Explore the relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision amongst UK fashion retailers
Marketers, nowadays, are confronted with increasingly multicultural marketplaces.
Globalisation of markets and international competition are requiring firms to operate
in a multicultural environment.
In addition, migration patterns and communication
media i.e. satellite and televisions are developing multicultural mind sets in single
domestic markets and exposing consumers to alternative behaviours and activities
(Douglas and Craig, 1997 cited in Luna and Gupta, 2001).
United Kingdom is one of the biggest countries in the world supporting immigrants.
Immigration made up more than half of Britain’s population growth from 1991 to
2001 (www.bbc.co.uk 2008). The net difference between immigration and emigration
was 191,000 in 2006, which is expected to increase due to inflow of Eastern European
migrants (Statistics.gov.uk). These immigration patterns are making UK a multicultural country rather then homogenous and single cultured as it was in 1970s.
This inflow of immigrants from different cultures has brought diverse cultures
together in distinct country. Individuals from sundry cultures are living and working
together while possessing unlike mind sets and behaviour for similar products and
commodities. These contrasting mind sets are affecting high street retailers as they
have to serve diverse markets apart from local population including migrants from
Asian countries which are working here for years and recent migrants from Eastern
The women’s outerwear market has been characterised in the past five years by
falling prices and rising volumes as women have adopted fast, throwaway, celebrityinspired fashion (Mintel 2008). The UK clothing market has many drivers; it is Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
sensitive and remains as multi-level and eccentric as has been increasingly the case
since around 1975, recognised as the emergence of the modern market (Hogg Bruce
and Hill 1998). This modern era is fairly been attractive and catching for marketers
and high streets retailers.
1.2 Significance of Study:
Several attempts by different researchers around the world have been made to
highlight the cultural influence on consumer behaviour (Jamal 2001). Most of the
research papers have focused on the influence of culture as a explanatory tool for
marketing purposes (Craig and Douglas 2005; Dmitrovic and Vida 2005; LeBlanc and
Herndon 2001) and very few researchers have spotlight the elements of culture and
their influence on consumer behaviour (Luna and Gupta 2001).
Furthermore these research studies regarding effect of culture on consumer behaviour
do not offer a framework in which literature can be adequately integrated, are not
firmly grounded in theory, or do not contain a full account of how specific cultural
dimensions affect specific consumer behaviour components. As a result, Douglas et
al. (1994) call for further research in this area stating that strong theoretical and
conceptual frameworks are needed, integrating constructs from the different research
subjects and disciplines.
Additionally, most of the cross-cultural studies in past had focused on different
cultural aspects and values. Very few works have been done on aesthetics and its
influence on consumer behaviour. Aesthetics is an important element of culture and
represents the idea of beauty and appearance in material culture (Hofstede 2000). It is
one of the visible parts of culture that gives an idea to outsiders about cultural values
and beliefs. It also plays an importance role in shaping new trends and consumer
behaviour in a society (Usanier and Lee 2005).
Moreover, market conditions are changing very rapidly now-a-days. Between 1975
and 1990, the total retail market grew from 40 per cent to 70 per cent (Jones and Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
Hayes, 2002 cited in Priest 2005). Even with the current medium term jitters, the UK
clothing market have very attractive prospect.The UK clothing and fashion market
remains attractive because of its size and growth. Retail sales climbed 0.8 per cent in
January – a marked improvement on the 0.2 per cent fall recorded for December –
according to the Office for National Statistics. UK retail sales rose 1.2% on a like-forlike basis, compared with July 2006, when sales were up 3.4%. July’s growth was the
weakest since November 2006 and half the monthly average for the second quarter.
The three-month trend rate of growth fell to 2.1% from 2.5% in June, for like-for-like
sales, and to 4.1% from 4.6% for total sales, reflecting the continuing slow growth of
retail space (Retail week 2008)
Lastly, in the present situation of multi-ethnic groups with manifold and growing
demands for apparel in sole market, it is very thorny for retailers, marketers and
entrepreneurs to develop strategies. According to Jamal (2001), in a multicultural
market place, consumer of different ethnic groups coexists, interact and adapt to each
other. During this adoption process, demands changes and new commodities are
expected in market.
Fig 1.1: Research Pattern
Source: Adopted from Foxel et. al. (1998) Consumer Psychology of Marketing 2
Edition p. 148
(Brand selection and
Culture Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
This research paper opts to address the above-mentioned problems and future market
potentials by looking in to the cultural factors that influences the consumer behaviour,
as shown in figure 1.1. It will look in to consumer’s brand selection decision on the
basis of one of the cultural elements i.e. aesthetics. This element of culture is far
above the ground important for apparel brands and retailers and will be researched
with respect to self reference criterion (SRC).
1.3 Aims and Objectives
Consumers may allocate a portion of their purchase time and money to express their
personality and lifestyles (Kahle and Kennedy 1989). Consequently, an understanding
of the basic values and beliefs of consumers should improve our understanding of
unseen buying motives and provide specific guidelines for marketing strategy.
This research is intended to explore various cultural aspects that influence female
customers’ decision for different outerwear and clothing brands operating in UK. It
seeks to comprehend the influence of consumers’ back-home culture when they make
a decision to buy ready-to-wear clothing from apparel retailers.
The research objectives of this study are as follows:
1. Identify and explain the cultural factors that influence female consumers’ decision
and behaviour for casual in-home and outerwear clothing (Women’s outerwear
including coats, dresses, tops, T-shirts, jackets, trousers, jeans, blouses, skirts,
shirts etc. but excluding accessories (e.g. belts, hats, gloves), lingerie and hosiery
whereas in-home include casual skirts, jeans and tops)
2. Identify and describe the social pressure and motivation for shopping culturally
acceptable fashion wear Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
3. Explore the perception of female consumers from different cultures for wearing
cross cultural dresses
4. Identify the advantages and disadvantages for clothing fashion retailers to sell
multi-cultural outfit ranges
1.3.2 Research Question:
The primary research questions of this study are:
1. How cultural values affects self concept of individuals which in turn influence
This dissertation will try to find relationship between consumer culture and behaviour
while focusing the aesthetical part of their value system. This paper will also spotlight
the concept of self image in individuals while discussing self-reference-criterion
(SRC). Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
Figure 1.2: Research question
2. What are the implications of these cultural values for apparel companies operating
in United Kingdom?
From the result of consumer interviews and focus groups, this study will explore the
ways by which the retail apparel brands are affected and what would be the
implications in future for their higher sales and profitability.
1.4 Structure of Dissertation
This dissertation is divided into six (6) chapters. A brief description of these chapters
is presented hereafter.
Chapter1: This chapter covers introduction of dissertation and significance of this
study for different stakeholder. Research aims and objectives are also covered in this
Pakistani Indian Bengali British Polish Italian German
M & S
Cultural Influence Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailer
Chapter 2: This chapter covers previous studies conducted in the field of topic in
hand. Culture, consumer behaviour and relationship between them are discussed in
details. The final part of this chapter covers significance of apparels and clothing in a
society followed by research question.
Chapter 3: This chapter entails description of research methodology involved in this
study. Research strategy, methods and context of study are important features of this
Chapter 4: This chapter wrap-up the finding from the participants’ responses. These
findings are an analysed using content analysis method, which is explained in
Chapter 5: This chapter preset the findings of this reports with respect to the
literature review. Previous studies presented in chapter 2 are compared with the
results obtained in chapter 4.
Chapter 6: This is final chapter of report and presents a final conclusion of project.
At the end of chapter, brief recommendations and recommendations are given for
managers and retailers. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
LI T E R A T U R ERE V I E W
Dealing distinctive consumers in various countries is becoming a necessity for today
multinational organisation. These multinationals achieve their marketing objectives
whilst serving consumers in a country according to its cultural preferences and values.
These cultural values play an important role in consumer’s decision making and
choice of product. As mentioned by Poon (2003), economic and cultural differences
lead to substantial variations in the behaviours of consumers.
The relevant literature presented in this part will discuss the studies related to culture
and cross-culture, consumer behaviour and relationship in between them. It will also
highlight the studies which unfold the importance of culture in the selection of
2.1.1 Concept of Culture
Culture, a thorny word, is translated differently in various civilisations around the
world. It is too complex to be defined in one line or paragraph. Authors around the
world have developed more then 164 different definitions of culture (Usanier and Lee
2005). It is a lens, shaping reality, and a blueprint, specifying a plan of action. At the
same time, culture is unique to a specific group of people (Fan 2008). Groups,
organisations and individuals identify and relate themselves with the culture they
belong. Civilisations use culture they inherit as guidance for their acts and beliefs.
Keegan (2005) elucidate the term culture as ‘ways of living, built up by a group of
human beings, which are transmitted from one generation to another’. This means that
culture identify the ways of life, actions and symbols of past generations and their Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
significance to present civilisation. Hofstede (1991) view culture as “the collective
mental programming of the people in an environment. Culture is not a characteristic
of individual; it encompasses a number is people who were conditioned by the same
education and life experience”
Culture acts like glue, binding together individuals, groups and civilisation in a
patterned way (Kluckhohn 1962). Without this patterned way of living, it is
impossible for people in a society to live together. It collectively defines the
boundaries of actions and values carried by a society. Cultural orientation has been
the central construct used in psychology and other social sciences (Oysermann et al.,
2002) in order to understand and define society and culture (Aaker and Maheswaran,
1997; Aaker, 2000). As mentioned by Goodenogh (1971) cited in Usanier and Lee
(2005), culture is set of beliefs or standards, shared by a group of people, which help
the individual decide what is what, what can be, How to feel, what to do and how to
go about it. This makes culture important in individual and groups psychological
developments while shaping their norms, values and rituals.
Culture can be defined in terms of national culture, sub-culture and counter-culture.
Whereas national culture is collective fingerprint of a country, sub-culture is practiced
by smaller number of people. National culture and sub-culture are coherent by values
but apparently different (Keegan 2006). Counter-culture is a culture or sub-cultures
whose values and beliefs are apposite or in disagreement to that of national culture
2.1.2 Importance of Culture
Culture drives behaviour of members in a society. It is the most important block of a
civilisation that defines and explains its origin and history (Lukosius 2004). Culture is
concerned with the development of coherent viewpoints which bring a cumulative
effect to ‘otherwise’ isolated experiences of a group, making them feel special yet
allowing others to have a parallel experience (Veltman 1997). Individuals and groups
usually associate themselves with the culture they belong to and feel proud of it. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
According to Craig and Douglas (2005), culture has a profound influence on all
aspects of human behaviour. Its impact may be subtle or pronounced, direct or
oblique, enduring or ephemeral. It is so entwined with all facets of human existence
that it is often difficult to determine how and in what ways its impact is manifested
(Jamal 2001). Adding to the complexity of understanding culture is its inherently
Fig 2.1: Cultural importance framework
Source: Adapted from Mooij (2005), p. 106
The impact of culture can also be viewed in every day life of individuals in a society.
According to Hofstede (1997), culture influences behaviour through its manifestations:
values, heroes, rituals, and symbols. This influence is visible at personal level as well
as organisational and group levels. Culture influences change and evolves as the
political, social, economic and technological forces (Usunier and Lee, 2005). Figure
2.1 presents a framework that highlights the importance of culture in individual’s
social participation, which is affected by individual behavioural domain. The
behavioural domain possesses visible and non-visible culture, values and beliefs,
religious base and concept of heroes.
Participation Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
2.1.3 Manifestations of Culture
Hofstede (1991) defined four main manifestations of culture in his famous Onion
Model shown in fig 2.2. According to him, values, rituals, heroes and symbols reflect
important parts of culture and need to be studied in order to understand it. These
manifestations are important to study because different cultures perceive different
According to Mooij (2005), symbols are words, gestures, pictures, or objects that
carry a particular meaning recognised only by those who share a culture. Symbols are
at the outer most layer of onion model and include dressing and hair styles, special
hand or face gestures, status recognition and pictures possessing some meaning for its
viewers. Usunier and Lee (2005) describe heroes as persons, alive or dead, real or
imaginary- who thus serve as a role model for common societal behaviour. These can
be fantasy figures or real heroes. Rituals are the collective activates considered
essential for culture and are carried out for their own sake. These three manifestations
are visible and are termed as expression of culture that an outsider can observe (Mooij
Fig 2.2: The onion model
Source: Hofstede, G. (2000) Culture Consequences, Comparing Values, Behaviours, Intuitions and
Organisations across Nations, 2
edition. p. 11
At the core of culture are values and are defined as broader tendencies to prefer a
certain state of affairs over other (www.trompenaars.com 2008). Developmental
psychologists believe that values are among the first things children learn, not
P r a c t i c e s Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
– 12 –
consciously but implicitly (Mooij 2005). Members of a society are not conscious of
the values they hold, but act according to them.
It is important to note that value system is placed firmly in mind of child by the age of
10, and they act according to that in later stages of life. These cultural values, in
which child is brought up, play an important role in evaluation, organisation and
selection of commodities and brands. Not only it steer members of society to choose
from alternative choices and brands but also affect their consumption patterns. The
value system, once developed, is very difficult to change and affect individual
throughout there life (Douglous 2006).
Salter (1997) further elaborates the concept of culture after the values that arise within
the way of life of people. According to him, these values give members of society
solidarity, identity and authoritatively judge what is good or bad, real or false, not
only in art but in everyday life. So it can be argued that these judgements or
perceptions of external stimuli are jointly accepted in individuals from same cultural
background or civilisation.
2.1.4 Elements of Culture
There are four major elements of culture explained by Usunier and Lee (2005) i.e.
language, institutions, material productions and symbolic productions. These elements
are further divided in to sub-elements. We will discuss only three elements which
have relevance to this research paper including language, aesthetics and institution.
A county’s language affects people’s thoughts and mental representation and is one of
the building blocks of culture (Usunier and Lee 2005). Language illustrates culture
and it reflects all manifestations of culture, the expressions and the values. According
to Mooij (2005), there are two ways of looking at language i.e. either language affects
culture or language is expression of culture. In both views, language plays an
important role in culture related studies. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
Fig 2.3: Elements of Culture
Source: Adopted from Luna, and Gupta (2001) “An integrative framework for cross-cultural consumer
behaviour” International Marketing Review Vol. 18 No. 1, 2001
Aesthetics are the ideas of beauty, taste and appearance mainly expressed in colours
and fine arts (Blocker and Flint 2007). Aesthetics play an important role in selections
of ensigns and related commodities. Lastly, institution reflects the idea of family
structure in a society (Usunier and Lee 2005). Institution plays and important role in
spending of capital and product range required by a family.
2.1.5 Sources of Culture
The national culture is not always the main source of culture when regarded as
‘operational culture’ (Goodenough 1971 cited in Mizik and Jacobson 2008). Man is
an intelligent animal and learns cultural values and activities from society around him.
He learns from people around him, adopt things and then respond accordingly. Some
of the main sources of culture which help individuals to act in a pertinent way are
family, religion, social class and language. Usunier and Lee (2005) gave a framework
to explained ten (10) different sources of culture, which are shown in figure 2.4.
These factors affect an individual’s personality directly and indirectly, modify and
design behaviour while determining new values.
Material culture Institution/Family
CultureRelationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
Fig 2.4: Sources of culture
Source: Usunier and Lee (2005) Marketing Across Culture, 4
edition. p. 11
2.1.6 Cross Cultural Studies
There are two main types of cross culture studies, etic and emic. Etic approach looks
at a culture while comparing it with other culture. Researchers, who use this method,
try to find common elements between diverse cultures and then compare them for
further understanding. According to Luna and Gupta (2007), this approach is
commonly used in typical cross-cultural psychology and other comparative social
However, there is another point of view for cross-cultural studies i.e. emic
methodology, which focuses upon the understanding culture from the view point of
subject being studied (McCracken 1988). Researcher studying consumer behaviour
from emic methodological views are more inclined towards the culture which subject
hold rather then general national culture. Emic methodology is more appropriate for
Language Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
the studies apt for multicultural consumer studies. So it can be argued that the etic and
the emic philosophies seem to refer to similar constructs but from different perspectives
(between-cultures versus within-cultures).
As explained by Luna and Gupta (2007), consumer ethnocentrism is a construct often
studied by cross-cultural researchers. The construct could be viewed as an
instrumental value (Rokeach, 1973), as used by Shimp and Sharma (1987). In their
study, Shimp and Sharma (1987) found that consumers’ ethnocentrism determines
their perceptions of domestic versus foreign values (cognition), as well as their
attitudes and behaviour.
2.2 Consumer Behaviour and Decision Making
2.2.1 Consumer Behaviour
The field of consumer behaviour is complex, changing and is in flux. Perspectives
from different disciplines around the world cross-fertilise with it to obtain required
data. Consumer behaviour’s researchers include different theories from diverse
subjects to conclude results. So it can be argued that consumer behaviour is series of
actions and reaction to certain stimuli.
As commercial global integration unfolds in the world’s marketplaces, decision
making is becoming increasingly complex for consumers. The introduction of new
products and brands in market has not only confused customers with a massive
display of choices but also has created scarcity of places in retails stores. Brands are
now commonly assessed by customer mind-set measures (e.g., awareness, attitudes)
(Mizik and Jacomson 2008).
Consumer behaviour encompasses consumers and their reaction to environment.
Customer reaction is the key elements in consumer behaviour. Consumers recognise
that they have a need; search for a product that can meet heir need; use the product to
satisfy their need; and then dispose of the product once it has met the need (Wells and
Prensky 1996). Hence, the central concept in consumer behaviour is exchange. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
According Solomon et. al. (2006), consumer behaviour is defined as the study of the
processes involved when individuals or groups select, purchase, use or dispose of
products, service, ideas or experiences to satisfy needs and desires. This definition
demonstrates consumer behaviour as a study of process which starts from product’s
selection till its disposal.
On the other hand, American Marketing Association (AMA) defined consumer
behaviour as the dynamic interaction of affects and cognition, behaviour, and
environmental events by which human beings conduct exchange aspects of their lives.
This definition elucidates consumer behaviour as a dynamic and changing, involves
interaction between individuals and groups and finally hold exchange.
Consumer decision-making style, in simple terms, can be defined as “a mental
orientation characterizing a consumer’s approach to making choices” (Sproles and
Kendall, 1986, p. 267 cited in Lysonski, Durvasula and Zotos 1996). This definition
looks at just one aspect of consumer behaviour i.e. making choices.
All of the above definitions explain consumer behaviour and decision making from
different angles but focus on one thing i.e. the consumer’s mental cognitive process.
Consumer behaviour mental process involves the thoughts and feelings people
experience and the actions they perform in consumption process. It also includes the
things in environment that influence their thoughts, feelings and actions (Peter and
2.2.2 Understanding Consumer Behaviour
Consumer decision making process is complex and ever changing. It varies from
individual to individual, group to group, organisation to organisation and across
country borders. This understanding of consumer behaviour affects the level and
intensity of exchange between marketers and consumers. Consumer behaviour subject
has gripped the attention of researchers in recent years. The popularity of
customisation has hanged the focus of marketing from macro consumer behaviour to Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
micro consumer behaviour. It is impossible to satisfy the needs and wants of a society
without cramming consumer values and the road to consumer values, attitude and
behaviour is culture.
According to Lysonski, Durvasula and Zotos (1996), consumer decision making can
be categorized into three main approaches: the consumer typology approach (Darden
and Ashton, 1974; Moschis 1976); the psychographics /lifestyle approach
(Lastovicka, 1982; Wells, 1975); and the consumer characteristics approach (Sproles,
1985; Sproles and Kendall, 1986; Sproles and Sproles, 1990).
The unifying theme among these three approaches is the tenet that all consumers
engage in shopping with certain fundamental decision-making modes or styles
including rational shopping, consciousness regarding brand, price and quality among
Fig 2.5: The pyramid of consumer behaviour
Source: Solomon M. et al (2006) Consumer Behaviour: A European Perspective, 3
Edition, p. 24
Macro Consumer Behaviour
Micro Consumer Behaviour
(Individual Focus)Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
– 18 –
Fig 2.5 shows the pyramid of origin of consumer behaviour and interdisciplinary
influences on the study of consumer behaviour. These disciplines explain the
importance of consumer behaviour as a whole.
2.2.3 Consumer Decision Making Processes
Consumer behaviour is outcome of mental processes and judgements that individual
goes through every time before taking an action. These processes are explained by
researchers around the world in various ways and steps, such as AIDA by Strong
(1925) cited in Kotler (2003), Hierarchy of effects by Lavidge and Gary (1961) cited
in Antonides and Raaij (1998) and Innovation-adoption model (Rogers (1962) cited in
Kotler (1999). Most of these processes generally include need recognition, search for
alternative, evaluation of alternatives and action (Foxall et al 1998). Some researchers
have divided this process in further sub-steps (Wells and Prensky (1996), Solomon
(1999), Peter and Olson (2005), Solomon et al (2006)), but the idea remains the same.
2.2.4 Factors affecting consumer behaviour
A number of researchers have given several explanations of different factors affecting
consumer behaviour. Wells and Prensky (1996) explained different factors including
demographics, personality, psychographics, lifestyle, values and reference groups,
which affect consumer behaviour. It is worth mentioning here that all of these factors
are affected directly or indirectly by culture. Other factors that influence consumer
behaviour at the point of purchase are price, product perception, brand loyalty,
celebrity endorsement and people using product (Kotler 2003).
2.3 Relationship between Culture and Consumer Behaviour
Culture and consumer behaviour are intimately knotted together and “untying the
rope” is almost an impossible task (Lukosius 2004). Anthropologists have long
theorized about the influence of culture on decision making (Stewart, 1985).
Consumer culture is premised upon the expansion of capitalist commodity production
which has given rise to a vast accumulation of material culture in the form of Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
consumer goods and sites of purchase and consumption (Featherstone 1990). This
expansion of material culture has raised desire of leisure and expectations in
The empirical study conducted by Henry (1976) shows that culture is underlying
determinant of consumer behaviour. Culture affects consumer behaviour, which itself
may reinforce the manifestations of culture (Peter and Olson, 1998). Culture
influences behaviour through its manifestations: values, heroes, rituals, and symbols
(Hofstede, 1997). These are the forms in which culturally-determined knowledge is
stored and expressed. This knowledge in-turn reflects consumer living style, attitude,
and behaviour. Each cultural group possesses different cultural manifestations which
are important for marketers to assess consumer behaviour, as shown in figure 2.6
(Luna and Gupta 2007).
Fig 2.6: Relationship between culture, marketing and consumer behaviour
Source: Luna, and Gupta (2001) “An integrative framework for cross-cultural consumer behaviour”
International Marketing Review Vol. 18 No. 1, 2001
The analysis of culture also offers some useful starting points for consumer attitude
and behaviours. Some recent studies have explored the influence of national culture
on cultural value perceptions (Overby et al., 2004; Furrer et al., 2000). But these are Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
largely limited to consumer contexts. For example, in a cross-cultural consumer
context, Overby et al. (2004) find that consumers’ national culture influences the
content and structure of value perceptions through the way customers attach meaning
and importance to various aspects of a firm’s products. This show that consumer’s
national cultures, in which they are brought up, hold utter importance in their
selection and perception of products and services.
2.3.1 Culture, Consumer Behaviour & Brand Selection Decisions
Consumers often choose certain products, services and activities over other because
they are associated with specific life style. This lifestyle reflects trend and fashion
expression and influences the choices made by consumer in their own anticipatory
consumption or the purchase of aspired lifestyle products (Brandon 2003 cited in
Forney, Park and Brandon 2005). These life styles techniques are provided by
different brands around the world (Kotler 2003). Consumer preferences for specific
brands are growing stronger day by day. Brands are one of the important factors that
influence groups to accept or reject an individual in a society.
An important study conducted by Aaker and Schmitt (1997) found that both
individualist and collectivist consumers use brands for self-expressive purposes (as in
McCracken, 1988). Moreover, this study clearly shows the difference of two cultures
i.e. eastern and western, as eastern consumers are more collectivist then western. Both
of these use brands, however, in different ways: collectivist consumers use brands to
reassert their similarity with members of their reference group, while individualist
consumers use brands to differentiate themselves from referent others.
Moreover, those who cannot keep up with the latest brand styles and knowledge
forms the ‘‘out’’ groups and those that can keep up are seen as members of the groups
as ‘‘cool’’ and ‘‘popular (Auty and Elliot 1998). The influence of brands is increasing
gradually in the form of consumer satisfaction to preference and repeat purchases and
then to next level i.e. brand loyalty. These branding decisions are influenced by
consumer behaviour which is reflection of individuals’ culture. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
2.3.2 Cultural adoption and reinforcement:
According to the empirical study conducted by Henry (1976), culture is underlying
determinant of consumer behaviour and it affects consumer behaviour, which itself
may reinforce the manifestations of culture (Peter and Olson, 1998). According to
Nguyen and Barrett (2008), individual from a sub-culture adopt manifestations from
mainstream or dominant culture. These adopted manifestations became part of
consumer mind set and reinforce further behaviour. Framework in figure 2.7 explains
cultural adoption and reinforcement process, which holds its very importance in study
of immigrants’ culture.
Figure 2.7: Framework of ethnic and mainstream cultural affects on consumer behaviour
Source: Adopted from Wines and Napier (1992) “Towards an understanding of cross-cultural ethics: A
tentative model” Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 11, Iss. 11. Pp. 831
2.3.3 Self Reference Criterion (SRC):
Self reference criterion is the unconscious reference to one’s own cultural values or
one’s home country frame of reference (Lee 1966). It was introduced from
managerial point of view to handle cultural differences and eliminate the root cause of
international problems, but it can also be used from consumers’ perspective. Culture
is subjective (Schutte 1999) and the people in different cultures often have different
ideas for the same object (Usanier and Lee 2005). When travelling overseas, it is
virtually impossible for a person to observe foreign culture without making reference,
Consumer values &
Adaptation Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
perhaps unconsciously, back to his own cultural values. Individual’s opinion about
another culture is also heavily influenced by the media (Peter and Olson, 1998).
Through the tinted glass of parent culture, individuals see things in a foreign culture
not as what they are, but according to what he sees in them according to his own
perception (Fan 2008). For example, dog is man’s best friend in west but in Arab
countries it is considered as a filthy animal. This explains the differences in consumer
behaviour in different cultures about same object.
Moreover, McCort and Malhotra (1993) cited in Luna and Gupta (2007), describe
number of studies on the effect of cultural values on information processing issues
such as perceptual categorization, perceptual inference and learning. An individual’s
behaviour is result of that individual’s cultural value system for a particular context
(Loader 1999). Figure 2.8 explains the influence of demographics and personality
development on lifestyle, self concept and eventually on consumer behaviour.
Fig 2.8: Demographics & personality variables with lifestyle, self concept & consumer behaviour
Source: Adopted from Foxel et. al. (1998) Consumer Psychology of Marketing 2
Edition p. 148
2.4 CLOTHING AND FASHION APPAREL
Clothing is primarily a mean of communicating, not personal identity, but social
identity (Noesjirwan and Crawford (1982) cited in Auty and Elliott 1998), which
strengthen the idea of cultural bond and group belonging. Researches conducted in
clothing behaviour have shown that consumers differ in attitudes, values and
expectations of clothing. Clothing is a way by which people identify themselves with
S R C Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
a social class, project or group of people. Researchers have proven the construct of
symbolic meaning of clothing and its use in social environments (Hwang, 1996; Horn,
1975 cited in Alexander, Connell and Presley 2005). Clothing used positively
contributes to one’s feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.
Fashion is defined as currant mode of consumption behaviour or in other words style
or styles being worn by consumers of clothing (Evans 1989). Fashion, like all other
industries move in cycles (Miller and Merrilees 2004) and defined by consumers as
exciting, continuously changing and display of status, contribute to self confidence
and personally development (Evans 1989). This is a way by which consumers define
themselves as who they are and how they want others to perceive them. It is a way by
which individuals relate themselves with a group, celebrity, culture or country.
“Amongst the functions of fashion is to create uniformity amongst equals whilst at the
same time differentiating status and background, signposting preferences and
commitments. Reflecting the resulting market complexity, fashion forecasters have
developed a range of detailed and colourfully named descriptors to differentiate
consumer groups, identify, and recognise trends” (Priest 2005).
Fashion clothing means different things to different people from various backgrounds.
Consumers attach different perceptions to fashion which may be not same as their
family and friends’ beliefs. The use of fashion clothing enhance consumer’s
confidence and self-image concept. Empirical study conducted by Cass (2004) proved
that fashion apparel increase confidence and satisfaction among individuals. The
study presents a framework and proves that materialism, gender and age are important
antecedents of consumer involvement in fashion clothing and plays an important role
in enhancing consumer confidence.
According to Shim et al. (1991) clothing is an extension of the bodily self and has
important symbolic meanings in social interactions. Fashion concept is often a
manifestation of self image. There is an increase desire of self-expression (Evans Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
1989) and fashion is one of the most important methods for it. Figure 2.9 shows the
impact of fashion clothing on consumer confidence.
Fig 2.9: Fashion clothing impact on consumer confidence
Source: Cass (2004) “Fashion clothing consumption: Antecedents and consequences of fashion
clothing involvement” European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 38, Iss. 7. p. 869
2.5 PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION
As mentioned earlier in chapter 1, most of the cross-cultural studies in past had
focused on various cultural aspects and values. Very few works have been done on
aesthetics and its influence on consumer behaviour. Aesthetics is an important part of
culture and represents the idea of beauty and appearance in material culture. It is one
of the visible parts of culture that gives an idea to outsiders about cultural values and
beliefs. It also plays an importance role in shaping new trends in society.
Furthermore, studies conducted by various researchers specifically focused on the
cultures of various countries rather then various cultures in a single country, as it is in
case of Great Britain. The immigration trends in UK have made it a diverse cultured
country, while making it difficult for retailers and business to handle multi-ethnic
This research will identify the differences or gaps between the preferences and
choices of these consumers belonging to different cultures and answering the question
Confidence Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
“How does culture influence buying behaviour of female consumer for apparels and
clothing?” It will help identify the aesthetical part within the cultural values and
believes while focusing on visible aspect of material culture i.e. clothing and apparels.
Furthermore, this study will look into the different aspects of culture that influence
consumer’s buying behaviour and implications of these differences for women
clothing brands in Great Britain i.e. Zara, M&S, Next, Top Shop, Primark and House
of Frazer. The multicultural environment requires fashion retailers to be more flexible
and responsive when designing outfits. This study will help these retailers to achieve
multi-cultural consumer’s satisfaction via knowing their preferences and offering
diverse clothing ranges.
Figure 2.10: Research question
Pakistani Indian Bengali British Polish Italian German
M & S
Cultural Influence Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
– 26 –
This chapter has discussed in detail the previous studies explaining the concept of
culture, consumer behaviour and relationship between them. Moreover, the
importance of fashion and clothing with respect to consumer confidence was also
discussed. At the end of chapter, the gap within the previous studies is identified
which will be the focus of this research by using the methodology explained in next
Here the 1
research question is revisited i.e. How cultural values affects self concept
of individuals which in turn influence consumer behaviourThis is done through the
exploration of relationship between culture and consumer behaviour and its impact on
self image i.e. Self Reference Criterion. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
ME T H O D O L O G I C A LAP P R O A C H
This chapter will elucidate the research strategy and design used for the data
collection. The context of study, data collection among main-stream and ethnic
participants and the methods of data analysis are also explained. In the end of chapter,
limitations of are presented.
3.1 Research Strategy
This project is intended to explore the values and attitude of individuals from western
and eastern cultures. On the basis of these values and beliefs, consumer preferences
within clothing and apparels will be explored. These preferences will help determine
the idea of beauty and appearance within that culture. For this reason, the inductive
theory method is used. An illustration of this method is given in figure 3.1.
Fig 3.1: The concept of induction
Source: Bryman and Bell (2003) Business research methods p. 11
In this method, the researcher on the basis of findings and observations deduce a
result that draws generalised inferences. In other words, with an inductive stance,
theory is the outcome of research (Bryman and Bell 2003). This dissertation also
constructs generalisable results on the basis of research conducted.
3.2 Research Design
There are different kinds of research designs available, but for this study comparative
design is used. Hantaris (1996) has suggested that such research occurs when
Findings Theory Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
individuals or teams set to examine particular issues or phenomena in one, two or
more countries with the express intention of comparing their manifestations in
different socio-cultural setting (institutions, customs, traditions, value systems,
lifestyles, language, thought patterns). According to him the main aim of this study
design is to seek explanations for similarities and differences to gain a greater
awareness and a deeper understanding of social reality in different national contexts.
Moreover, the typical forms of comparative research design are qualitative i.e.
ethnographic or qualitative interviews on more then two cases (Bryman and Bell
2003), which are discussed in section 3.3.1.
Usunier (1998) further classified the comparative study in to two approaches.
According to him cross-cultural approaches are the one which compare national
culture and local customs in various countries. An example of this approach is
Hofstede (1984) study, which conducted research on IBM in more then 40 countries.
The second approach is intercultural approaches which focus on the study of
interaction between people and organisations from different national/cultural
background. This research project is more focused on intercultural approaches as it
will look into interaction of people from different cultural backgrounds and their
influence on each other.
3.3 Research Methods
Historically qualitative research has been given less than a fair sense of appreciation
and has been criticized for lack of scientific rigour, small samples, subjective and
nonreplicable efforts (Goodyear, 1990). Today, researchers and buyers of research
still see qualitative research as the provision of a homogeneous data collection method
based on group discussions or in-depth interviews (Wright 1996). This method has
proved to be beneficial for exploratory as well as for non-quantitative researches.
Qualitative approach is selected as in this research there are more exploratory
objectives which need deep insight analysis of consumers’ behaviour. Qualitative
research emphasises more on words rather than quantification in the collection and
analysis of data (Bryman and Bell 2003). The research methods used for this study are Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
primary research methods secondary research methods. Primary research is carried
out with the use of qualitative research tools, which was in accordance to the
Not only that qualitative method helps to identify people’s attitude towards a product
category through group brain storming, it also assist exploring customers behaviour,
lifestyles, needs and desires in a flexible and creative manner. Another reason of its
preference is that researcher can ask probing questions to clarify something they do
not fully understand or something unexpected and interesting that may help to explain
consumer behaviour (Dibb & Simkin 1997).
3.3.1 Primary Research Methods
The primary research methods used are interviews and focus group. These two
methods are used in semi-structured pattern (Bryman and Bell 2003) as they give a
deep understanding of market trends and people’s behaviour. Among the different
interview methods, semi-structured interviewing is focused. This term covers a wide
range of instances and typically refers to a context in which interviewer has a series
of questions that are in the general form of an interview schedule but is able to vary
the sequence of questions. Moreover Semi-structured interview also covers in-depth
interviews (Bryman and Bell 2003).
The second primary research method used is focus group. The focus group method is
a form of group interview in which: there are several participants (in addition to the
moderator/facilitator); there is an emphasis in the questioning on a particular fairly
tightly defined topic; and the accent is upon interaction within the group and the joint
construction of meaning (Merton et al. 1953). This technique help researcher to
develop an understanding about why people feel the way they do (Hutt 1979). Focus
group also offer research opportunity to study the ways in which individuals
collectively make sense of phenomenon and construct meanings around it (Wilkinson
1998) Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
3.3.2 Secondary Research Methods
Secondary research included the material from secondary research reports (Mintel,
GMID, Snapshot and Fame), books, articles, journals and newspapers related to
culture, brand identity and personality, consumer behaviour and UK fashion industry.
This data from secondary sources was used parallel with primary research for
3.4 Context of Study
This research is based on study of western and eastern cultures in Britain. For this
reason, it was conducted in London, a city which is famous for attracting different
immigrant groups from different parts of the world, as it won’t exist without mass
immigration (www.britishlibrary.co.uk 2008). Moreover, according to 2001 census
survey, more then 20% of Londoners are from an ethnic minorities (www.bbc.co.uk
2008), which make it suitable for ethnic minority studies and researches.
3.5 Participants of Study
The sample size consisted of a 13 eastern (Asian, 8 Pakistani and 5 Indian) and 12
western consumers (white, 3 Italian and 9 English). For the purpose of this research,
they are termed as “ethnic participants” and “mainstream participants” respectively
(Jamal 2003). All of 25 participants were female and were randomly selected on the
basis of social relations in both communities. Out of 13 ethnic minority participants, 5
were born and educated in UK whereas rest 8 came from Pakistan for educational
purposes and had been in UK for 1 to 4 years. These ethnic participants are bilingual,
single and their age ranges from 21-27 years. Out of total 12 mainstream participants,
9 were born and educated in UK whereas rest 3 came to UK in past 3-4 years from
Italy. All of these participants are single and involved in education or working
activities. Moreover, mainstream participants had exposure to ethnic participant’s
culture during their stay in London. Most of interviews conducted for this study were Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
inside british institute of technology and e commerce from students whereas focus
groups were conducted at university Halls and at researchers’ home facility.
3.6 Data Collection among Ethnic Participants
Data among female ethnic participants was collected through interviews and focus
group discussion. Total 8 interviews were conducted each lasting for an average of
10-15 minutes. 4 interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed with permission
whereas rest 5 were written in detail after they were conducted.
Name Age Nationality Profession
Interviewee-1 23 British-Pakistani Student/Doing job Single
Interviewee-2 22 British-Pakistani Student Single
Interviewee-3 24 Indian Student Single
Interviewee-4 24 Pakistani Student/Doing job Single
Interviewee-5 26 Pakistani Student Single
Interviewee-6 21 Indian Student Single
Interviewee-7 24 Pakistani Student Single
Interviewee-8 23 British-Indian Student/Doing job Single
27 Indian Student Single
23 Pakistani Student Single
26 Pakistani Student/Doing job Single
21 British-Pakistani Student/Doing job Single
24 British-Indian Student/Doing job Single
Table 3.1: Ethnic participants’ demographic details
A focus group within these ethnic participants was also conducted with 5 members to
get maximum feedback on consumer behaviour, while they perform daily life Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
functions as member of group or community. Open ended questions were used for
probing purpose during 30 minutes session of focus group. The demographic details
of ethnic participants are given in table 3.1.The detail questions asked from ethnic
participants are given in appendix A.
3.7 Data Collection among Mainstream Participants
The data among mainstream participants was collected in same manner as for ethnic
participants. 7 interviews were conducted with one focus group. None of the
interviews were tape recorded but written in detail after they were conducted. Each
interview lasted for an average of 10-15 minutes.
Name Age Nationality Occupation
Interviewee-1 21 British Student/Doing job Single
Interviewee-2 22 British Student/Doing job Single
Interviewee-3 24 British Student Single
Interviewee-4 24 British Student/Doing job Single
Interviewee-5 26 British Student Single
Interviewee-6 21 British Student Single
Interviewee-7 28 Italian Professional worker Single
25 British Student Single
23 British Student/Doing job Single
25 British Student Single
24 Italian Student Single
23 Italian Student Single
Table 3.2: Mainstream participants’ demographic details
A focus group of 5 people was also carried out while using open ended questions. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
This focus group lasted for 30 minutes. The demographic details of mainstream
participants are given in table 3.2. The detail questions asked from mainstream
participants are given in appendix B.
3.8 Method of Data Analysis
The method of data analysis used in this research is content analysis. According to
Bryman and Bell (2003), content analysis is an approach to the analysis of documents
and texts and is further classified into semiotic and qualitative content analysis or
ethnographic content analysis. The term ethnographic content analysis (ECA) was
first used by Aitheide (1996) and comprises a searching-out of underlying themes in
the materials being analysed while illustrating extracted themes-for example, with
brief quotations from newspaper articles or magazines.
Qualitative content analysis offers an important method for the cultural studies
because it enables researcher to analyse values, attitude and behaviour (Kabanoff,
Walderse and Cohen 1995). Furthermore, content analysis is highly flexible, nonreactive and transparent research method (Bryman and Bell 2003). It allow researcher
to gather information about social groups that are difficult to access and observe
(Maylor and Blackmon 2005).
This section will present limitations of research methods and whole research study.
Some of the limitations of research methods are as follows:
1. The research methods used in this study are primary and secondary, which have
a. More time is required for primary data collection whereas reliability and
validity are major issues in secondary data collection methods (Bryman and
Bell 2003). Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
b. Interviews takes a lot more time then questionnaire and some time require
physical presence of researcher.
c. Major issue with focus groups is that there is the possibility of groupthink i.e.
people expressing an opinion which is in line with the rest of the group even if
that opinion is at odds with their own personal one (Dibb & Simkin 1997).
2. Likewise above-mentioned limitations of research methods, content analysis
method also have some disadvantages. It is accused of being too much
‘atheoretical’ (Bryman and Bell 2003) and most of the times cannot explain the
answers of question ‘Why’ (Maylor and Blackmon 2005)
Limitations within research study are:
3. Due to lack of time, limited numbers of participants were interviewed. Inclusion
of more participants would have increased the level of validity and reliability.
4. Limited numbers of questions were asked from participants of interviews and
focus groups. Detail interviews and focus groups would have given more handy
results on cultural influence on participant’s behaviour.
5. Participants from other nationalities in mainstream and ethnic cultures might also
have included for further deep understanding.
6. The participants selected for this study had similar demographical data i.e. single
and students. Data strength would have been increased with the selection of
varied demographic participants.
This chapter has discussed in detail the methodology of research design, data
collection techniques and participants’ description. Furthermore, the method used for Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
depicting findings of collected data and its analysis is also explained. The next
chapter will cover the outcomes of data gathered and its implications. Based on the
results, first three objectives of this study (given in section 1.3.1) will be met. The last
objective i.e. implication of this research study for high street retailers will be given
in conclusion and recommendations. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
FI N D I N G S
This chapter will present the results of interviews and focus groups gathered during
this research study. It is divided into two sections. The first section elucidates the
results from interviews from two different cultural participants’ i.e. ethnic participants
and mainstream participants. The second section covers the findings of focus group,
also from ethnic participants and mainstream participants. These results are analysed
using the content analysis method explained in methodology i.e. section 3.8.
4.1 Findings from interviews
During the research study, semi-structured interviews were conducted among 15
participants from ethnic and mainstream cultures. Both interview groups were asked
the same questions apart from minor changes in selection of apparel preferences,
which were changed with respect to their cultural norms and values. For the
convenience of participants, they were also shown the pictures of other groups’
As stated in previous chapter, aesthetics are the ideas of beauty and appearance in
material culture. The interview questions were designed according to research pattern
given in figure 1.1, to assess the participants’ involvement with apparel aesthetics,
attachment with their values and beliefs, life style patterns in different seasons and
their preferred apparel brands. They were also questioned to assess the level of
confidence and peers pressure while wearing eastern or western clothes.
The interview questions were selected from surveys conducted by O’ Cass in 2004
and 2000, Flynn and Goldsmith in 1999, Auty and Elliot in 1998 and Richins and
Dawson in 1992. The main theme of these questions was to assess involvement and
attachment with their cultural values and beliefs and its impact on consumer
behaviour. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
4.1.1 Ethnic Participants Interviews
Total 8 ethnic participants interviews were conducted, 4 of which were tape recorded
and transcribed. One of the interviews is given in appendix C. These participants
were from Pakistan and India and age between 21-27 years. Moreover, these
participants are in UK for past 1-4 years and going through their undergraduate and
post-graduate degree programmes in different universities. The interviews were
conducted in a time period of 2 weeks. The findings from ethnic group are explained
and analysed hereafter.
two questions of interview were taken from Aron O’ Cass’s (2004) research to
assess the involvement in apparels. The first question was about an average
percentage of total monthly budgets spent on apparels. The answers were in range of
20pc-30pc, which shows participants’ interest at a significant level in apparels. As
interviewee 4 added:
Yes, I am fashion-oriented and like to buy clothes which ever I think
will suits me. In the winter or summer season’s start, I plan with my
family for shopping and buy whatever is ‘in’ fashion. Some times my
spending is more then what I had planned from my budget, but I
manage it with my forthcoming monthly budgets.
According to Kotler (2003), consumers plan ahead for the purchase of ‘shopping
goods’ only, which require high level of involvement. Furthermore, in order to
measure the involvement in 2
question, participants were given a scale from 1 to 5,
1 being lowest level of involvement and 5 being highest level of involvement. Most
participants fall in the range of 4, which verify the result of 1
The next block of questions was about the consumer preference for winter and
summer clothing. These questions were asked in order to check consumer preferences
within their cultural clothing and apparels. A very interesting dilemma is noted in the
replies of these questions from British born immigrants and the immigrants staying Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
for a short period of time. According to interviewee 2, from London:
Well, I usually wear Shalwar-Kameez (a Pakistani Dress) at home.
That is more casual, comfortable and relaxing. But I think it is more
about my values, parents and the relative who are visiting our palace.
They expect me and my sisters to be more Pakistani and culturally
bound. As far as university or work place clothing is concerned, I am
free to select what ever I want, but within my religious and cultural
As shown in graph 4.1, 87% of British-Pakistanis and British-Indian participants were
more inclined towards jeans or trousers with shirt or ‘Kurta’ (a type of embossed
shirt) as out-of-home dresses. Moreover, 75% of participants rejected any western
dress at home including jeans, as shown in graph 4.2. These replies clearly indicate
that the migrants are trying to go along with the mainstream culture of UK while
practicing the norms and values of their previous cultures. These values are fed in the
minds of children in the early stages of youth and are practiced through out the life
span of individuals.
Ou t-o f-H ome App a rels
Graph 4.1: Out-of-home apparel selection by ethnic participants Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
– 39 –
Ou t-o f-H ome Ap p a re ls
E thnicA pparel
Graph 4.2: In-home apparel selection by ethnic participants
The participants were also questioned to assess their attachment with their cultural
values. They were asked the reason to choose those dresses. Most of the participants
put their weight in categories of fashion, practicing social norms and following family
traditions, as shown in graph 4.3.
S oc ial Norm s
Graph 4.3: Values preferences by ethnic participants Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
– 40 –
These answers clearly indicate attachment with social values as well as desire to keep
pace with ‘in’ fashion. This is due to the peer pressure, which further raise the
question of confidence in individuals.
When it was enquired that in which dress do they would feel more confident i.e. their
native cultural dress or mainstream cultural dress; most of the answers were vague
and unclear. According to one interviewee 8:
It all depends on situation and circumstances, for example, if you are
going in a party or celebration where all of your close relative will
wear Sari or Kurta, you can’t wear jeans or skirt in between them.
Obviously you will feel confident looking like hem, not a separate
identity. Same is the case when you go for job.
The peer pressure directly affects the confidence level in individuals. The fitting of
apparels, brand name and ‘in’ fashion are at secondary importance. Cultural values,
norms and rituals hold the most important place in ethnic minority groups, who are
pushing to keep their culture alive.
The final segment of questions was asked to assess the brand loyalty. Most of the
respondents said they are brand loyal and purchase from Next, H&M, MKone and
Doherty Perkin0073. According to them, they prefer these brands as they are fashionoriented and keep the latest inventory of clothes. Participants also showed high level
of interest in buying their ethnic minority clothes from these brands. This response is
support the idea that respondents would go for increased shopping from places which
take care of their interests.
4.1.2 Mainstream Participants Interviews
Total 7 mainstream participants were interviewed whereas none of the interview was
tape recorded. The participants were from England and Italy and age between 22-28
years. These participants were students and doing their postgraduate or undergraduate Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
from universities. The same questions were asked from mainstream participants apart
from minor changes in dress choices. The data was collected for a period of 2 weeks
and is explained henceforth.
Even though the involvement in clothing brands was found at level 3 (from scale 1-5,
1 being lowest and 5 being highest involvement) in mainstream participants, but the
spending was between 15pn-20pc, which is quite less then ethnic participants. This
indicates that the high level of involvement do not suggest amplified spending.
The next questions were asked in order to check consumer preferences within their
cultural clothing and apparels. The major preferences during summer season were
mini skirts, sleeveless shirts, jeans and hot pants whereas for winter season were
jumpers, coats, jeans and jerseys or sweater. It is important to note that unlike ethnic
participants, mainstream respondents were more determined to practice their cultural
values and beliefs at home, work place or any social gatherings by wearing their
preferred clothes. Graph 4.4 shows mainstream participants in-home and out-of-home
InH ome&Ou t-o f-H omeAp p a re ls
E thnicA pparel
Graph 4.4: In-home & out-of-home apparel selection by mainstream participant Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
Moreover, when it was enquired that why do they wear their preferred clothes, the
answers were fashion and fashion, tradition, celebrity enforcement. Because of the
impact of these traditions and values, majority of participants rejected any possibility
for ethnic cultural clothes, as they do not relate to them.
S oc ial Norm s
Graph 4.5: Values preference by mainstream participants
According to these participants, they will not look good in these dresses and their
confidence will be shattered. According to interviewee 6, from Oxford:
It is impossible for me to wear Asian clothes, not at all. I have never
tried them on me and I don’t think there is any chance that I would
look good in it. Also, I don’t want to be bullies by my friends. They will
not accept it even if it is fashion or culture, until and unless it is
As mentioned by her, there is no chance that their peer groups accept it even if it is
‘in’ fashion. These responses clearly indicate a hard line drawn between eastern and
western culture by mainstream participants. The pressure from peer group and the
idea of ‘self image’ is very much visible from these answers and holds utter Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
importance. Also the major brands identified by mainstream participants for shopping
were Next, Top Shop, H&M, MKone, and Gap. According to these respondents, they
don’t hesitate to buy from other brands in high street if better things are available
Lastly, the respondent’s involvement level in mentioned brands was found healthy,
even if these brands sell ethnic cultural wears. This shows a high level of brand
loyalty within mainstream participants. According to one interviewee 3, from London:
I live near-buy South-hall, one the biggest shopping markets of Asian
clothes in London. Some times I visit it with my mother or sister for
routine shopping. There are a lot of things that you can use casually
like sandals, flip flops, summer tops and jumpers and especially
jewellery. I have bought a lot of my things from their and no doubt that
I will buy them, if these things are available in high-streets brands.
It is important to note there that participants showed their interest in buying the
commodities which match their own culture from an ethnic shopping mall; the
implication is that mainstream cultures accept to buy possessions from places where
ethnic cultures buy. This also shows that mainstream cultures adopt, accept and adjust
with ethnic cultures.
4.2 Interview questions tabulation
In order to assess the popular and non-popular themes, the interviews were divided in
5 different domains. The comparison of ethnic and mainstream cultures by using this
coding technique is given in table 4.1. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
Domain 1: Involvement in
apparels. (2 Questions)
High level of involvement at
4 (1 being lowest and 5 being
20pc-30pc monthly budget
Moderate level of involvement
at 3 (1 being lowest and 5
15pc-20pc monthly budget
Domain 2: Preference for
winter and summer clothes.
Different preferences for inhome and outdoor wears
Same preferences for in-home
and outdoor wears.
Domain 3: Attachment
with cultural values. (2
Positive towards fashion and
following social norms
Positive towards fashion,
maintaining identity and
following social norms
Domain 4: Confidence and
peer pressure. (4 Questions)
Mixed opinion for western
Increased level of confidence
with western cultural clothes
at job or work place and
Asian clothes in eastern social
Highly positive towards peer
Strong negative opinion for
Asian clothing and apparels.
Decreased level of confidence
and shattered self image with
Highly positive towards peer
Domain 5: Brand loyalty (3
Positive towards brand
Aim for increased shopping if
these brands keep Asian
Moderate signs of brand
Interest in brands found
healthy if they start keeping
Table 4.1: Interview questions tabulation Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
4.3 Findings from Focus Group
During two focus group sessions, questions were asked from 10 participants from
ethnic and mainstream cultures. Both groups were enquired the same question apart
from minor changes in selection of apparel preferences, which were changed
according to their cultural norms and values. Alike interview sessions, pictures of
other groups’ cultural apparels were also shown to participants.
The question were structured according to research pattern given in figure 1.1, in
order to assess the participants’ involvement with apparel aesthetics, attachment with
their values and beliefs, life style patterns in different seasons and their preferred
apparel brands. They were also questioned to assess the confidence and peer pressure
while wearing eastern or western clothes.
The focus group questions were similar to those of interview questions and were
selected from the same surveys conducted by different authors mentioned earlier. The
main theme of these questions was to assess involvement and attachment with their
cultural values and beliefs and its impact on consumer behaviour.
4.3.1 Ethnic participants’ focus group
Ethnic participants’ focus group included 5 members from Pakistan and India and age
between 21-26 years. These Participants are living in UK for past 1-4 years and going
through their post-graduate and undergraduate programmes in different universities.
This focus group was conducted at researchers’ home premises and had duration of 30
minutes. The findings from ethnic focus group are explained and analysed henceforth.
Most of the participants spend an average of 20pc-25pc of their total monthly budget
on apparels. The big amounts are spent on seasonal sales or monthly special offers in
big stores. According to the respondents, they look for sales or offers through out the
year and save considerable amount of money from these benefits. It is important to
note here that the budget mentioned by these participants is less then the budget cited Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
by interviewed participants. Social pressure within the group led to a precise budget
figure rather then estimated numbers. Moreover, the hunt for sales promotions in high
streets shows a high level of involvement and interest in apparels and clothing.
The preferences of clothes, in-house and out-of-home, were identical to those of
interviewed. According to the respondents, they wear Shalwar-Kameez or Kurta at
home whereas jeans, trousers or full-sleeves shirts for work or university purposes.
The reasons mentioned by these participants were also similar to the interviewed
respondents i.e. keeping the native culture alive at home whereas participating and
sharing equally with mainstream culture. These answers show a resistance from
members and groups of ethnic cultures to completely accept and practice mainstream
or counter culture.
Moreover, all members of group unanimously declined to wear western clothes such
as mini-skirts, hot pants or deep necks. According to them, these clothes will not be
accepted by their family or friends and certainly will shatter their confidence in social
gatherings, even if they are ‘in’ fashion and accepted by society at large. The agreed
behaviour of whole group for western clothes shows a high level of peer pressure and
strong commitment with their values and beliefs.
At the end, the group as enquired for their loyalty towards high street brands. Most of
the participants buy from Next, Debenhams, New Look, Primark, Top Shop and
Doherty Perkins. All the participants had encountered sale experience from these
brands once or more. Increased interest and elevated buying were mentioned by group
members if these brands start keeping ethnic cultures dresses and apparels.
4.3.2 Mainstream participants’ focus group
Mainstream participants’ focus group included 5 members from United Kingdom and
Italy and aged between 22-27 years. 3 of these participants were born and living in
UK whereas 2 participants came from Italy last year i.e. 2007. This focus group was Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
conducted in British institute of technology and e commerce Halls for duration of 25
minutes. The findings of this focus group are as follows:
According to the respondents, the average monthly budget spent on apparels is
between 15pc-25pc, which is slightly less then ethnic participants’ budget. The
members showed their interest in buying dresses and apparels from sales as well as in
normal shopping days. According to these participants, they don’t just wait for
seasonal or monthly sales but also go along with fad and fashion and buy what ever
they think will suits them. These answers show a high involvement in apparels
throughout the year.
The preferences of clothes, in-house and out-of-home, were identical to those of
interviewed. According to them, the major preferences during summer season were
sleeveless shirts with jeans or trousers, mini-skirts and hot pants whereas for winter
season were jumpers, coats, jeans and jerseys or sweater. When it was enquired that
why do they wear their preferred clothes, the answers were to look fashionable and
following cultural and social norms. These answers indicate a strong sense of
association with ‘in’ fashion and their cultural values and beliefs.
Moreover, these respondents were also determined to wear their native cultural
apparels at home, work place or any social gatherings. Because of the impact of these
social gatherings and norms, most of participants rejected any possibility to wear
ethnic cultures apparels. According to these participants, their close friends and
family members will not accept them in those dresses. From these responses, it is
clear that peer pressure plays an important role in buying behaviour of society.
Lastly, the important brands identified by the mainstream participants for shopping
were Next, Top Shop, H&M, Zara, Debenhams, asos and Gap. The respondent also
showed interest in these brands even if they sell ethnic cultural wears. This shows a
high level of brand loyalty within mainstream participants. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
This chapter has discussed the results of interviews and focus groups. Participants’
involvement, interest and association with cultural values and beliefs were also
discussed. In addition, these results and findings were assessed by using content
analysis method. Moreover, these results have helped meeting the 1
given in section 1.3.1. The next chapter will discuss these objectives and obtained
results with respect to the literature review presented in chapter 2 followed by
conclusion and recommendations. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
DI S C U S S I O N
This chapter will analyse the finding with respect to the literature review presented in
chapter 2. Based on the research objectives, literature review and findings, the
discussion will advance to examine three concepts: the effects of culture on
consumers’ selection of apparels and wears followed by effects of clothing and
fashion apparels on self image and confidence. Lastly, the influence of culture on
consumer behaviour and brand selection decision will be discussed.
5.1 Culture and its influence
The visibility of sub-cultures (Keegan 2006) in mainstream culture is noticeable in
this research. These sub-cultures are practiced according to the native national
cultures of consumers. Consumers act and behave according to these sub-cultures’
values and beliefs and pass them to next generation. Moreover, the selection of
eastern dresses by ethnic participants and western dresses by mainstream participants
for social gatherings reflects profound group pressures for cultural coherence. These
group pressures are concerned with development of unique experiences for
individuals, which makes them feel special as well as part of their native society
The dilemma of in-home and out-of home apparels’ selection reflects motivation of
eastern participants to keep a balance between ethnic and mainstream cultures. This
balance helps them to maintain their social identity as a mainstream cultural member
as well as allowing them to buttress manifestations and values of ethnic culture
(Hofstede 1991). These values are fed by immigrants in the minds of their children at
young age (Douglous 2006), so that new generation can keep these traditions alive.
These traditions also allow them to go parallel with mainstream cultural values. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
Furthermore, the reasons mentioned by ethnic as well as mainstream participants for
the selection of their preferred clothes are similar i.e. ‘in’ fashion, keeping up their
cultural identity and pursuing social norms. According to Salter (1997), norms and
values arises within the way of life of people and give them solidarity and identity.
Hence, relationship with native culture gives a sense of identity and cohesion within
individuals. Moreover, individuals’ selection of ‘in’ fashion was also found to be in
accordance to the cultural values and beliefs, which strengthen the Salter (1997)
social norms concept.
Moreover, when the individuals from ethnic culture were inquired if they could use
some western culture apparels (jeans, tops, jerseys, jumpers and etc), a positive
opinion was received. According to Nguyen and Barrett (2008), individual from a
sub-culture adopt manifestations from mainstream or dominant culture. These
adopted manifestations became part of sub-culture and consumer mind set while
reinforcing further behaviour. The adoption process is shown in figure 2.7 and is
clearly support by this study.
5.2 Effects of culture and apparels on self confidence
Empirical study conducted by Cass (2004) proved that fashion apparel increase
confidence and satisfaction among individuals. Participants of this study also showed
a high level of confidence in wearing fashion apparels and wears in social gathering.
Confidence in participants was found significantly low and shattered while going for
out of fashion and old clothing apparels.
Moreover, as mentioned by Shim et al. (1991), clothing has important symbolic
meanings in social interactions. These social interactions are family, relatives, peer
groups and other social groups within society. Social gatherings in ethnic or
mainstream culture represent their traditions and values. Aesthetics, clothing and
apparels are one of the ways by which these traditions and values are visible to outer
world. Participants showed their concerns for odd or culturally unacceptable apparels
in social gathering and interactions, as these will not be accepted by stakeholders. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
There is an increase desire of self-expression (Evans 1989) and fashion is one of the
most important methods for it. Fashion concept is often a manifestation of self image.
This self image is projected in society with apparels and wears used by individuals.
Also, the participants of this study showed a positive relationship between self image
and apparels. Some participants never tried opposite culture’s clothes as they thought
that they will not look good in it. The imagination of bodily self-image did not allow
them to wear those apparels.
Here the concept of self reference criterion (SRC) is revisited in figure 5.1. Self
reference criterion is the unconscious reference to one’s own cultural values or one’s
home country frame of reference (Lee 1966). Individuals grown up in different
contexts possess negative and unfavourable feelings for customs and values of
opposite cultures, especially the ones which are unacceptable in their native culture.
Participants of this study also showed a strong negative response to the apparels
which are undesirable in their national cultures.
Fig 5.1: Demographics & personality variables with lifestyle, self concept & consumer behaviour
Source: Adopted from Foxel et. al. (1998) Consumer Psychology of Marketing 2
Edition p. 148
Moreover, as mentioned by Loader (1999), an individual’s behaviour is a result of that
individual’s cultural value system for a particular context. Demographic and
personality development milieus play an important role in shaping concept of self
image and life style patterns. These personality and demographic traits are
strengthened in initials childhood stages of ethnic and mainstream participants’,
where parent and peer group appreciate culturally acceptable clothing and apparels.
These personality traits and life style patterns have permanently shaped their
behaviour towards opposite cultures
S R C Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
5.3 Culture, consumer behaviour and brand Selection
Brands are one of the important factors that influence groups to accept or reject an
individual in a society. Most of the participants of study were found brand loyal and
regular buyers from specific brands. Among the most mentioned brands are Next,
Doherty Perkins, Gap, MKone, Top Shop and H&M. All of these are well known
brands and exist in every famous high street of UK. It is important to note that no one
mentioned M&S, one of the biggest high street brands. Consumers often choose
certain products, services and brands over other because they are associated with a
certain life style (Brandon 2003 cited in Forney, Park and Brandon 2005). None of
the participants wanted to be associate with M&S as it is considered for old
generation life style in UK.
The study by Aaker and Schmitt (1997) shows difference between eastern and
western consumers decision for brand selection. As eastern consumers are more
collectivist then western, they use brands to reassert their similarity with members of
their reference group. This study paper proves the previous research in this regard.
When it was inquired from ethnic participants, if they would still buy apparels from
theses brands, if they start keeping ethnic apparels, a highly positive response were
received. These positive answers from ethnic participants show their high association
towards these brands as majority of their social groups will buy from these them. The
association with these brands will make them confident and satisfied in social
gatherings and interactions.
Moreover, individualist consumers use brands to differentiate themselves to referent
from others (Aaker and Schmitt 1997). This statement was found contrary in this
study as healthy involvement in above-mentioned brands was identified even if they
sell ethnic apparels. Mainstream participants will buy western apparels from these
brands as eastern or ethnic apparels will not b accepted by their peer groups. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
As mentioned by Poon (2003), economic and cultural differences lead to substantial
variation in behaviour of consumer. These differences guide societies and civilisation
to varied way of life and value system. This chapter have looked into these
differences with respect to literature review presented in this report. The next chapter
will present conclusion and finally the recommendations for managers, entrepreneurs
and researchers for further studies in this regard. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
CO N C L U S I O N&RE C O M M E N D A T I O N S
With growing migration patterns throughout the world, it is becoming difficult for
entrepreneurs as well as for researchers to depict and meet demands of society. These
migrations, which result in interaction between different cultures, play an important
role in moulding consumer needs and wants. Consumer values systems, attitudes and
mind-sets are modifying accordingly with the changes in society. These values,
beliefs and attitude plays important role in our daily lives and shape them
accordingly. Our feelings, involvement, and reactions towards certain objects are
developed and silhouette by members of society.
This dissertation has sought to discuss the factors that effect consumer behaviour in a
multi-cultural society. The differences between eastern and western cultures are
highlighted in this report while focusing their values and attitude towards apparels
and clothing. The influence on consumer behaviour is then analysed from the
participants’ feedback is and linked to the previous studies conducted in this regards.
Revisiting objectives of this dissertation report, first 3 targets of this dissertation are
achieved and examined in discussion and analysis chapters. The last objective, i.e.
advantages and disadvantages for retailers, is explained here. One of the main
advantages for keeping cross-cultural apparels will be higher turnover which in turn
will boost sales of company. Higher sales will bring more profit for retailers in high
streets. Another advantage for retailers would be brand reorganisation amongst
different buyers from different countries. This will reduce entry barriers in those
countries. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
These benefits will also bring some disadvantages with them. One of the main
disadvantages will be issue of brand reposition in UK market. According to Aaker
and Schmitt (1997), individualist consumers use brands to differentiate themselves to
referent from others. The focus of new position would be to attract more and more
customer, keeping brand superiority and uniqueness at side. This might repel
hardliner western customers who wanted to buy from these brands for differentiated
Suggestion for managers and retailers are presented in this section based on the
finding and discussion. Suggestions for researchers are as follows.
1. This study was conducted in West London, amongst the students and part time
jobbers. Further research can include other areas of London, Birmingham,
Manchester and Bradford, as these cities have high ratio of immigrants from
different countries. Diverse answers from participants of these cities can further
clarify relationship of culture and consumer behaviour. Moreover, recent
immigration trends can base further research in this regards. The immigrants from
Eastern Europe include Poland and Lithuanian citizens.
2. Further study in self reference criterion needs to be carried out. This concept can
unveil consumer understanding of different objects and commodities. Moreover,
it can help in development of frameworks that elucidate culture and its influence.
Further studies on SRC are very much necessary for deep insight into aesthetical
element of culture.
3. Some of the participants mentioned religious factor for selecting apparels.
Religious beliefs play a very important role in individual’s life. It is very difficult
to separate culture from religion and its influences. Religious factor become more
important while conducting research on Eastern or Asian values and beliefs. This
aspect of culture can be carried out in future researches on culture and its
influence. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
4. Cultural influence on brand loyalty is discussed very briefly in this report. Culture
plays an important role in binding consumer emotions, feelings and attitude
towards a brand. These cultural influences on brand loyalty and attachment can be
carried out in further researches.
Moreover, some of the important recommendations for retailers and managers are
also presented here.
1. As mentioned before, keeping cross-cultural apparels in different outlets would
increase their sales and ultimately profits. This will increase store traffic which
can influence brand sales.
2. The cross-cultural traffic might hit the existing customer’s perception for brand
negatively. Hard-line mainstream customers might not like to shop from outlets
where ethnic consumers buy apparels. For this reason, separate outlets can be
introduced in ethnic consumer’s majority areas. This will increase profits while
safeguarding brand’s position in consumer mind. Relationship between consumer culture and brand selection decision: Study on UK fashion retailers
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