Academic journal article International Journal of Design

The Influence of Visual and Tactile Inputs on Denim Jeans Evaluation

Academic journal article International Journal of Design

The Influence of Visual and Tactile Inputs on Denim Jeans Evaluation

Article excerpt


Many prior studies show that generally consumers have expectations of a product they want to purchase (Jensen, 2001; Santos & Boote, 2003). However, buying motives can be diverse and complicated. Modern consumers do not purchase clothing solely to fulfill physical needs; they also seek additional benefits such as sensory pleasure, symbolic meaning, psychological and experiential values (Rahman, Yan, & Liu, 2010; Rahman, Liu, Lam, & Chan, 2011). According to Fiore and Kimle (2010), products' aesthetics may stimulate positive and pleasant sensory response, arouse emotional feelings/expression and create symbolic meaning. For example, a dress display in a department store window may not only draw a pedestrian's attention, but could also arouse various aesthetic responses. However, if the viewer dislikes the appearance of a dress, she may not wish to examine the product further, such as by feeling the fabric or trying the garment on. In other words, first impressions may evoke consumer's positive (interest, pleasure) or negative (disappointment, revulsion) response.

To understand how consumers may think (cognition), feel (emotion) and act (behaviour) toward any specific physical aspect of a product, this study focuses on intrinsic cues (e.g., style and colour) rather than extrinsic cues (e.g., price and brand name). These aspects seem to be particularly important to young consumers when assessing apparel products, especially when determining their ultimate choice (De Long, LaBat, Nelson, Koh, & Kim, 2002; Rahman, Zhu, & Liu, 2008; Rahman, Yan, & Liu 2009; Swinker & Hines, 2006). However, several prior research studies have been unable to reveal the motives underlying consumer preferences and choices. For example, Rahman et al. (2008, 2009) employed the Likert-scale instrument to measure and identify the significance of product cues in two apparel studies (pyjamas and sleepwear), but the reasons underlying their respondents' preferences were not fully illuminated, or explained.

Additionally, there are few research studies examining the sensory aspects of clothing (i.e., visual and tactile), particularly compared to other categories of design. As De Klerk and Lubbe (2008) state in their apparel research study, "No specific research, directed to the role of aesthetics in assessing quality of apparel during this process [decision-making], could be traced" (p. 37). This is not the case in respect of industrial design and other consumer products, where there is a considerable literature examining the sensory modalities of products. These have encompassed touch perception regarding a material's physical properties (cardboard, flexible materials and laminate boards) (Chen et al., 2009); sensory modalities (e.g., electronics, electric appliances, furniture, sports equipment) (Fenko et al., 2009); aesthetic package design (Reimann, Zaichkowsky, Neuhaus, Bender, & Weber, 2010); aesthetic responses to new product design (e.g., refrigerator, telephone, lamp, clock) (Veryzer & Hutchinson, 1998) and aesthetic interaction of intelligent lamps (Ross & Wensveen, 2010).

Significance of Sensory Stimulation

Consumers often use sensory stimulation to infer product quality and value. Kahn and Deng (2010) argue, "Consumers often shop with 'their eyes' and ignore package label information" (p. 260). Other researchers (e.g., Schifferstein & Cleiren, 2005) have also asserted that, "Vision and touch provide the most detailed information about a product. ... Therefore, vision and touch are likely to dominate product perception and experience in real-life situations" (p. 312). In the evaluation of clothing, it is evident that sight and touch often play a significant role in consumer's sensory perception (De Klerk & Lubbe, 2008).

Sensory elements have been recognized as salient evaluative determinant for many young consumers, a demographic that often looks for novelty and sensory gratification to satisfy their aspirations (Park, Jaworski, & MacInnis, 1986). …

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