Consumers' conceptualization of apparel attributes and apparel quality
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Examining the attributes that affect consumers' perceptions of product quality has been of pivotal interest in marketing research. The objectives of this study were (1) to identify and classify attributes that play a significant role at time of purchase and during use of apparel, (2) to compare expectations of apparel attributes at time of purchase with perceptions of attributes as the apparel product is being used, (3) to identify attributes that are predictors of perceived quality at expectation stage and at the post-purchase evaluation stage, and (4) to propose a model for consumers' perceptions of apparel quality;Five focus group interviews were conducted to identify attributes of apparel that consumers use to assess garments at time of purchase and during use of the clothing items. Seventy-nine attributes related to women s dresses were identified;Using attributes generated in the focus group interviews, a quantitative study was undertaken. Perceived quality was measured at two stages: expectation at time of ordering a dress and after use of the dress. The second questionnaire was mailed after six weeks and measured consumers' perceptions of the performance of the dress during use;Principal component analysis indicated four factor scores for expectation and post-purchase evaluation. The overall perceived quality of the dress was examined using regression. The dependent variable, overall quality of the dress, was regressed with the factor scores of attributes, benefit scores, demographics, and years of experience in shopping with Lands' End;Consumers' perception of quality is dynamic. Perceptions of quality vary as the product is being used and the consumer becomes more informed about the product. A model has been proposed to illustrate the dynamic nature of quality. The study has implications for retailers. The study also makes suggestions for further empirical research in order to broaden understanding of consumers' perceptions of quality.