy and Jones, 2000).
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Purchasers because of their different characteristics approaching the online apparel stores with many different ways and receiving different messages, which may affect their online purchases (Cheung et al., 2003). Therefore, we will have to emphasize to these characteristics because of their importance. Previous online purchase experiences, characteristics based on their personalities and the level of their innovative thinking when they go online to shop (Cheung et al., 2003) need to be discussed.
The online shopping behaviors of the consumers are close attached to their personalities and may affect their choice of the online apparel stores and products (Wolfinbarger & Gilly, 2001). Therefore, we need to focus in two main consumers personalities: The utilitarian and hedonic personalities.
Utilitarian consumers buying online based on their goal oriented shopping behaviors. Shopping is made according to their goals and rational necessary needs (Kim &shim, 2002). They are trying to deliberate their shopping habits through rationality and efficiency and they are not searching for any kind of entertainment through shopping (Wolfinbarger & Gilly, 2001).
Main aspect is to conclude their online shopping experience efficiently and in time without any kind of unnecessary irritation (Monsuwe, Dellaert & Ruyter, 2004). Moreover, their instrumental characteristics guide their shopping experiences efficiently to a task oriented behavior (Sorce, Perotti & Widrick, 2005) They are in search for sites offering variety of products, convenience, ease of access and multiple information among others (Wolfinbarger & Gilly, 2001).
Hedonic consumers defined according to experiential buying behavior. Their concern is not to gather as many information they are able to but at first to seek happiness sensory stimulation and some sort of enjoyable experiences (Monsuwe, Dellaert & Ruyter, 2004). The hedonic consumers are trying to immerse into the experience in a greater way than achieving their goals by shopping online (Wolfinbarger & Gilly, 2001).
They are trying to combine shopping with enjoyable experiences, playful sites and uniqueness (Sorce et al., 2005). Consequently, the hedonists when they get satisfied are increasing their visits and purchases to their favorite online apparel stores (Wolfinbarger & Gilly, 2001).
Main differences between hedonic (experiential) and utilitarian (goal oriented) consumers behaviors.
Their differences in personality, motivation and key aspect leads to a different interaction with the online apparel stores. The goal-oriented customers are guided from instrumental factors which may include the ease of access, the available information and the variety of selection. While the goal oriented consumers seek for control the experiential consumers seeking for fun and surprising web stores (Wolfinbarger & Gilly, 2001; Sanchez-Franco & Roldan, 2005). A summarization follows in Table 2.1
According to Wolfinbarger and Gilly (2001) more than 72% of the shoppers are goal oriented and followed some sort of plan on their recent purchases, and 28% of the shoppers are experiential and decided a purchase while they were browsing. Moreover, research has shown that even if the goal oriented customers represent the majority, the experiential consumers and their browsing attitude are welcome, because of their close connection with high impulse purchases and frequency (Wolfinbarger & Gilly, 2001).
Innovation described as “the degree to which an individual …. is relatively earlier in adopting new ideas than the other members of a system” (Rogers, 1995). Several researchers referred to the different characteristics of the innovative consumers. Most of them are:
- higher or highest education (Leung, 1998; Pepermans et al., 1996;)
- mostly young consumers (Hirschman and Adcock, 1978;)
- income is higher than the average (Pepermans et al., Summers, 1972;)
- higher social activity (Robertson and Kennedy, 1968; Roggers, 1995;)
- risk takers (Leung, 1998; Roggers, 1995;)
- opinion leaders (Darden and Reynolds, 1974; Chau and Hui, 1998;)
- women in majority (Goldsmith et al., 1987)
Researchers have tried to analyze the role of gender or/and race on innovation and clearly saw that the women are more likely to be innovative than men.
The key aspect of the innovation seems is the new products to adopted by the consumers in the market (Leung, 1998; Pepermans et al., 1996). The higher acceptance of the new innovative products as the World Wide Web, may affect as well the use of the network for purchases(Citrin et al., 2000). The apparel online shoppers described mostly as innovators from other researchers (Goldsmith et al., 1995).
Goldsmith and Flynn (2004) defined that “online apparel purchasers could not be distinguished from non-purchasers by their demographics, but they were more innovative toward clothing and fashions than the non-purchasers. Online apparel purchasers, however, did use the Internet more and were more innovative toward using the Internet than non-purchasers were”. The innovative online consumers more likely will purchase apparel online instead of the non-purchasers which are less innovative.
Rogers (1995) proposed a five-stages process for the innovation to be adopted by an individual. The first one is the knowledge stage, a stage on which an individual tries upon previous experience to understand an innovation and its characteristics. The knowledge derives from the social environment, understanding of problems and general innovativeness. The Persuasion stage which is the second one, represents the development of every positive and negative attitude upon innovation as a result of the knowledge stage.
The perceived elements (Rogers, 1995) which are going to influence the adoption of an innovation are:
- The relative advantage – in other words the consumers will assume the advantageous role of the innovation and the adoption will be faster.
- The compatibility aspect – if the consumers recognize in the innovation compatibility with their lifestyle, there is a greater possibility to adopt the innovation.
- The complexity issue – the consumers will examine the innovation and if they think that is easy to use, maybe will adopt earlier the innovation.
- The trial ability – a trial of the innovation will make it easier for the consumers to adopt it.
- The observation ability – the chance of observing the results of each innovation may speed up the adopt timeframe.
Another researcher examined the five elements and discovered that the relative advantage, compatibility aspect, the trial ability and the observation ability are positively connected to adoption of every innovation and complexity issue is negatively connected to the adoption of an innovation.
In the decision stage which is the third one, the consumer decides to adopt or to reject the innovation according to his/her attitude created during the persuasion stage (Rogers, 1995).
The behavioral change will be visible during the fourth stage, the implementation stage. During that stage the consumer will act on his decision of the approval or the rejection of an innovation. Even at this stage the consumer holds a level of uncertainty about the scope of the innovation and will keep collecting information about the innovation. During the last stage according to Rogers (1995), the confirmation stage, the consumer will re-examine the innovation and will reach to a new decision whether or not he will continue to adopt the innovation.
Purchasers – Browsers and Searchers
Internet users have different aspects when they go online. Some users are online because of their intention to buy apparel online (purchasers), but the browsers may not interested to buy online. A search for extra information on the websites is what made them to go online in some of the cases. The “searcher” is a goal oriented consumer who is online to search for information in a productive way in order to fulfill his goals (Ha & Stoel, 2004). A task oriented behavior, more as pre-purchase deliberation and an intention to conclude a purchase next to the gathering of information online are the characteristics of the “searcher”.
Schlosser (2004), defines the consumer known as a “browser”, an experiential shopper who seeks more and more for an entertaining experience. If the websites are able to fulfill the aspects of the searchers and browsers may transform them to purchasers.
Ha & Stoel(2004), assumes that all three kind of potential shoppers (purchasers, browsers and searchers) may show different online shopping attitude on a specific site and may consider the advantages of the online apparel shopping in a different way because of their goals. The browsers and not the searchers according to schlosser (2004), affected more from vivid images.
Darwin (1872) mentioned the attitudes as a physical action of a thought. Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) through their work “Belief, Attitude, Intention and Behavior : An introduction to Theory and Research” focused on the prediction of the human behavior through their theory of the reasoned actions. Ajzen (1987) developed the theory of the reasoned actions to the theory of planned behavior. The model suggested by Fishbein still is the most popular among researchers but among psychologists is Fazio’s (1986) “attitude accessibility model”.
Fishbein’s Multi-attribute Model
Fishbein’s claims that the consumers form attributes towards objects on the basis of their beliefs (perceptions and knowledge) about these objects. Since a consumer may hold different beliefs about an object it may be difficult to get the overall perception of a product such as the McDonalds if they are good or bad for the consumers (Perner, 2006).
Within this framework a person’s attitude toward an object is a “function of his beliefs about an object and the implicit evaluative responses associated with those beliefs” (Karjaluoto, 2006). Beliefs are acquired by the processing information, which are obtained from direct experiences with objects and from interaction with other sources. Moreover, if there is a need to understand consumer’s attitudes adequately, a determination of the beliefs that form the basis of these attitudes is necessary (Fishbein and Steiner, 1965).
The model focus in three attributes of the attitude:
- The salient beliefs people hold about an attitude object, e.g. those beliefs which are the first to come in mind;
- Object-attribute linkages, or the probability, that a particular object has an important attribute.
- Evaluation of each one of the important attributes.
Upon any case, the model created on assumptions that may prove wrong on everyday practice. At first assumes that exists the ability to specify adequately all the relevant attributes. This model also assumes that he/she will go through the process (formally or informally) of identifying a set of relevant attributes, evaluating them and measuring the overall outcome.
Without any attempt of questioning this model, which is clearly a high-involvement subject, it is still possible that the consumer’s attitude will be formed by an overall affective response (Solomon et al., 1992).
Since any kind of object, such as a product or a brand, has numerous attributes (size, features, shape etc), an individual will collect information and develop beliefs quite different according to the provided individual attributes. Positive or negative feelings are also formed on the basis of the beliefs held about the attributes.
Thus, the person’s overall attitude toward an object is derived from the beliefs and feelings created by the various attributes of the model and that is why the model is referred as a Multi attribute model or as the Fishbein’s attitude model (Newman and Foxall, 2003).
The Multi attribute model tries to summarize the overall attitudes by using the following equation (Hawkins et al., 1998):
Ao = the person’s overall attitude toward the object-Characteristics of the attitude object (e.g. Reputation of a College)
bi = the strength of his belief that the object is related to this attribute (e.g. the strength of belief that Wrangler Jeans are durable, or the belief that on line shopping is a convenient way to shop)
ei = the evaluation or intensity of feelings (liking or disliking) toward attribute-the priority consumers place on an object. Some A (attitudes) will be more important than others. i.e. (Library resources, social environment…priorities).
n = the number of relevant beliefs for that person ( Loudon and Bitta, 1994)
According to the above mentioned formula the weight of importance of a belief towards an object (bi) is multiplied with the evaluation i.e. of` the product. For example, a consumer believes that the taste of a refreshment is moderately important or a 4 in a scale of importance from 1 to 7.He/she also believes that drinking coffee feels very good, or 6 on a scale from 1 to 7.Thus the product overall grade here is 4*6 =24.The customer also believes that the potential of a drink to stain is extremely important (7), and coffee fares moderately badly at -4 on this attribute (since this is a negative belief, for this purpose we are taking numbers from -1 to -7 with -7 being worst). The total score for this belief is 7*(-4) =-28.If we hold these two beliefs the aggregated attitude would have been 24+(-28)=-4.In real life, it is obvious that consumers tend to have many more beliefs and their summary will provide an accurate measurement (Perner, 2006).
Based on this multi-attribute model, marketers may consider four strategies when attempting to affect behavior:
- Change the value placed on a particular product attributes (a change in an ei component)
- Change beliefs (a change in a b1 component)
- Change the attitude toward the brand (A change in Ao)
- Change behavioral intentions (a change in BI) or behavior change in B (Assael, 1992)
The Fishbein’s attitude-towards object model has been relatively successful in predicting, behavioral intentions arising by various cognitive variables to which they refer (Birtwistle and Shearer, 2001; Doyle and Fenwick, 1974; Fishbein, 1967; Bass and Talarzyk, 1972). For example, excessive usage of the model to measure different advertisements or store brands. The tangible attributes and the utility versus the intangible ,symbolic attributes. However, this approach has not always been useful results for the retail management, as the knowledge of a customer’s attitude about a brand is not always a safe predictor of their actual behavior (Wicker, 1967).
Furthermore, the model allows marketers to focus on the important issues of their consumers. Examines the effectiveness of their brand in providing the necessary attributes, and how marketers stack up against their competitors (Karjaluoto, 2006). By all means a negative response of the consumers to one feature of a brand does not necessarily eliminates the consumers connection with the specific brand.
According to Wilkie and Pessemier (1973) the most important aspect of the multi-attribute model is:
“The advantage of multi-attribute models is in gaining understanding of attitudinal structure. Diagnosis of brand strengths and weaknesses on relevant product attributes can then be used to suggest specific changes in a brand and its marketing support.”
The retailers tried to take advantage of the Multi attribute model in a way to predict the behavior of their consumers. Although, the use of the model was inappropriate and in some of the cases unacceptable. As a result, the forecast of the consumers behavior was not accurate (Sheppard, 1988):
- The model was developed to deal with the actual behavior (e.g. taking an aspirin), not with the outcomes of behavior (e.g. allergy), which is assessed in some studies (Solomon et al., 2002)
- Consumption situations may vary and this is going to influence the strength of the attitude behavior relationship (Bearden and Woodside, 1976). In fact, evidence suggests that consumer’s attitudes toward brands can actually vary depending on the situation (Miller and Ginter, 1979).
- Time usually elapses while consumers forming attitudes and when they are ready to act on these. During that time, many variables expected and unexpected may intervene to affect behavior. For example, an unexpected need for a new family car could quickly postpone, or cancel, plans to purchase a new motorcycle (Loudon and Bitta, 1994).
- The consumer’s attitudes toward some types of behavior are influenced by his evaluation of the perceived consequences (positive or negative) of taking such action. Therefore, these attitudes are more relevant for predicting consumer’s attitudes toward the objects themselves (Loudon and Bitta, 1994).
- Consumers are often influenced by their perceptions of what others will think of their actions. Thus, even though a consumer may have a favorable attitude toward making a purchase, he may refrain from doing so because of his perception that other people, who are very important to him (such as his/her friends) might not approve his action. This influence noted as subjective norm (Loudon and Bitta, 1994).
New models able to adjust to the formed complexity introduced and the above-mentioned factors were used as a guide. As a result, Fishbein introduced the Behavioral Intentions model (Loudon and Bitta, 1994) in an attempt to escape from the traditional attitude toward object model to a more attitudes towards behavior model (Thoradeniya, 2006).
Fishbein’s Behavioral Intentions Model
This revised model presented by Fishbein and contributed by Ajzen (1975), was designed to include the person’s evaluation about performing certain behaviour. Their attitude toward the behaviour and additionally the social pressure experienced when performing the behaviour, like the subjective norm (Stephen, 2002).
The theory of reasoned action is different from the traditional attitude theories in a manner of introducing normative influences to the overall model and a causal relationship between the two antecedents and intention (Ha, 1998).
Subjective norms are determined by the consumer’s beliefs about the actions of the others regarding his intended behaviour and his motivations to comply with their standards of behaviour (Fishbein and Ajzen, 1980). The subjective norms reflect as well the individual’s sense to behave in an acceptable manner (Teo and Loosemore, 2001).
Normative beliefs in general involve specific individuals or groups rather than generalised important others(Fishbein and Ajzen, 1980). In addition, the person’s behaviour is a function of his/her intention to behave in a certain manner (Loudon and Bitta, 1994). For example, a woman’s attitude towards birth control pills maybe favourable, but the pressure exerted by family and friends could represent the subjective norm, which may result in a negative attitude towards using them (Johnson and Fishbein, 2003).
Fishbein’s expressed relationships in equation form as:
As the model indicates, in order to predict the consumers behavior, the researcher must determine the consumers attitude toward the specific behavior in question (AB) and his subjective norm (SN).
Each of these will be weighted by w1 and w2 respectively (which add up to 1.0) to reflect their relative importance in influencing the behavioural intentions (Loudon and Bitta, 1994).
The consumers attitudes toward performing a specific behaviour has the same structure as in the Fishbein’s Multiattribute model. The important change here is that beliefs and evaluations concern certain actions, and the consequences of these actions, affect the attributes of the object (Ha, 1998). These beliefs are called behavioural beliefs. An individual will attempt to perform certain behaviour because of his evaluation upon beliefs. Attitudes are determined by the individual’s beliefs about the consequences of performing according to a specific behaviour (behavioural beliefs) and his concerns about the above mentioned consequences (outcome evaluations).Those attitudes have a direct effect on behavioural intention and are linked with subjective norm and perceived behavioural control (Brown, 1999).
A number of issues and limitations of the Fishbein Behavioural Intentions model need further examination, since the potential number of factors affecting attitude are infinitive.
Other researchers are involved with the thoughts of the consumers before their decision upon action. We are not able to apply these theories in the organisational buyer behaviour because of the complexity of the influencing factors which affect this kind of behaviour (Thompson and Panayiotopoulos, 1999).
Moreover, there is a significant risk between attitudes and subjective norms since attitudes can often be reframed as norms and vice versa. In practice the consumer suffer from several constraints such us limited ability, time, environmental or organisational limits and unconscious habits.
It is also very important to note, that although the theory assumes that behaviours are influenced only by intentions, other authors suggest that attitudes and past attitudes have a direct influence on future behaviour(Bargh, 1997). According to the above-mentioned frame the current behavior may be habitual and triggered by environmental stimuli and may be elicited unintentionally when an evaluative representation is present (Bargh, 1997).
However, the implications of this model are extremely important for the marketers, while there is a specific need for understanding the factors which affect the consumers intentins. Past research strengths the ability to identify the most important attributes, which forced the consumers to form negative or positive attitudes towards a purchase of a product (Ha, 1998). It is also a valuable tool to proceed with the identification of the sources of the social environment and their possible role in intention. (Ha, 1998).
These attitudinal and subjective-norm components are helpful to marketers to analyse and understand/predict the consumers behaviour. Moreover, they are useful because of their suggestions to alternative marketing strategies for the evaluation and change of the consumers attitudes and intentions to act (Loudon and Bitta, 1994).
Online Apparel Shopping Intention
The representation Paisley of Paisley “what Paisley we Paisley think Paisley we Paisley will Paisley buy” Paisley (Blackwell Paisley et Paisley al., Paisley 2001, Paisley p. Paisley 283) describes the online appare