Professional Women's Variety-Seeking Behavior in Fashion Clothing: New York City and London

By Mandhachitara, Rujirutana; Piamphongsan, Thinada | Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, January 2011 | Go to article overview

Professional Women's Variety-Seeking Behavior in Fashion Clothing: New York City and London


Mandhachitara, Rujirutana, Piamphongsan, Thinada, Academy of Marketing Studies Journal


INTRODUCTION

According to Solomon and Rabolt (2004), fashion is "a form of collective behavior, or a wave of social conformity" (p.19) and refers to "a style that is accepted by a large group of people at a given time" (p.6). Fashion has been defined by Sproles (1979) as a behavior temporarily adopted by most members of a social group based upon a sense of appropriateness for the time and situation. New culturally integrated styles and behaviors lead to commonly shared experiences within a society that in turn effect changes in cultural variables (Thompson and Haytko, 1997). The modernization process has led to attitudinal changes, enabling consumers to become less critical in their self-evaluations, more open to new ideas, as well as developing positive attitudes toward self-expression and individuality (Murray, 2002; Thompson and Haytko, 1997).

The dissemination of women's attire styles, fashions and brands is now virtually instantaneous rather than sequential (Hamilton, 1997). Fashion styles change quickly (Miller-Spillman, Damhorst and Michelman, 2005) and, as a consequence, new meanings attributed to such styles may become inconsistent with the self(Miller, McIntyre and Mantrala, 1993). Consumers adopt new styles with new meanings in large part in order to maintain coherent identities (Piamphongsant and Mandhachitara, 2008). Fashion clothing has always been a strong reflection of social, cultural identity, and social class membership (Au, Taylor, and Newton, 2000). In postmodern times, multiple styles of fashion clothing may be found in trend during the same period (Hamilton, 1997), for example, short and long skirts may be concurrently "in" (Miller-Spillman et al., 2005). The perennial pants suites still enjoy wide acceptance status among professional women dressers, particularly at work.

The global expansion of media companies, particularly women's magazines, facilitates the dissemination of similar fashion information to their target audiences on a contemporaneous basis. The Internet has accelerated this process (Maynard, 2004), and at the same time, there has been an increase both in the number of women in the workplace and in those holding higher ranking positions, permitting them to become more individualistic (Arkin and Bentley, 1995; Entwistle, 2000). At a more personal level, other influences that may affect women's fashion clothing behavior include the concept of self-construal, the level of public and social awareness, as well as the motivation to conform to group norms.

This study examines women's fashion clothing preference and variety-seeking behavior in dressing styles among female professionals working in New York City and London. In the next section, the relevant literature is reviewed, followed sections relate to research methodology, data analysis and its findings, together with a discussion of the results and managerial contributions.

THEORETICAL BACKGROUND

This section reviews constructs relevant to women's tendency to exercise variety-seeking behavior in fashion clothing decisions.

Variety-Seeking Behavior in Fashion Clothing

McAlister and Pessemier (1982) report that variety-seeking can be derived by variations in external forces, namely, the multiple needs and changes in the choice problem and direct variations that are associated with internal or personal attributes. 'Multiple needs' includes multiple users where the variation of product choices is dependent upon the members of a group; multiple situations where behaviors vary by situation; and multiple uses where the products are used for several purposes in certain situations (Laurent, 1987). Hence, behavioral variety is influenced by differing conditions created by specific groups, social situations, and identity development, as well as other external factors including new product information, advertising, and internal factors such as place of residence, age, wealth, and free time availability. …

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