Effects of Model Age on Adult Female Consumers' Purchase Intentions and Attitudes for an Age-Specific Product, Clothing

By Kozar, Joy M. | International Journal of Marketing Studies, April 2012 | Go to article overview

Effects of Model Age on Adult Female Consumers' Purchase Intentions and Attitudes for an Age-Specific Product, Clothing


Kozar, Joy M., International Journal of Marketing Studies


Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of model age on female consumers' purchase intentions and attitudes for an age-specific product such as clothing. The sample for this study consisted of 377 women between the ages of 30-80. The instrument designed for this study included four major scales to assess participants' beliefs about fashion models depicted in clothing advertisements, participants' purchase intentions of the clothing worn by the models in the advertisements, participants' perceived similarity to the models shown in the ads, and participants' perceived fashionability of the clothing worn by the models. The stimuli used in this study included four full-colored photographs of current fashion models. Findings revealed that participants preferred older models over younger models, with consumers exhibiting greater purchase intent of clothing appearing on older models. Moreover, perceived similarity was found to be a significant predictor of participants' perspectives of the models, in terms of appearance and attractiveness, fashionability, and purchase intentions.

Keywords: Apparel purchasing behavior, Baby Boomers, Fashion advertisements, Generation X, Social comparison

1. Review of Literature

Today's apparel retailers are faced with a variety of challenges in the marketplace, including a lack of interest and spending among consumers, fierce competition, and a sluggish economy. Recent reports cite the impact of the prolonged recession coupled with slow consumer spending and an over-saturated market on retail sales (Berk, 2009; Linn, 2008). During a period of six consecutive months in 2008, overall retail sales fell, culminating with the 2008 holiday season characterized as "one of the worst" in decades (Moin, 2008). Department stores and apparel specialty retailers are among those firms struggling most to compete (Rosenbloom, 2009). Consumer spending accounts for 70% of total economic activity; a drop in retail sales in May and June of 2010 "raised fears that the economy could be in danger of slipping back into recession" ("Department store sales," 2010). During the 2008 holiday season, sales for women's apparel, men's apparel, and footwear declined 22.7%, 14.3%, and 13.5%, respectively (Moin, 2008). During the 2010 holiday season, a 5.5% sales increase among U.S. apparel retailers was recorded (Timberlake, 2008). Nonetheless, Horyn (2009) describes the current business climate for designer fashion labels as "the chilliest...in years" (n.p.).

Retailers also continue to cut back on inventory and close stores; in March 2009, retailers slashed inventories for the seventh straight month, the longest stretch since 2002. Sales at specialty clothing retailers fell 0.5% in March 2009, while department and general merchandise stores reported a 0.1% drop ("Retail Sales Fall," 2009). In a national study of over 5,000 American consumers, participants noted reduced overall spending for numerous product categories, including purchases for new apparel goods and accessory items ("Americans expect," 2009).

In response to the current economic and marketplace conditions, it is evident that retailers must identify strategies or methods to re-stimulate consumer spending and drive sales. A multitude of literature noting apparel retailers' general zeal for teenage and young adult consumers exists, while an overall disinterest in other consumer groups is typical. Yet, it is these "other" consumer groups, including Generation X and Baby Boomers, that have greater spending power and aren't nearly as capricious as younger target markets (O'Donnell, Petrecca, & Butrymowicz, 2008; WGSN, 2007). According to a report published by CNBC ("American boomers," 2006), targeting Baby Boomers is a lucrative strategy for invigorating consumer interest, particularly when considering the $2 trillion spending power of Boomers. As reported by Florin, Callen, Mullen, and Kropp (2007), Baby Boomers have acquired greater sums of wealth and have more spending power than any other cohort in history. …

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