Keywords: consumer behaviour, intimate apparel, involvement, self-concept Cathy Hart Business School, Loughborough University, Ashby Road, Loughborough, Leics LE11 3TU, UK Tel: 44 (0) 1509 223612 Fax: 44 (0) 1509 223961 E-mail : [email protected] An exploratory study of the consumer decision process for intimate apparel Received: 30th November 2000 Cathy Hart is a lecturer in retailing and operations management at the Business School, Loughborough University, UK. Prior to entering academia, Cathy worked as a designer and marketing manager for manufacturing companies before moving to the retail industry. Her research interests include merchandise assortment strategy in food and fashion retailing, E-tail strategy and competence development in higher education. Belinda Dewsnap is a lecturer in marketing at the Business School at Loughborough University, which she joined in 1995. Prior to this she held positions in sales, trade marketing, commercial and logistics for two multinational organisations and was operations manager of a consumer goods company. Her current major research interests focus on the working interface between marketing and sales, and on marketing organisations. Abstract In contrast to outer apparel, academic research has neglected consumer behaviour for intimate apparel or lingerie. It is argued that within this category the bra deserves singular research attention. This paper presents the results of exploratory research designed to explore in depth the bra consumer decision process. The key findings indicate a highly involved consumer who is motivated by a complex range of interlinked factors, and a consumer who desires to be brand loyal in order to enjoy a less extensive decision process, but who is prevented from doing so by high levels of perceived risk and ‘obstructive’ marketing. The authors offer directions for future empirical research based on the consumer behavioural constructs of involvement, perceived risk and the self-concept. Implications for marketing management are also discussed. Introduction As a product category, apparel or clothing is regarded as a complex consumer product (Mitchell 1999). Apparel has therefore been a popular choice for studies of consumer behaviour, particularly in relation to perceived risk (Dowling and Staelin 1994; Jasper and Ouellette 1994) and involvement (Laurent and Kapferer 1985). In contrast to outer apparel, however, very little is understood about consumer behaviour for the essentially invisible and highly personal category of intimate apparel. Within this category the bra deserves singular research attention. The complex physical nature of the bra and the unique physiological make- up of each bra wearer combine to suggest that consumer behaviour for bras will be different from that for other apparel. In terms of physiology, women’s breasts are not symmetrical, and no two female shapes are the same. To compound the physiological problems, lifecycle stages affect breast shape, and child bearing, 108 Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management & Henry Stewart Publications 1361-2026 (2001) Vol. 5, 2, 108–119
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