Buying Behaviour

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Buying Behaviour



Effect of Brand Image on Consumer
Purchasing Behaviour on Clothing:
Comparison between
China and the UK’s Consumers

Kwok Keung Tam


A Dissertation presented in part consideration
for the degree of “MSc International Business”

Table of Content

Page numbers
Abstract i

Acknowledgements ii

Chapter 1: Introduction 1
1.1 The importance of brand image on fashion clothing 1
1.2 Background information of China and the UK clothing markets 2
1.2.1 China clothing market 2 Chinese spending habits 3 Impediments to China’s clothing brand development 4
1.2.2 UK clothing market 5 British spending habits 5 Characteristics of the UK clothing market 6
1.3 Theoretical framework 7
1.4 Objectives of the dissertation 7
1.5 Outline of the dissertation 8

Chapter 2: Literature review 10
2.1 Introduction 10
2.2 The important roles of brand 10
2.2.1 The characteristics of successful brands 11
2.3 Brand equity 12
2.3.1 Brand awareness 13
2.3.2 Perceived quality 15
2.3.3 Brand loyalty 16
2.3.4 Brand association 17
2.4 Consumer buying behaviour 19
2.4.1 Models of consumer behaviour 20
2.5 Summary 23

Chapter 3: Methodology 24
3.1 Introduction 24
3.2 Theoretical backgrounds 24
3.2.1 Review of different research traditions 24
3.2.2 Quantitative versus qualitative analysis 25
3.2.3 Reliability and validity of data 26
3.3 Justification of research method 27
3.4 Sampling 29
3.5 Interview schedule 31
3.5.1 Stage one 31
3.5.2 Stage two 32
3.5.3 Stage three 34
3.6 Administration 34
3.7 Analysis strategy 34
3.7.1 Grounded theory and its relationship to qualitative data
3.7.2 Within-case and cross-case analysis 35 Within-case analysis 36 Cross-case analysis 37
3.8 Summary 37

Chapter 4: Research findings and discussion 38
4.1 Introduction 38
4.2 Backgrounds of respondents 38
4.3 Effect of clothing brand image on consumer buying behaviour 40
4.3.1 Significance of clothing brands on consumer purchasing
4.3.2 Brand awareness 43
4.3.3 Perceived quality 46
4.3.4 Brand loyalty 50
4.3.5 Brand association 53
4.3.6 Consumer buying behaviour 54
4.4 Results 56
4.5 Summary 57

Chapter 5: Conclusions 58
5.1 Introduction 58
5.2 Conclusions 58
5.2.1 Significance of clothing brands on consumer purchasing
5.2.2 Brand awareness 59
5.2.3 Perceived quality 59
5.2.4 Brand loyalty 60
5.2.5 Brand association 60
5.2.6 Consumer buying behaviour 61
5.3 Limitations 61
5.4 Implications 62
5.5 Recommendations for further research 64

References 66

Appendix 1: The 100 top brands 2006 79

Appendix 2: Interview questions 80

Appendix 3: Interview transcription 81


Brand is a powerful tool to attract more consumers to buy particular products.
Some may even regarded it as equity as it can add values to the products. This
study examines the factors which contribute to brand equity in the clothing
industry, comparing the consumer behaviour between the British and Chinese
respondents based on the four respects of brand equity, namely brand
awareness, perceived quality, brand loyalty and brand association.

Semi-structured interviews have been conducted to solicit responses from
interviewees for analysis. The findings suggested that Chinese tend to have
negative perceptions towards the quality of clothes produced in their own
country. Having known that China has no influential clothing brands around the
world, it is important that Chinese factory owners together with marketers
should join hands to have better control over the clothes quality. In the UK,
clothing brands are much better developed than its China counterparts,
however, more emphasis should be placed on the marketing strategies such
as rewarding customer loyalty with a view to enhance the sustainable
development of the clothing brands.


I would like to thank my advisor, Dr. Vicky Story, in assisting me to finish the
dissertation. She has given me support as well as valuable comments
throughout the consultation period so that I can manage to handle one of the
hardest subjects in my university life.

In addition, I would also acknowledge my school-mates for their help in the
data collection process. They have devoted their precious time for the
interviews voluntarily and their wholehearted support contributes to the
success of this dissertation.

Last but not least, I would like to extend my gratitude to my family members,
especially my father Chun Shiu Tam who has devoted himself to the clothing
industry for nearly half a century. He has not only inspired me to do this
dissertation, but also encouraged me to face the challenge ahead. This
dissertation is dedicated to my family and I will try my best to do anything.

Chapter 1

1.1 The importance of brand image on fashion clothing
Clothing, as a matter of fact, is a kind of necessity that helps keep our bodies
warm. Human beings cannot live without the protection from clothes in adverse
conditions and this signifies how important clothing is for us. Nowadays, in
addition to the basic functions, clothes can also serve as fashion items, which
can tell how significant an individual is, express the status an individual has
and what their personal image is like (O’Cass, 2000). Thus, clothing can help
represent our personal identity.

Shopping for clothes is one of the popular pastimes among people from all
ages, different genders and cultural backgrounds. Owing to the proliferation of
brands in the clothing sector, consumers need to take serious consideration
during the buying processes. As mentioned by Rayport and Jaworski (2003),
the purchasing processes can be divided into three stages, namely
pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase. Each stage is of equal importance
that can alter the consumer buying decision. Once consumers make a
purchasing decision, consumers may need to recognize their personal needs,
read product information, decide which and where to buy, determine whether
to buy again from the same retailer, choose the buying modes, show
satisfaction to the services or product quality and finally be loyal to the brand.
These highlight the complication of buying processes and the potential impact
a brand could impose in between them.

Several brands, under the influence of globalization and concerted efforts from
media advertising, have become popular not only in their country of origin, but
also in other markets with high potential. Having a strong and remarkable
brand image could help establish an identity in marketplace (Aaker, 1996),
widen the profit margins, encourage greater intermediary co-operation as well
as increase the chance for further brand extension (Delgado-Ballester and
Munuera-Aleman, 2005). In accordance with Delong et al. (2004), consumers
appear to rely on the brand image as long as they have little knowledge about
the brand. In this way, managing brand image is of utmost importance. In order
to differentiate one brand from another, marketers would develop retail brands
with unique image so as to continue to gain popularity and market share
(Abend, 2000; Ailawadi, 2001; Corstjens and Lal, 2000).

The importance of brand image has inspired many marketing scholars and
practitioners to begin researching the concept of ‘brand equity’ (Aaker, 1991,
1996; Keller, 1993, 1998, 2003). Under this concept, brands are regarded as
valuable assets which can help the companies generate lucrative revenues.
In this paper, the concept of brand equity would be utilized as a theoretical
framework, which would be illustrated in the following chapters.

1.2 Background information of China and the UK clothing markets
China and the UK are entirely different in their economic structures. Being an
advanced developing country, China tends to be more dependent on
labour-intensive production activities rather than natural resource-based
activities (Greenaway and Milner, 1993). This may probably explain why China
is now becoming one of the most influential countries within the clothing sector.
On the other hand, the UK has transformed from an industrial country to a
well-developed country in the recent decades. The differences in their
economies have triggered the interest of my study towards their consumer
buying behaviour in the clothing sector.

1.2.1 China clothing market
The clothing industry is one of the most important and hence heavily invested
industry in China, contributing to 74.16 billion US dollars in terms of export
value and leading it to become the second largest clothing export market in
2005 (WTO, 2006). With the accession of World Trade Organization (WTO) in
2001, the development of clothing industry in China becomes even much
faster. It is believed that China could make use of its competitive advantages,
for instances low labour costs and large portions of usable land, to further
strengthen its position in the clothing sector. Nowadays, China plays a role as
a producer, wielding the techniques and human resources to finish the orders
placed by the foreign counterparts. As stated by Cui (1997), China is known for
the manufacture of basic goods in large volumes and foreign registered brands
are often designed elsewhere and produced in China. It is undeniable that the
entry of WTO would provide business opportunities for China. However, this
would also engender intense competition since foreign firms are allowed to sell
their products directly to China. Chinese spending habits
According to a research conducted by the Hong Kong Trade Development
Council (HKTDC) (2002), Chinese customers show divergent opinions with
respect to purchasing clothes. It is shown that they would prefer buying
middle-priced range clothes from Hong Kong and luxury brand-named clothes
made in foreign countries. However, the Grey China Base Annual Consumer
Study (Bates, 1998) reveals that over two thirds of the consumers regard
domestic brands as their first priority. This points out the fact that a large
majority of Chinese is still in favor of domestic brands in low-priced range.

The HKTDC (2002) research also reports on the average annual spending on
clothing. On average, people spend 7.3% of their income on buying clothes
with women professionals having the highest demand and students’ spending
the minimal amount. This disparity is probably due to the fact that
professionals have higher spending power than the students’. Regarding the
criteria for buying clothes, respondents rank fitness as their prime concern,
followed by cutting, pricing, quality and finally trendiness. Chinese brands have
competitive advantage in fitness and pricing (Delong et al., 2004), however,
people still tend to buy luxury clothes produced in the foreign markets. This is
possibly owing to the fact that Chinese brands are confined to low- to
middle-priced range market without fully penetrating to the luxurious level.
Such findings provide insights to the future development of local brands in
China. Impediments to China’s clothing brand development
China has competitive advantages in terms of production factors such as low
labour costs and growing technology, however, the lack of globally influential
brands is one of the main reasons why China lags behind in the clothing
industry with respect to brand development (Delong et al., 2004). According to
a report published by Business Week (2007), none of the Chinese brands can
enter the 100 Top Brands in 2006 (see Appendix 1) in which Nike was ranked
31, followed by adidas in 71 and the Spain-found clothing company ZARA in 73.
Lim and O’Cass (2001) explain that people in the west tend to have negative
perception towards brands from emerging economies and hence the number
of famous clothing brands in China is limited. Besides, Cui (1997) points out
that customers would only justify a brand through its image as long as they
know little about it. This spells out the need for China to establish its own
brands with good reputation.

China has been connoted with the reputation of low-cost products in the
overseas markets for decades. The originally advantageous factors, however,
become a major hindrance to the global brands’ development process. Schmitt
and Pan (1994) state that Chinese customers could not be able to differentiate
between US and European apparel brands. Also, they often find Hong Kong
and Taiwan brand names confusing. The lack of brand knowledge is probably
attributed to the geographical and political differences. However, such
confusion does not affect the overall perception towards brands in other
countries. They tend to perceive US brands positively as US has a reputation
in technological development and high fashion. When it comes to the case
about the perception of China-produced foreign brands, it is ironic that most
respondents find that they are less authentic, regardless of their quality. The
image of China-produced products needs improvement in this sense.

According to a research reported by Hargrave-Silk (2005, March 25), nearly
two thirds of the companies in China would like to establish their own global
brand. The key motivation for doing so is to build up a global image so as to
enhance the company’s international reputation and it is suggested that quality
is the major determinant for the overseas customers to make their buying
decisions. With such impetus and the concerted effort from the industry
members, the overall image of Chinese brands could become better in the

1.2.2 UK clothing market
The UK is a European country with population of around 60 million, which is 21
times less than that of China (, 2007). Regarding its GDP
growth, because of its mature economic structure, it is pursuing a stable rather
than aggressive GDP growth rate. In addition, the business services and
finance sector are the most important source of gross domestic products,
contributing to nearly 30% of the total domestic products (,
2007). The manufacturing sector, including the clothing industry, pales in
comparison with the development of the business sector and even has a sign
of recession in the recent decades. This can be revealed by the gradual
decline of employment rate within the UK clothing industry (Jones and Hayes,
2004). British spending habits
Spending seems more welcome than saving among the British people.
According to a research conducted by Weekes (2004), just around one-third of
female respondents and less than half of the male respondents express that
they have the saving habits. Among the respondents, females are more likely
to spend on clothes than males, with nearly half of female respondents saying
that they have at least one store card and nearly two-thirds of them own one or
two loyalty cards. This may possibly explain why shopping is a gendered
activity (Dholakia, 1999; South and Spitze, 1994), and occasionally, women
may even shop for men’s clothing (Dholakia, 1999).

Store cards and loyalty cards are common promotional tactics to solicit
consumer’s loyalty. However, the same research shows that store cards may
not be regularly used even though special offers are often given to the
cardholders (Weekes, 2004). This could be explained by the fact that store
cards sometimes have much higher interest rates than that of the credit cards
and personal loans (Mintel, 2002). Characteristics of the UK clothing market
Like most of the developed economy, the UK clothing industry has shifted its
manufacturing section to other countries with low labour costs and skilled
labour, leaving alone the design centre with well-trained designers. Such move
can probably account for the significant drop in employment rate and amount
of output in the clothing sector (Jones, 2003). However, this is found to hinder
the development of British clothing design due to lack of manufacturing
facilities (Dagworthy, as cited in Carruthers, 2004).

As far as the UK fashion retail sector is concerned, there is a trend for own
brand development, concentrated markets, strong competitive activities, a
polarized marketplace, short-life-cycle products, as well as fluctuating
consumer demand (Marciniak and Bruce, 2004; Siddiqui et al., 2003). As
mentioned by Moore (1995), fashion retailers tend to create product
differentiation in which they can distinguish themselves from their potential
competitors in terms of product features like design and price. Although the UK
is overwhelmed with fashion brands, the market is characterized by products
with small differentiation (Birtwhistle and Freathy, 1998; Moore, 1995). In
addition, the retailing sector is fragmented, composing of independent,
family-owed businesses and some large scale chain stores, with the later one
contributing to the largest proportion of market share (Easey, 2001; Marciniak
and Bruce, 2004; Mintel, 2003). Compared with other retailed sector, the
fashion retailing sector is found to incorporate the largest number of
indigenous chains such as Next plc (Marciniak and Bruce, 2004). Such
phenomena have stimulated the emergence of brand name development in
the competitive UK clothing market.

1.3 Theoretical framework
With a well-known brand name, consumers would appear to be more likely to
purchase the products in much higher prices. As far as the same level of
product quality is concerned, consumers would prefer buying brand-name
products (Bello and Holbrook, 1995). This phenomenon spells out the concept
of brand equity.

According to Aaker (1991), brand equity is mainly derived from four elements,
namely brand awareness, brand loyalty, perceived brand equity and brand
associations. The theoretical framework adopted in this dissertation would be
based on the concept of brand equity and the details of each element are to be
discussed and analyzed later in chapter four.

1.4 Objectives of the dissertation
The aim of this dissertation is to investigate the effect of brand image on
consumer purchasing behaviour in clothing, with the comparison between the
Chinese and British consumers. Having found out the relationship between
brand image and consumer purchasing behaviour, marketers and practitioners
could devise strategies to increase the sales revenues.

The clothing sector is particularly chosen in this research. As stated by
Bearden and Etzel (as cited in Hogg et al., 1998), clothing is a kind of public
necessity with weak reference group influence on the product category but
strong reference group influence on the brand choice. In this way, results
obtained from the research on brand image could be more conspicuous.

In addition, Chinese and British consumers are going to be compared in this
research since China and the UK have been targeted by many clothing
retailers due to their enormous customer base. Famous clothing brands like
H&M and ZARA have already obtained their footholds in these two markets
that underlie their significant contribution to these companies (H&M, 2007;
ZARA, 2007). China, being an emerging country with high potential on clothing
brands, is on the lookout for extensions, whereas the UK is a mature market in
which consumers are more experienced in purchasing brand-name clothes.
The results of such comparison would offer meaningful insights for further
brand development in both China and the UK.

Two assumptions are made throughout the dissertation. First, brand image
should have an impact on the consumer buying behaviour of clothing and
second, there are differences in buying behaviour for consumers in China and
the UK.

1.5 Outline of the dissertation
The structure of the dissertation is shown as follows:

Chapter 1 is the introductory section, containing the background information of
China and the UK clothing industry, the research objectives and the
dissertation outline.

Chapter 2 will incorporate the review of previous studies, mainly concentrating
on clothing industry and consumer buying behaviour. It is believed that this
chapter could provide readers with general information like theories and issues
in relation to consumer buying behaviour for clothes so as to make them more
understandable in the forthcoming sections.

Chapter 3 delineates the research methodology, focusing on the description of
research design and justification of data.

Chapter 4 is the core of the dissertation in which research findings are
presented and discussed. Whether brand image would affect the consumer
buying behaviour in the clothing sector is shown and also the similarities and
differences regarding the circumstances in China and the UK are investigated.

Chapter 5 would draw conclusions on the findings from the previous chapters.
Implications towards the business environment and research limitations are
also included. Recommendations would be made with regard to the limitations
so as to provide further directions in the future studies.

Chapter 2
Literature Review

2.1 Introduction
Consumer behaviour refers to the activities in which people acquire, consume
and dispose products and services (Blackwell et al., 2001). Owing to the
proliferation of brands in the recent decades, there is a growing number of
research conducted in the field of consumer buying behaviour. However, most
of them concentrate on a single country study, regardless of the importance of
cross-country comparisons which will inspire innovative ideas for
understanding the fast-changing consumer habits. This dissertation is going to
investigate the differences of British and Chinese in purchasing clothes under
the influence of brand image.

In this chapter, the literatures concerning the roles of brand and brand equity
are to be reviewed so as to provide a theoretical framework for the
aforementioned analysis.

Brand serves a pivotal role for distinguishing goods and services from those of
the competitors (Aaker, 1991; Murphy, 1998). The emergence of brand equity
underlies the importance of brand in marketing tactics and hence provides
useful insights for managers and further research (Keller, 2003).

2.2 The important roles of brand
Brand is a name in every consumer’s mind (Mooij, 1998) and it is
characterized by a noticeable name or symbol which can differentiate the
goods and services from the rivals’ (Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1998). In addition to a
specific brand name, a brand is also composed of products, packaging,
promotion, advertising, as well as its overall presentation (Murphy, 1998).
From the consumers’ perspective, brand is a guarantor of reliability and quality
in consumer products (Roman et al., 2005). Added to this, consumers would
like to buy and use brand-name products with a view to highlight their
personality in different situational contexts (Aaker, 1999; Fennis and Pruyn,

Nowadays, consumers have a wide range of choice to choose from when they
enter a shopping mall. It is found that consumers’ emotions are one of the
major determinants which affect their buying behaviour (Berry, 2000).
According to a research conducted by Freeride Media LLC (1998) on shopping
habits, nearly one-forth of the respondents are likely to impulse-buy clothes
and accessories. When deciding which products to purchase, consumers
would have their preferences, which are developed in accordance with their
perceptions towards the brand. Successful branding could make consumers
aware of the presence of the brand and hence could increase the chance of
buying the company’s products and services (Doyle, 1999).

2.2.1 The characteristics of successful brands
A brand can be an everlasting and lucrative asset as long as it is maintained in
a good manner that can continue satisfying consumers’ needs (Batchelor,
1998; Murphy, 1998). Although successful brands can be totally different in
nature, they share something in common, for instances well-priced products
and consistent quality (Murphy, 1998).

As mentioned by Levitt (1983), there are four elements for building a
successful brand, namely tangible product, basic brand, augmented brand and
potential brand. Tangible product refers to the commodity which meets the
basic needs of the customers. Basic brand, on the other hand, considers the
packaging of the tangible product so as to attract the attention from the
potential customers. The brand can be further augmented with the provision of
credibility, effective after-sales services and the like. Finally and most
importantly, a potential brand is established through engendering customer
preference and loyalty. By doing so, the image of the brand could be well
instilled in the customers’ mind.

2.3 Brand equity
The term ‘brand equity’ refers to a set of assets and liabilities associated with a
brand, including its name and symbol, which could impose beneficial or
detrimental effects on the values arising from the products or services (Aaker,
1991; Yasin et al., 2007). Added to this, Keller (1998) points out that brand
equity signifies the unique marketing effects imposed on the brand.
Concerning the positive side of brand equity, it happens when consumers are
willing to pay more for the same level of quality just because of the
attractiveness of the name attached to the product (Bello and Holbrook, 1995).
However, brand equity could be ruined if it is not properly managed. For
instance, poor product quality and customer services could adversely affect
the brand image, giving rise to a reduction in sales volume.

One of the quintessential examples regarding brand as a kind of equity is the
imposition of laws to protect intellectual property (Murphy, 1998). In countries
with well-established legal system, the values of brands have been recognized
to both the consumers and producers. In order to combat piracy, many
countries have set up laws to protect trade marks, patents, designs as well as
copyright. In addition, brand is also a tradable product with measurable
financial value (Murphy, 1998). It is not uncommon to find some familiar brands
listed on the stock markets in which they could be bought or sold. Brands like
HSBC, Marks and Spencer, Vodafone, Sainsbury and Tesco are all listed on
the FTSE 100 index (London Stock Exchange, 2007). It is found that the
volatility of stock market could affect consumers’ purchasing mood, not to
mention the growth or declines of retail sales (Blackwell, 2002). This is
supported by the fact that brand equity depends on the number of people with
regular purchase (Aaker, 1996).

The above examples highlight the values of brand equity for both consumers
and the firm. For the consumers, brand equity could provide them with
information about the brand which influences their confidence during the
purchasing process. There is a high propensity for consumers with good
perceptions to buy from the same shop again than those with poor perceptions.
Past purchasing experiences and familiarity with the brand could be
attributable to the perceptions generated from the consumers (Aaker, 1991).
As for the firm, brand equity could also be a source for the firm to generate
cash flow. For instance, the merger between adidas and Reebok in 2005 not
only increased their market share so as to compete with Nike in the US sports
apparel market, but also attracted more people to invest in the bigger company
with high potential (Business Week, 2005). Besides, brand equity could also
allow higher margins through premium pricing and reduced reliance upon
promotional activities (Aaker, 1991). Owning to the positive image, consumers
no longer focus on the short-term promotion but the brand on the whole.

Brand equity is a broad concept which can be further subdivided into four main
areas, namely brand loyalty, name awareness, perceived quality and brand
associations (Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1998). These four main areas are to be
discussed in the coming sections.

2.3.1 Brand awareness
Brand awareness is one of major determinants of brand equity. It refers to the
ability of a potential consumer to recall and recognize the brand, linking the
brand with its corresponding product class (Aaker, 1991). The level of brand
awareness lies in a continuum, with brand recognition being the lowest level
and the first named brand with unaided recall being the highest level.

It is important for the potential consumers to be aware of a product so that it
can become one of the purchasing choices. This is due to the fact that the
product needs to enter the awareness set before it comes to the consideration
set (Blackwell et al., 2001) and an increase in brand awareness is conducive to
a higher chance of entering the later set (Nedungadi, 1990). In this way,
brands with higher level of awareness would be more likely to be purchased
(Yasin et al., 2007). This could probably explain why consumers tend to buy a
recognizable brand rather than an unfamiliar one (Hoyer, 1990; Macdonald
and Sharp, 2000).

Several factors can alter the level of brand awareness. In case of China, its
geographical location and politics could affect the consumer brand awareness
level seriously. According to research conducted by Delong et al. (2004),
owing to geographical differences, Chinese consumers cannot distinguish US
apparel brand names from the European ones. In addition, brands from Taiwan
and Hong Kong are sometimes confused, due to their political separations. For
long time, Taiwan would like to become politically independent from China
owing to their different political standpoint whereas Hong Kong, being a special
administrative region since 1997, has once been a colony of the UK.

As mentioned by Keller (1998), brand awareness can be enhanced through
repeat exposure to the brand. In order to achieve brand awareness, two tasks
are to be accomplished, namely increasing brand name identity and
associating it with the product class. Advertising and celebrity endorsement
could be some useful tools for raising brand awareness. It is found that
advertisement attitude is attributable to the influence on brand attitudes,
affecting consumer’s intention to purchase (Mackenzie et al., 1986; Tsai et al.,
2007). In recent decades, there is an increasing number of advertising
campaigns around the world. Consumers are hence well-equipped with
comparative elements to judge which product or service to purchase (Alvarez
and Casielles, 2005). Moreover, celebrity endorsement can give rise to source
credibility and source attractiveness. For source credibility, as pointed out by
McGuire (1978), celebrities can disseminate messages to particular
consumers and hence increase the brand awareness. As for source
attractiveness, successful endorsement can associate the culture of the
celebrity world with the endorsed product (McCracken, 1989). This association
can raise the public awareness towards the brand.

2.3.2 Perceived quality
Another important attribute to brand equity is perceived quality. It is defined as
the customer’s perception of the overall quality or superiority of a product or
service (Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1998; Yasin, 2007). Since it is a kind of intangible,
overall feeling towards a brand, it is subjective in nature and hence the
knowledge of actual detailed product specifications could have little correlation
with the perceived quality. Perceived quality of a brand could help generate
values by providing a pivotal reason-to-buy, differentiating the position of a
brand, charging premium price, motivating channel members to perform well
and also introducing extensions into new brand categories (Aaker, 1991). In
addition, it is found that perceived quality is of utmost importance in
determining brand loyalty as well as repeat purchase (Delong et al., 2004).
Nevertheless, it is becoming more difficult to obtain satisfactory level of
perceived quality owing to the fact that fast and continuous product
advancement has already strengthened consumers’ expectations on product
quality (Sherman, 1992).

Similar to brand awareness, perceived quality is determined by a number of
factors. To be more specific, perceived quality can further be classified into
product quality and service quality. Regarding product quality, there are seven
dimensions which affect the consumers’ perception, namely performance,
features, conformance with specifications, reliability, durability, serviceability as
well as fit and finish. Service quality, on the other hand, is judged by its
corresponding tangibles, reliability, competence, responsiveness and empathy
(Aaker, 1991). In addition to the aforementioned dimensions, the
country-of-origin of a product is found to affect its perceived quality
(Khachaturian and Morganosky, 1990) and also the perceptions towards the
purchased value (Ahmed and d’Astou, 1993). As mentioned by Srikatanyoo
and Gnoth (2002), consumers are inclined to develop stereotypical beliefs
about the products from particular countries. Hence, consumers could have
their preferences for products made from one country over another
(Papadopoulos et al., 1991). Moreover, price is one of the important cues to
evaluate perceived quality (Aaker, 1991). It is found that price is more relevant
in judging the perceived quality of a product given that a person lacks the
ability to evaluate the quality of a product.

2.3.3 Brand loyalty
Brand loyalty is one of the core components of brand equity and also positively
and directly affected brand equity (Atilgan et al., 2005). Under the influence of
brand loyalty, consumers continue to buy the brand, regardless of the superior
features, prices and convenience owned by its competitors (Aaker, 1991). The
more loyal the consumers are towards the brand, the less vulnerable the
customer base would be. Based on the practice that repeat buying is one of
the indicators for brand loyalty, Keller (1998), however, challenges that such
measure may not be totally accurate. This is due to the fact that some
consumers make habitual purchase towards a particular brand just because of
its prominence in stock and effective promotions.

For many companies, having loyal customers is a kind of blessing. Brand
loyalty is regarded as valuable asset under different circumstances. First, it
can help reduce the marketing costs of doing business (Aaker, 1991). Loyal
customers confer to a higher possibility of repeat purchases and it is less
costly to keep customers than to get new ones. Second, loyalty to a brand can
enhance trade leverage. Some consumers with strong affiliation to one brand
would switch to the shop in which a designated brand is sold. Third, loyal
customers could influence the others to purchase the brand. This is typically
true when the product concerned is somewhat risky. In this case, consumers
are assured to buy the product if they have some friends or relatives who
recommend the same model of product. This suggests why word-of-mouth
communication is one of the most powerful tools in the marketplace (Henricks,
1998; Marney, 1995; Silverman, 1997; Bansal and Voyer, 2000). Consumers
usually depend on informal, as well as personal communication sources in
making purchasing decision rather than more formal and organizational
advertising campaigns (Bansal and Voyer, 2000). Finally, brand loyalty can
help provide ample time for the firm to response to competitors’ newly
launched products. Hence, the firm could make good use of the time lapse to
develop more superior products in order to compete with its rivals.

Due to the values obtained from brand loyalty, many firms would devise
different strategies to maintain and enhance the loyalty from customers.
According to Aaker (1991), it is important to treat the customer with respect in
order to keep them loyal. Moreover, customer satisfaction level needs to be
properly managed through conducting consumer research. Customers can
also be rewarded for their loyalty towards the firms so that they will continue to
buy the products. For instance, several airlines like Cathay Pacific, KLM and
chain stores such as TOPMAN provide club-cards or loyalty cards to reward
their customers with discounts and other benefits.

2.3.4 Brand association
The last dimension for brand equity is brand association. It is defined as the
specific linkage between the memory and the brand (Aaker, 1991). Keller
(1998) and Yasin et al. (2007) further note that equity of a brand is largely
supported by consumers’ associations towards the brand, which contribute to
a specific brand image. Brand association is such a complicated concept that
connects to one another, consisting of multiple ideas, episodes, examples, and
facts that create a brand knowledge network (Yoo et al., 2000). In addition to
the tangible products, the intangible qualities, for instances innovativeness and
distinctiveness are also taken into account as brand associations.

Keller (1993, 1998) further divides brand associations into three categories,
namely attributes, benefits and attitudes. Attributes refer to the specific
characteristics a product has. Attributes can be further categorized into
product-related attributes as well as non-product related attributes. For
product-related attributes, the overall features of the product or service are
concerned. As for non-product related attributes, price information, packaging,
user imagery as well as usage imagery are to be considered. Benefits are
another category in brand associations. They can be classified into functional,
experimental and symbolic. Function benefits signify the physical or basic
advantages a brand may have. For experimental benefits, they are related to
consumers’ emotional feelings. Symbolic benefits, on the other hand, refer to
the signal effect that a brand may impose on the consumers. Signal effect is
determined by the image of consumers and also the personality of the brand.
Consumers are attracted by the signal when they purchase a product in a
particular brand. Finally, attitudes are regarded as the consumers’ overall
assessments towards a brand. They incorporate summary evaluations of
information which represent how consumers feel in a long run, lying in a
continuum from positive to negative (Gabbott and Hogg, 1998).

Different brands have different associations to their prospective customers.
Such kind of associations can provide bases for them to make purchase
decisions and even become loyal to the brand (Aaker, 1991). Associations
towards a brand can create value for the firm and so its customers in a number
of ways. First of all, they help the customers to process or retrieve information
(Keller, 1998). Customers are sometimes forgetful and associations towards a
brand serve as a brief summary for the customers to make their purchasing
decision. Associations can also be used to trigger the customers to recall their
past experiences, making the customers remember the brand by heart.
Second, brand associations can differentiate one brand from another. It is
about brand positioning that a well-positioned brand will find it hard to be
attacked by its competitors due to its uniqueness. This can make the brand
unbeatable but it is quite difficult to achieve since consumer taste changes
quite rapidly. Third, brand associations may include some product attributes or
consumer benefits which encourage the consumers to purchase the brand.
Forth, some associations can engender positive feelings. For examples,
adidas slogan ‘Impossible is nothing’, Madonna appearance in H&M’s
collection advertisement can stimulate customers their positive feelings about
the products.

Once brand associations are constructed in a meaningful way, a vivid brand
image is established. Brand image possibly affects how consumers perceive
the brand and hence their purchasing behaviour. There may be products on
the market with similar quality and design, however, the specific brand image
attached on a product may differentiate itself from the others, contributing to its
higher premium price.

2.4 Consumer buying behaviour
Many people do consume a wide range of products every day, from basic
necessities to high-valued collectables. Owing to the proliferation of products
in the market, such phenomenon is one of the most interesting and hence
heavily investigated topics in the marketing field. As mentioned by Schiffman
and Kanuk (2000), consumer behaviour is about how people make their
decisions on personal or household products with the use of their available
resources such as time, money and effort. Gabbott and Hogg (1998) and
Blackwell et al. (2006) further provide a holistic view that defines consumer
behaviour as the activities and the processes in which individuals or groups
choose, buy, use or dispose the products, services, ideas or experiences.

The study of consumer buying behaviour is of utmost importance in a number
of aspects. First of all, consumer behaviour can influence the economic health
of a nation (Blackwell et al., 2006). Consumers would have their preferences in
purchasing products from specific retailers and hence the remaining retailers
are selected using the rule of ‘survival of the fittest’. Therefore, consumers’
decisions can provide a clue for which industry to survive, which companies to
succeed, and also which products to excel. Second, through understanding the
reasons for consumers to buy the products and their buying habits, the firms
can make use of such information to devise corresponding marketing
strategies in response to the consumers’ needs (Blackwell et al., 2006). For
instance, tailor-made products can be made to enhance customer value and
thus facilitate repeat purchase (Gabbott and Hogg, 1998). Moreover, present
consumer behaviour studies regard consumers as important determinants of
organizational success and it is found that the most successful organizations
are customer-centric (Blackwell et al., 2006). The notion ‘the consumer is king’
should be deep-rooted in every business people’s mind that they should try to
please these kings using their innovative methods.

2.4.1 Models of consumer behaviour
Several models are developed with a view to provide explanations for the
consumer buying behaviours. Although they vary in form of presentation, most
of them are composed of stages such as pre-purchase, purchase and
post-purchase (Hoyer and Maclnnis, 2001; Rayport and Jaworski, 2003).

Blackwell et al. (2001) define consumer behaviour as a summation of
acquisition, consumption and disposal of products or services. However,
such definition falls short of the continuity of the processes. Based on this
loophole, Arnoud et al. (2004) further propose the circle of consumption that
recognize purchasing processes as a loop, comprising acquisition of goods
and services, consumption, as well as disposal of used goods.

As far as the consumer decision process model is concerned, consumers need
to go through seven steps before reaching their final decisions. These seven
steps include need recognition, search for information, pre-purchase,
evaluation, purchase, consumption, post-consumption evaluation and
divestment (Blackwell et al., 2006). Rayport and Jaworski (2003) propose a
similar model with slight differences regarding the terms used. Blackwell et al.
(2006) add that most consumer research would primarily base on these seven
stages and how different elements affect each stage of consumers’ decisions,
regardless of the different terms and consolidation of stages.

Stage one is need recognition which occurs when an individual is aware of a
difference between their perception and the actual satisfaction level (Solomon
et al., 2006). The buying process is initiated when people recognize their
unsatisfied need (Levy and Weitz, 1992). There are two kinds of needs,
namely functional needs and psychological needs. Functional needs are
related to the performance of the product whereas psychological needs are
intrinsically obtained when customers feel contented with shopping or owning
a product which they long for.

Stage two is the search of information. The length and depth of search vary for
different customers and depend on variables like personality, social class,
income, size of purchase, past experiences, prior brand perceptions (Moorthy
et al., 1997), as well as customer satisfaction. As mentioned by Solomon et al.
(2006), search of information can further be divided into pre-purchase search
and ongoing search. Pre-purchase search is initiated when consumers
recognize a need and hence look for more information from the marketplace.
Ongoing search, on the other hand, is more likely to be based on personal
interest on a particular brand. Customers pursuing this kind of search would
like to obtain the most updated information about the designated brand.

Stage three comes to the pre-purchase evaluation that consumers compare
between different products and brands to make a purchasing decision. In this
stage, consumers pay particular attention to the attributes which are most
relevant to their needs (Kolter et al., 2005). Attributes like quantity, size, quality
and price are commonly used to judge a brand by customers. Any changes in
these attributes can affect consumer decisions on brand or product choices
(Blackwell et al., 2006). According to Porter (2004), firms can create value by
providing lower price or unique offers to the customers so as to excel their
competitive advantages over the others.

Stage four refers to the purchase decisions made by the consumers after
evaluating the offers from different retailers. As stated by Blackwell et al.
(2006), there are two phases contributing to the decision making processes,
including retailer and in-store selection. Retailer selection is made by judging
which retailers to buy after investigating the attributes from the previous stage
whereas in-store selection is affected by the selling skills of salesperson, visual
displays inside the shops, as well as point-of-purchase advertising. In addition
to in-store purchase, Rayport and Jaworski (2003) further point out the
significant impact of internet on consumer purchasing decision. As pointed out
by Dholakia and Uusitalo (2002), this new kind of non-shop retailing format has
begun replacing the fairly established catalogue and TV shopping and its
development is rapid albeit it is more recently found in comparison with the
existing non-shop retailing modes.

Stage five, stage six and stage seven are under the category of the
post-purchase stage. In stage five, customers begin consuming the products
whereas in stage six, customers evaluate the consumption process. This gives
rise to satisfaction when consumers’ expectations are higher than the
perceived performance and vice versa (Blackwell et al., 2006). Last but not
least, stage seven comes to divestment, in which consumers dispose or
recycle the products and at the same time. The firms need to think about the
possibility of remarketing. This stage is crucial since customers could be
possible to make repeat purchases provided that they are satisfied with the
aforementioned stages (Rayport and Jaworski, 2003).

2.5 Summary
This chapter provides a review about the major research and theories
regarding the consumer purchasing behaviour. Brands are so important that
they are regarded as the equity to a firm. Brand equity can be divided into four
dimensions, including brand awareness, perceived quality, brand loyalty and
brand associations. All of them have significant contribution to the brand as
equity to the firm.

Nowadays, consumers seem to be more aware of the products they buy, and
at the same time, products are developed in an unprecedented way. Only by
understanding the consumer behaviour can the products or brands be
developed in a right way. In this dissertation, whether the brand image would
affect the consumers to purchase clothes is to be investigated. It is hoped that
by finding out the relationships of brand awareness, perceived quality, brand
loyalty and brand association with the consumer purchasing behaviour that will
provide useful insights for the development of the clothing sector.

Chapter 3

3.1 Introduction
With a view to finding out the underlying principles of certain phenomenon,
research is required. In terms of the science of knowledge acquisition,
epistemology is about the science of knowing, whereas methodology is
acknowledged to be the science of finding out (Babbie, 2004). During the
course of consumer behaviour research, data are gathered, recorded and
analyzed in a systematic and objective manner so as to apprehend and
foresee how consumers feel, think and behave (Arnould et al., 2004).

In general, there are two types of research methods, namely qualitative and
quantitative research. Each of them encompasses a variety of approaches,
which are determined on the kinds of data being collected. This chapter aims
at discussing different theories and research methods, as well as justifying the
most suitable approach for the research topic. The details of the sampling
would also be discussed.

3.2 Theoretical backgrounds
In this section, the research traditions, theories, and also the validity and
reliability of data are discussed in order to provide a general view about how
the research is carried out and which factors influence the justification of
research method.

3.2.1 Review of different research traditions
Based on the methodology used, research theories can be classified into
different types. In accordance with Gephart (2004), there are three research
traditions, namely positivism, interpretive research and critical postmodernism.

Positivism makes use of the stance of realism in which the objective reality can
be understood by mirror of science. Added to this, it assumes that a social
world exists externally that should be measured objectively (Easterby-Smith et
al., 2002). In accordance to Fisher (2004), the majority of positivist research
incorporates the comparison of qualitative case studies to analyze if there are
any connections between variables.

While positivism stresses on objectivity, interpretative research focuses on
subjective interpretations to describe meanings and understand reality. Fisher
(2004) notes that the linkage between interpretations are dialogic and hence
interpretive research aims at soliciting people’s accounts of how they find the
world, together with the structures and processes within it.

As for critical postmodernism, it underlines the assumption of symbolic reality,
which is shaped by values and crystallizes over time. Fisher (2004) further
reveals that critical postmodernism is a kind of realism which comprises three
levels of reality, including experiences, events and mechanisms. Experiences
are our perceptions and encounters of the world. Events are concerned about
what has happened in the world by our experiences to them. Finally,
mechanisms are the roots of events which are regarded as the deepest level
among the three.

3.2.2 Quantitative versus qualitative analysis
Generally, research methods can be classified in a dichotomy between
quantitative and qualitative research. As far as the description and explanation
of phenomena are concerned, quantitative research focuses on analyzing
numerical data whereas qualitative research deals with meanings, examining
the attitudes, feelings and motivations of people (Babbie, 2004; Dey, 1993). In
the field of research, qualitative research is sometimes regarded as a relatively
minor methodology than its quantitative counterpart and there are some
assumptions that only experimental data, official statistics, random sampling
and quantified data can lead to valid or generalizable social facts. That is why it
is suggested that qualitative research should be used more often at the early
or exploratory stage of a study (Silverman, 2000). Nevertheless, both of them
are not perfect in a sense that they need to serve as a complement to each
other. As suggested by Easterby-Smith et al. (2002), research needs a
partnership and it could be beneficial to collaborate rather than compete
between the different kinds of research methods.

Both the quantitative research and qualitative research have their own
advantages and disadvantages. Quantitative research surpasses qualitative in
a sense that it can analyze data based on representative samples from a large
population (Proctor, 2000), having a complete set of categorization for the
events or activities described (Silverman, 2000). In this way, quantitative
analysis is stronger than qualitative analysis in that it can persuade readers
with large-scale, numeric data.

As for qualitative research, it is more likely to look into people’s in-depth
feelings, for example, attitude (Kirk and Miller, 1986). Unlike quantitative
research, which uses ad hoc procedures to define and measure variables
(Blumer, 1956; Cicourel, 1964; Silverman, 1975), qualitative research tends to
focus on describing the process of how we define and measure variables in
everyday life (Silverman, 2000). Qualitative analysis, however, suffers from the
problem of ‘anecdotalism’ in which it just narrates some examples of
phenomenon without taking less clear data into account (Silverman, 1989).
Besides, the reliability of tape-recorded and transcribed data is argued by
some to be weakened owing to the possibility of missing some trivial but
crucial pauses and overlaps (Silverman, 2000).

3.2.3 Reliability and validity of data
The reliability and validity of the data and findings are of pivotal importance to
the whole research. These determine whether the research can engender
useful findings or not.

Reliability connotes to the consistency on the research results, which are
judged by different observers or by the same observer on different occasions
(Hammersley, 1992). As pointed out by Davis and Bremner (2006), to justify
reliability, one can replicate the same research to see whether the same
outcomes are obtained on subsequent occasions. While reliability is correlated
to consistency, validity concerns about the truth (Silverman, 2000), giving an
accurate account to the social phenomena (Hammersley, 1992). However, it is
found that having reliable research results is not always attributable to valid
outcomes (Davis and Bremner, 2006).

This dissertation makes use of the qualitative research method and there have
been some discussions on qualitative research regarding its reliability and
validity. As mentioned by Saunders et al. (2003), the findings of qualitative
research are not necessarily repeatable since they reflect reality at the time of
data collection. This may affect the reliability of the research findings. Besides,
the research cannot be claimed valid so long as there are only few exemplary
instances reported, and the original form of the materials is unavailable
(Silverman, 2000). These underlie the importance of ensuring reliable methods
and making valid conclusions in the research process.

3.3 Justification of research method
Different research methods should be adopted based on the nature of
research. This dissertation aims at finding out consumer purchasing behaviour
on clothing in which their beliefs, opinions and attitudes towards brand image
are investigated. Hence, qualitative research is more suitable in terms of
soliciting the consumers’ in-depth responses.

As mentioned by Tesch (1990), there are as much as forty types of qualitative
research in three main orientations, namely language-orientated approach,
descriptive/ interpretative approach, as well as theory-building approach.
Language-oriented approach concerns the use of language and meaning of
words. In descriptive/ interpretative approach, the thorough description and
interpretation of social phenomena are the central focus. Finally,
theory-building approach tries to examine the connections between social
phenomena. Based on the descriptive and interpretive nature in this research,
interviews are chosen as the data collection methods. Qualitative interviews
refer to the interaction between an interviewer and interviewee on a topic
which needs not to follow particular order and words in questioning and
answering (Babbie, 2004). During the course of interviews, interviewers may
need to probe each answer and make use of the replies for further questioning
(Proctor, 2000).

One may argue why interviews but not the other types of qualitative research
methods are chosen in this research. For instance, focus group can also be a
useful kind of research method that brings together some interviewees, say
12-15 people, in a room to engage in a guided discussion on a common topic
(Babbie, 2004). Although focus groups are much more effective and cheaper
than interviews as one may see, researchers may find it difficult to assemble a
large group of people and the control over the interviewees is minimal
(Gamson, 1992). Thus, interviews are more controllable than focus groups in
this regard. Added to this, Breakwell (2006) points out that interviews are
flexible in that they can be used at any stage in the research process, ranging
from the initial stage for identifying areas to more detailed exploration.
However, Proctor (2000) notes that the usefulness of qualitative research
depends heavily on the researchers’ skills. In case of interviews, researchers
should show their ability to ask further in-depth questions based on the
answers obtained.

The structure of interviews lies in a continuum in which fully-structured and
unstructured interviews are the two extreme poles (Breakwell, 2006).
Structured interviews are characterized by their fixed nature and sequence of
questions or the fixed nature of answers allowed. Interviewees may find these
kind of interviews constrained as they are not free to provide information which
is important in their mind. Unlike structured interviews, unstructured interviews
do not have specific formats, leaving more room for the interviewees to
respond. Among different structures of interviews, semi-structured interviews
are chosen in this research. As pointed out by Smith and Osborn (2003), with
the use of a semi-structured format, researchers tend to regard people as
experiential experts on a specific topic under investigation. Such format can
enhance the sensitive and empathic facets of the findings, underlying the
importance human-to-human relationship of interviews (Fontana and Fry,
2000). Moreover, researchers can follow up some unexpected, interesting
responses emerged during the interviews. This can enrich the data collected
from the interviewing process (Smith and Eatough, 2006).

When it comes to the process of data collection, like other self-report methods,
interviews depend on respondents’ accurate and complete responses. This
gives rise to the possibility of unreliable and invalid data. In accordance with
Breakwell (2006), it is important to develop a systematic set of questions and
help the interviewees to understand the questions. These can help solicit
consistent responses and hence the reliability of data can be much enhanced.
Being reliable does not necessarily attribute to validity but it is found that
inconsistent responses may lead to certain inaccuracy (Davis and Bremner,
2006). It is suggested that interviews could be complemented with other types
of data such as observation and diary techniques so that the data obtained can
be more valid. In addition, it is suggested that interviewers be trained for a
specific study if necessary since their manner in questioning could impose an
effect on how reliable and valid the data will be (Proctor, 2000).

3.4 Sampling
As far as the sampling method is concerned, non-probability sampling is used
as the tool for this research. Unlike probability sampling which select samples
randomly in a pool of population, non-probability sampling looks for
participants on purpose (Babbie, 2004). In this research, as comparisons of
British and Chinese buying behaviour for clothes are investigated, 10
Nottingham University students were chosen to have face-to-face interviews.
This is a combination of quota sampling and convenience sampling under the
non-probability sampling classifications. As mentioned by Proctor (2000), in
quota sampling method, researchers deliberately look for participants so that
they are of equal distribution for comparison whereas in convenience sampling,
researchers tend to choose interviewees which are easier to be looked for.

Among the 10 samples, equal proportions of British and Chinese were
interviewed. All of them are students aged between 22 and 28. The male to
female ratio of Chinese and British samples is 1 to 1 (see Table 1 for details). 9
of them are master students and the remaining one is a PhD student. The
criteria for judging whether they are Chinese or British customers are based on
the passports they are holding together with the number of years they have
lived in their home country. They should have lived in China or the UK for long
enough time than in other places that they are regarded as Chinese or British.

Student samples are used in this research because they can enhance
homogeneity and it is much easier to control error during theory testing
(Goldsmith, 2002; Malhotra and King, 2003). Moreover, findings reveal that
homogeneous respondents can help reduce the possibility of measurement
model error (Assael and Keon, 1982). Hence, though a homogeneous sample
has lesser degree of external validity, this can be sacrificed for a greater
degree of internal validity (Carpenter and Fairhurst, 2005).

Table 1: Distribution of samples in terms of gender and nationality
Sample particulars
Chinese British
Gender Male Female Male Female
Number of respondents 2 3 3 2

3.5 Interview schedule
The interview is composed of three stages, which are discussed in the
following sections. There are two types of questions, namely open-ended
questions and closed-ended questions, with the former one being dominant in
the interview (see Appendix 2). Open-ended questions are preferred since
they allow the interviewees to answer as little or as much as they choose,
leaving more room for them to think of the issue (Breakwell, 2006). The
questions may not follow the order as set in the interview schedule as the
respondents will react to them differently. Also, the questions were learnt by
heart before the interviews. As mentioned by Smith and Eatough (2006), it is
better to have mental prompts rather than constantly referring to the interview
questions in the course of the interview.

3.5.1 Stage one
In this stage, the main theme of the interview was introduced with the provision
of general ideas about what the interviewees were expected to answer. The
approximate length of the interview, say 30 minutes, was mentioned. The
issues relating to confidentiality and record permission were already
mentioned at the time when the appointment was made, so they were not
covered here.

After the introduction, the interview began with some general questions
regarding consumer spending habits on clothing. As suggested by Smith and
Eatough (2006), a successful interview incorporates both general and specific
questions which will move between each other fairly seamlessly. Questions 1
to 3 attempt to serve as ice-breaking as the interviewees may not be prepared
to answer in-depth questions at the very beginning of the interview. Moreover,
these can help understand their spending styles.

There are three questions in this stage and they are listed as follows:

1. How often do you buy clothes?

2. How much do you spend on clothing each month?

3. Which categories of clothes do you usually buy?

3.5.2 Stage two
This stage covers in-depth questions about their views to clothing brand image.
Main issues covered in the literatures in chapter 2, including brand and brand
equity, were discussed. In order to explore more information from interviewees’
responses, probing questions were asked if needed. The questions in this
stage are as follows.

Question 4 attempts to find out the criteria of clothes selection in which the
interviewees consider. It also intends to investigate whether brand is an
important criterion for consumers to choose particular products to purchase as
mentioned in the literature (Doyle, 1999; Mooij, 1998). Since this research is
about the effect of brand image on consumer purchasing behaviour, further
probing questions would be asked if the respondents mention something
related to brand and brand equity.

4. What is it about particular clothes that make you buy them?

Questions 5 to 10 are brand equity-related questions. As mentioned in the
literatures, brand equity is regarded as the summation of brand awareness,
perceived quality, brand loyalty and brand association (Aaker, 1991; Keller,
1993). These questions are to find out whether brand equity is as important as
what has been noted in the literatures.

5. In what ways do you usually learn about clothing brands?

6. How do you judge the quality of the clothes?

7. Do you regularly buy the same brand of clothes?

8. Do you recommend brands?

9. Can you describe the image of your favorite brand?

10. Why do you like this brand?

Question 11 asks for the interviewees’ opinions about the new emerging online
shopping mode whereas question 12 is about their post-purchase actions they
took towards the clothes they had purchased. As mentioned in some
consumer behaviour models, there are three stages for purchasing products or
services, including pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase (Blackwell et al.,
2006; Rayport and Jaworski, 2003). After finding out what the interviewees
would do before making their purchasing decisions from the aforementioned
questions, these two questions try to figure out their purchase and
post-purchase behaviour.

11. Do you shop online for clothes?

12. What would you do if you are satisfied or dissatisfied about the clothes you

3.5.3 Stage three
In the last stage of the interview, the interviewees were asked to write a
sentence which starts with the words ‘Brand is’. This serves as a summary of
how interviewees perceive brands by providing their own definitions which may
be similar or different from what is said in the literature. After the interviewees
have finished writing the sentence, they would be thanked for providing their
valuable time to attend the interview.

3.6 Administration
The interviews were conducted in the places such as rooms in the student
accommodations or common areas in the university where the interviewees
felt comfortable to answer the questions. They lasted for approximately 20 to
30 minutes, depending on the interviewees’ familiarity to the questions and
their willingness to provide more fruitful responses. The processes were
recorded with the use of MP3 player with the approval from the interviewees so
as to facilitate the subsequent analysis. The interviews were then transcribed.
The production and the use of transcripts are essential research activities that
they involve close, repeated listening to the records which often reveal some
unnoted recurring features, possibly attributing to important research findings
(Atkinson and Heritage, 1984).

3.7 Analysis strategy
This section introduces the concept of grounded theory and the use of
within-case and cross-case analysis as the strategies for analyzing the
research data.

3.7.1 Grounded theory and its relationship to qualitative data analysis
Grounded theory is one of the important concepts suggesting how researcher
conducts their research. Originated from two socialists Glaser and Strauss
(1967), it attempts to derive theories based on the analysis of patterns, themes,
and common categories from observational data (Babbie, 2004). It focuses on
different ways to code data (Dey, 1993). In addition, based on grounded theory,
methodology skills can be developed in a number of areas such as handling
and analyzing of large volumes of ill-structured, qualitative data as well as
interpretative thematic analysis of the qualitative data. Hence, these could
explain why grounded theory has gained much popularity in recent decades
(Henwood and Pidgeon, 2006). As mentioned by Strauss and Corbin (1990),
researchers could be both scientific and creative at the same time under this
theory, provided that they follow three rules. They include periodically stepping
back and asking, maintaining an attitude of skepticism, as well as following the
research procedures.

Grounded theory does have some impact on the qualitative research.
According to Easterby-Smith et al. (2002), one of the benefits of grounded
analysis is that qualitative research structure has first been derived from the
data, leading to further analysis of themes, patterns and categories. Besides, it
demonstrates some main strategies of qualitative inquiry that contain creative
interplay of theories and methods during the integrated process of social
research (Henwood and Pidgeon, 2006).

The importance of research procedures is heightened in the grounded theory,
especially the use of systemic coding, which can enhance the validity and
reliability of the data (Babbie, 2004). There are seven stages for grounded
analysis in total, including familiarization, reflection, conceptualization,
cataloguing concepts, re-coding, linking and finally re-evaluation
(Easterby-Smith et al., 2002). These imply the seriousness of such theory in
interpreting data and provide the basis for analyzing the ten interviews

3.7.2 Within-case and cross-case analysis
As mentioned by Miles and Huberman (1994), interviews can be analyzed in
two distinctive but interrelated ways, namely within-case and cross-case
analysis. In this dissertation, the interviews conducted were investigated based
on these two approaches. The summary of these two approaches is shown in
Figure 1. Within-case analysis
During the interviews, notes were first jotted down and then the summary of
each individual interview was made after listening to the MP3 recorder for the
sake of keeping the fresh memory of the interview content. A full transcription
of each interview (see Appendix 3) was made after the completion of the whole
interview process. After finishing the transcription, the main ideas of the
interviews were summarized and presented in form of tables with codes like ‘+’
standing for interviewee who has mentioned this idea, whilst ‘-‘ connoting to a
negative response to the question. Some quotes from the answers would be
Within-case analysis
Cross-case analysis
Listening to tape and producing a transcript
Coding the transcript
Analyzing data with tables in codes and quotes
Looking for patterns from similar and different responses
Creating tables based on responses from interviewees
Figure 1: Overview of analysis
illustrated for explanation if necessary. Cross-case analysis
Cross-case analysis aims at looking for convergences and divergences in the
data, recognizing ways to account for the similarities and differences of the
respondents (Smith and Eatough, 2006; Smith and Osborn, 2003). Each
interview was analyzed in the same way as mentioned in the within-case
analysis. Then the patterns emerged were analyzed based the several tables
in different themes.

3.8 Summary
In this chapter, the methodology used in this dissertation has been justified and
explained. Qualitative semi-structured interviews have been chosen as a mean
to collect data since they are found to be more appropriate for soliciting
responses in relation to attitudes, opinions and feelings. Besides, the sampling
method was covered. In the course of data collection, the combination of
convenience and quota sampling was being used. In addition, the schedule of
interview was discussed with a view to providing some general ideas about the
underlying reasons for asking such questions. The data collected would be
analyzed using the methods of within-case and cross-case analysis. The
research findings will be presented and discussed in the next chapter.

Chapter 4
Research Findings and Discussion

4.1 Introduction
This chapter aims at presenting and discussing findings obtained from the
interviews concerning the effect of clothing brand image on consumer
purchasing behaviour. As mentioned in chapter 3, 10 people, including 5
British and 5 Chinese were interviewed. Each interview was recorded and
transcribed for the purpose of analysis in this chapter.

As far as the analysis is concerned, it will be based on the most pertinent
quotes, which reveal the viewpoints from the British and Chinese respondents
respectively. According to Easterby-Smith et al. (2002), qualitative researchers
need to communicate the findings in an honest and systematic manner,
disseminating the richness of the findings and hence the experience of the
researchers. In addition, the analysis should be open to verification as far as
possible so that the others are free to repeat what has been done and check
the conclusions (Breakwell, 2006).

The chapter consists of three sections in which the respondents’ backgrounds,
the effect of brand image on them and also their opinions of brand are
presented and compared.

4.2 Backgrounds of respondents
All respondents are students from the University of Nottingham, with nine of
them being master students and one of them being a PhD student. Their ages
range from 22 to 27 and the male to female ratio is 1 to 1.

The first three questions try to solicit the interviewees’ response about their
clothing spending habits, asking about their shopping frequency, money spent
on clothes and also the types of clothes they purchased. Generally, many
respondents revealed that they buy clothes at a regular interval, ranging from
every week to three or four times a year. One of them was slightly different in
that she indicated that she is an impulsive buyer and hence she would buy
clothes based on her moods and feelings at the time of purchase. This could
probably be explained by the findings mentioned in chapter 2 that consumers’
emotion is one of the determining factors for buying clothes (Berry, 2000).

“I’m a sort of impulsive buyer…’Oh gosh! I really need to buy some clothes
now, let’s go’.”
Narinder, 27, British, Female

Besides, some of them pointed out that their financial status would have an
impact on their frequency of buying clothes. One of the respondents revealed
that he preferred buying clothes at special occasions like seasonal discounts
so that the prices can be much more affordable. These are in line with the
literature that students spend less than the other groups like working class as
far as clothes purchasing is concerned (HKTDC, 2002).

“…This year…not at all (buying clothes). Because I have been poor. But before
that, maybe one item every couple of month.”
Hannah, 24, British, Female

“…Maybe not often recently because I have not got a lot of income for clothes,
so I’ll buy them when I need them…probably, buy every 4 to 5 months, quite
Mark, 23, British, Male

“In China, normally I buy clothes 4 times a year (for each season). In England,
maybe 3 times a year, I will buy clothes if there are discounts.”
Kevin, 23, Chinese, Male
When asking about the price range of clothes, more than half of them were
fond of buying clothes in the medium or high price ranges. Although it is
mentioned in the literature that more females would like shopping than males
(Dholakia, 1999; South and Spitze, 1994), it does not really mean that males
have less spending power. More male than female respondents manifested
that they would buy clothes in medium or above price ranges. One of the male
respondents revealed that he would spend about 50 to 250 pounds for clothes
each time, targeting to buy clothes in medium to high price ranges.

“Probably, it varies anywhere between 50 to 250 pounds. It really gets a large
variation. Sometimes, I buy lots of clothes and it lasts me for half a year…”
Neil, 24, British, Male

The above quotes illustrate that clothes purchasing behaviour varies from time
to time and from person to person. There could be two identical clothes in the
world, however, the reasons why people buy them vary. It could be as simple
as they are cheap and good looking or they are brand-named. As mentioned in
chapter 2, brand names can add tremendous value to the products, retailers,
as well as consumers (Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1993). In the coming section,
whether brand image would affect clothes purchasing behaviour is
investigated, with more emphasis being placed on the comparisons between
British and Chinese consumers so as to provide new insights for further
development of brands in the clothing sector.

4.3 Effect of clothing brand image on consumer buying behaviour

4.3.1 Significance of clothing brands on consumer purchasing decisions
As mentioned previously in chapter 2, brand is important for product
development in that it can be instilled in consumers’ minds (Mooij, 1998) and
hence it could have a beneficial or detrimental effect on customers’ buying
decisions (Yasin et al., 2007). Whether brand is a determining factor is
examined in question 4, in which the respondents were asked about the
reasons of buying particular clothes. The results from both British and Chinese
respondents are illustrated in Tables 2 and 3 accordingly. The columns named
‘country of origin’ and ‘advert’ would be discussed in later sections.

Table 2: Determining factors for clothes purchasing (British respondents)

Table 3: Determining factors for clothes purchasing (Chinese respondents)
Brand Country
of origin
Advert Quality Style Price Others
+ - - + + +
+ + + + + +

+ + + + + +
+ - - + + +

+ - + + + +

+/- or words in black: Initial response without prompt;
+/- or words in blue: Response with prompt

Brand Country
of origin
Advert Quality Style Price Others
- - - + + +
- - - + + +
+ - - + + +
use (Sports)
+ - - + + +

+ - - + + +
As observed from Tables 2 and 3, all respondents from both nations regard
quality, style and price as some of the determining factors for buying clothes. In
this regard, the findings from literature that Chinese find these three as
important criteria for buying clothes (HKTDC, 2002) seem also applicable to
the UK respondents.

When it comes to the effect of brand on buying clothes, nine out of ten
respondents had not provided immediate answer to question 4 regarding this
issue until prompt was given. Moreover, the British and Chinese interviewees
showed some divergent viewpoints.

Some of the UK respondents revealed that they look for brand names in
buying clothes, in which one of them highlighted the importance of past
shopping experiences as mentioned in the literature (Aaker, 1991). However,
two UK interviewees stated that brand names do not initiate them to buy during
their shopping.

“Yes. If I have good experiences with something, I probably buy again.
Because I know it a little bit good quality or that it’s going to be last well or
perform well.”
Neil, 24, British, Male

“Well, I wouldn’t buy something because it’s from H&M or because it’s from
ZARA. They are probably the shops I like. I wouldn’t specifically buy it because
it’s from there.”
Mark, 23, British, Male

“Never. Well, I mean I will buy clothes from a shop. Actually, I bought it (she
points at her top) yesterday from NEXT, but I do not particularly look for brand
Hannah, 24, British, Female
All Chinese respondents found that brand is one of the key factors for them to
consider when buying clothes. One of them mentioned that reputable brands in
medium to high price ranges connote to better quality and cutting. This is
consistent with the literature that brand-named products can be served as a
guarantor of reliability, as well as quality (Roman et al., 2005). In addition, one
of them pointed out that brands can help change her personal style, which is
coherent with the literature that brands are used to highlight personality under
different circumstances (Aaker, 1999; Fennis and Pruyn, 2006).

“I do think most of the brands, like medium- to high-priced brands, do have
better quality than cheaper brands, so I have more faith in those brands for
their clothes. I think they mostly get better cutting and better quality.”
Jovi, 24, Chinese, Female

“Yes. For some T-shirts, I bought some big brands like designer labels. But
recently, I changed my purchasing habits to some cheap stuff like Primark,
H&M and Dorothy Perkins…It’s quick for me to dislike the clothes that I bought.
So, if I buy too many big brands, it costs me too much; if I buy cheap ones, I
can use less money, and buy more clothes to change. It can be in consistent
with my changing look and just lower the cost.”
Vanessa, 26, Chinese, Female

Based on the above findings, it seems that brands are more likely to have an
impact on Chinese than British interviewees. The UK respondents tend to buy
clothes they like but not merely because of the brands.

4.3.2 Brand awareness
As mentioned in the literature, brand can make potential consumers aware of
the products (Aaker, 1991). This issue was examined through asking the
question ‘In what ways do you usually learn about clothing brands?’ There are
mainly four ways for the respondents to learn about the brands, including
advertisement, peers, internet and shops. The results are shown in Tables 4
and 5.

Table 4: Ways to learn about clothing brands (British respondents)
Name Advert Peers Others
- -

- +
From shops
+ +
From shops;
- -
From shops
- +
From shops

Table 5: Ways to learn about clothing brands (Chinese respondents)
Name Advert Peers Others
- +
+ -

+ +
- +
+ +
From shops
+/- or words in black: Initial response without prompt;
+/- or words in blue: Response with prompt

Advertisement is a powerful tool for raising brand awareness (Mackenzie et al.,
1986; Tsai et al., 2007). Some of the UK and Chinese respondents did regard it
as one of the methods to know the brands, with the number of Chinese
respondents outweighing British. Among these respondents, two of them
mentioned that they became more aware of the brands through the celebrities
in the advertisements, which confirms with the literature that celebrity
endorsement can lead to product credibility (McGuire, 1978) and enhance
attractiveness (McCracken, 1989).

“It (Advertising) is important because the brand image is built up so that you
will choose (to buy them).”

“I used to play basketball and so I used to watch NBA games. During the game
break, they (basketball players) will show up. Like Coby Bryrant, he was the
representative of adidas previously…”
Vivian, 23, Chinese, Female

“TV, advertisements in the shopping mall, on the street…they (advertisers) put
posters in the public areas.”
Kevin, 23, Chinese, Male

“I guess it does (have an effect) on subliminal basis. Marketing people may
affect me someway.”

“The adidas ‘impossible is nothing’ advert with leading sportsmen like Michael
Jordan, Lance Armstrong, David Beckham, Zidane (is very
memorable)…because I know them through their sports achievement, you
know, they are familiar faces, so they associate themselves with brands, and
it’s easy to make connections.”
Neil, 24, British, Male

As far as peers influence on clothes purchasing is concerned, similar number
of Chinese and the UK respondents agreed that it does have impact on their
purchasing decisions.

“Maybe they (my friends) buy very nice clothes, and from my mind, they are
nice to put them on. So, when I go shopping next time, I will consider them.”
Kevin, 23, Chinese, Male

“If I am training and I see a friend wearing a new T-shirt or something, I will ask
them what the brand is…my brother bought a Helly Hansen sportswear, that’s
Neil, 24, British, Male

Other sources for raising brand awareness like internet surfing and shop
visiting are also prevalent among Chinese and British respondents. 4 British
interviewees revealed that they became familiar with the brands through shop
visiting, while 4 Chinese interviewees got their brand information via internet

4.3.3 Perceived quality
The issue of perceived quality was investigated through question 6, in which
interviewees were asked, “How do you judge the quality of the clothes?” Their
attitudes towards country-of-origins of clothes were also solicited from the
follow-up questions. The findings are illustrated in Tables 6 and 7.

Table 6: Criteria for judging clothes quality (British respondents)
Materials Style Colour Durability Country of
+ + +

+ -

+ + + -
+ -

Table 7: Criteria for judging clothes quality (Chinese respondents)
Materials Style Colour Durability Country of
+ +

+ + +

+ + + +

+ -

+ + + -

+/- or words in black: Initial response without prompt;
+/- or words in blue: Response with prompt

As shown in Tables 6 and 7, nine out of ten respondents regard materials as
one of the criteria for judging clothes quality, followed by style, colour, durability,
price and performance, in which these criteria are important for consumers in
judging product quality (Aaker, 1991). Most of them could mention these
judging criteria at once. There are no significance differences between British
and Chinese respondents.

Regarding country of origin, 3 Chinese respondents found that it would have
an effect on the clothes perceived quality. Two Chinese interviewees pointed
out that country of origin is correlated with quality. Contradictory to the
literature, country of origin seems not to have an impact to the UK respondents
on perceived quality.

“In some of the countries like Japan, France or Italy, they represent better
Jovi, 24, Chinese, Female

“It should all be good quality if they have a brand name on it because it’s what
the brand name stands for. For buying Puma shoes, I expect Puma quality
basically, so the countries don’t really affect it.”
Michael, 22, British, Male

When further question was asked about the issue ‘Which country’s clothes do
you think they’re of highest/ lowest quality?’ British and Chinese respondents
showed divergent views. The results are listed in Tables 8 and 9.

Table 8: Perception towards countries which produce clothes
with highest and lowest quality (British respondents)

Countries with
highest quality
Countries with
lowest quality
Hannah Smith Italy, France No comment
Mark Morrison Italy, France No comment
Neil Bowley No comment No comment
Narinder Sandhu No comment No comment
Michael Kosciukiewicz No comment No comment

Table 9: Perception towards countries which produce clothes
with highest and lowest quality (Chinese respondents)

Countries with
highest quality
Countries with
lowest quality
Jovi Chong Japan, France, Italy China, India, some South
American countries
Vivian Li UK, US, Italy China, Thailand, Malaysia,
South Africa
Vanessa Fang France, Italy Less developed countries
Alick Wong No comment No comment
Kevin Fang Korea, Denmark China

As shown in Table 8, just a few British respondents try to provide the names of
specific countries.

“I don’t have some preconception about it. Because I know from every country,
you can buy good or bad clothes.”
Neil, 24, British, Male

“They suppose to all be the same. If Puma gets its stuff from China, from
Thailand, they show up the same quality standard in all countries, they should
meet the required quality.”
Michael, 22, British, Male

For those who can tell the names of specific countries, many of them
mentioned that France and Italy can produce clothes in high quality. However,
only Chinese respondents made comments on countries which make clothes
in the lowest quality. 3 of the Chinese respondents could mention that some
less developed countries, including China, produce poor quality clothes. These
findings can be explained by the literatures in that China does not have
influential brands with phenomenal quality (Delong et al., 2004).

“I think the UK and US have top brands, Italy as well. Lowest (quality) maybe
China, or some of the developing countries. Actually, China don’t have very
famous brands, maybe it’s the reason.”
Vivian, 23, Chinese, Female

Nevertheless, one Chinese interviewee specifically pointed out different
countries should have their competitive advantage in either production or
design. This is in line with what has mentioned in the literature that China is
proficient in production and hence many foreign investors would like to
produce their already-designed products there (Cui, 1997).

“China is good at manufacturing and Italy and France are good at design. If it’s
about big brands, I will prefer France or Italy ones; if I consider some basic
ones, I think those made-in-China are something good.”
Vanessa, 26, Chinese, Female

4.3.4 Brand loyalty
The issue regarding brand loyalty was investigated through questions 7, 8 and
12 in which the respondents were asked whether they buy the same brands
regularly and also if they recommend brands to the others. The results are
illustrated in Tables 10 and 11.

Table 10: Clothes purchasing habit (British respondents)
Name Regular buyer Recommend
Club card owner
- - -
+ - -
- + -
+ - -
- - -

Table 11: Clothes purchasing habit (Chinese respondents)
Name Regular buyer Recommend brands Club card owner
+ - +
+ + +
+ + -
- + +
+ - +

As observed from Tables 10 and 11, more Chinese respondents tend to buy
the same brands, recommend brands to friends or relatives, and also hold the
club cards of their favourite stores than the UK interviewees. For those who
buy regularly from the same brands, they pointed out that they are quite
satisfied with the clothes they had purchased, whereas the others think they
need to take other factors like price and style into consideration and hence
they do not buy the same brands regularly. The quotes of regular buyers are
shown as follow:

“I do have a few brands that I prefer, so I will buy them more often. In the UK, I
like Fred Perry. In Hong Kong, there are quite many, for examples, CEU and
Vertical Club. They have quite a lot of varieties of different design for me to
choose from. There are casual wears good for everyday dress and they are of
reasonable prices.”
Jovi, 24, Chinese, Female

“I reckon the design fits me and these brands have high quality which is what
I’m looking for.”
Vivian, 23, Chinese, Female

“I just like it...the certain shops that I sort of rely upon….”
Mark, 23, British, Male

“(I like buying from) Diesel for jeans, Topshop and All Saints. The Diesel jeans
fit me well. Topshop’s price is affordable and also I like the style from All
Narinder, 27, British, Female

As far as brand recommendation is concerned, four respondents cited that
they would recommend brands as long as they are good.

“I will if I visit some shops and they have good stuff. I will tell my friends, say
‘Go ahead! They are really good.’”
Vanessa, 26, Chinese, Female

“If it is excellent performance and if someone asks me, I will tell them.”
Neil, 24, British, Male

Surprisingly, none of the UK respondents have any clothing club cards even
though the shops take this chance to reward their loyalty in terms of discounts
as cited in the literature (Aaker, 1991). Some of them did mention the
drawbacks of applying these cards. The quotes for some non-club card owners
are shown below:

“No, store cards try to get more money from me when I don’t have more. Store
cards are dangerous.”
Narinder, 27, British, Female

“Because we have student cards and we can enjoy the offer, we need not
apply for the loyalty cards. Sometimes, it takes time to apply for it and maybe I
will not spend much money on the same shops…I tried to apply House of
Fraser and M&S (loyalty cards), they always make them like credit cards and I
don’t want to have one more credit card. That’s why I don’t apply for it.”
Vanessa, 26, Chinese, Female

4.3.5 Brand association
Regarding brand association, it is examined through questions 9 and 10 in
which interviewees were asked about their favourite brand images. Both the
British and Chinese respondents managed to recall some positive
connotations of their favourite brands. These findings confirm what has
mentioned in the literature that associated brand images can help enhance the
value of brands (Yasin, 2007).

“I like something that is simple and good for casual and everyday wear, not so
complicated design”
Jovi, 24, Chinese, Female

“I think it’s casual and good quality. The price is acceptable. It’s not stylish but it
is well made. It fits my age and my occupation as students.
Vivian, 23, Chinese, Female

“They do something stylish and good quality…sometimes good offer.”
Vanessa, 26, Chinese, Female

“’Simply Me’, khaki style…quality is good.”
Alick, 27, Chinese, Male

“Simple. For T-shirt, I prefer very colourful image. For shirts, I prefer some
simple image, like grid shirts. For jeans, I prefer blue jeans.”
Kevin, 23, Chinese, Male

“60s hippie, coloured fabrics…it’s a sort of a bit unusual, usually cotton…”
Hannah, 24, British, Female

“It’s just sort of reasonably well-priced and sort of good quality, fits my age.”
Mark, 23, British, Male

“They are practical, they work well, and they look good.”
Neil, 24, British, Male

“For Topshop, it’s a kind of like casual clothing. All Saints is a bit more
Narinder, 27, British, Female

“Basically, alternative sports, not like football, crickets but skiing and
snowboarding and surfing…”
Michael, 22, British, Male

4.3.6 Consumer buying behaviour
It is found in the literature that internet shopping is gaining its popularity among
consumers (Dholakia and Uusitalo, 2002). In order to investigate this issue, the
respondents were asked if they had shopped online for clothes in question 11.
Surprisingly, nine out of ten interviewees expressed that they had not bought
clothes via the internet due to several reasons. One of them mentioned the
poor internet security while the others revealed that they could not try the
clothes before paying for it.

“For clothes, no. Because I can’t try the clothes to see if they are suitable or
Jovi, 24, Chinese, Female

“Not really. I will consider maybe it is not safe to shopping online, not right
colour, right size as well”
Vivian, 23, Chinese, Female

“I like fitting, try on to see if it is fit probably.”
Narinder, 27, British, Female

Even though some of the interviewees do not shop online for clothes, some of
them can point out the positive aspects of internet shopping, including the
varieties of choices, lower prices and informative websites. These signify the
fact that online shopping for clothes is not impossible but something need to be
done to improve it as far as the problems of fitting before purchasing and
online security are concerned.

“No, but I know many people do. To be honest, I am a little bit fat and if I put on
it, I can see how it looks like…so I never buy clothes online. The clothes online
are cheap, just like the clothes from the markets. If you can’t find (suitable
clothes) in the markets or in the shops, you can buy it online.”
Kevin, 23, Chinese, Male

“I don’t buy online. I’ll have a look and compare prices, but I don’t buy online.”
Michael, 22, British, Male
“(Shop online) Sometimes, maybe one or twice a month. It is good. The only
thing is that sometimes the delivery fee is not that cheap, almost everything is
quite good, good quality and good prices. These are what internet offers.”
Vanessa, 26, Chinese, Female

4.4 Results
In the last question, respondents were asked to provide their comments on
brand. The quotes below show their perceptions towards what brand is in their

“Brand is something that adds value to clothing but not a must”
Jovi, 24, Chinese, Female

“Brand is an important but not decisive indicator for my choice of shopping.”
Vivian, 23, Chinese, Female

“Brand is not a paper bag.” (It means brands are not easy to be broken up.)
Vanessa, 26, Chinese, Female

“Brand is something difficult to understand.”
Alick, 27, Chinese, Male

“Brand is just like the name of people. It may not be the spirit of clothes, but it
represents the taste and quality of them.”
Kevin, 23, Chinese, Male

“Brand is a way for people to identify each other, a way for companies to keep
consumers back to spend their money, and I’m not fond of popular ones!”
Hannah, 24, British, Female

“Brand is not something I would follow because of the name. My clothes
purchased tend to be based on the individual garment, rather than the
designer, manufacturer. I realized, however, that a brand can be a powerful
draw for many shoppers.”
Mark, 23, British, Male

“Brand is not unimportant to my decision making when buying clothes.”
Neil, 24, British, Male

“Brand is the label a company use to market/ advertise them with.”
Narinda, 27, British, Female

“Brand is the identity of a product or service.”
Michael, 22, British, Male

4.5 Summary
This chapter presented the findings from the interviews of both British and
Chinese respondents. Some of the responses from interviewees were quoted
and analyzed so as to highlight the important findings for further brand image

At the beginning of the chapter, respondents’ backgrounds were introduced to
provide some thorough understandings on their clothes purchasing habits.
Then it came to the analysis and discussion of interviews’ findings to look for
any similarities and differences between British and Chinese respondents,
mainly focusing on the four dimensions of brand equity.

Chapter 5

5.1 Introduction
Based on the research findings in chapter 4, this chapter draws conclusions on
what has been analyzed and discussed, providing insights for comprehending
consumer purchasing behaviour and further investigations. The comparisons
were made between the British and Chinese respondents’ purchasing
behaviour throughout the last chapter. It was found that there are slight
differences between the Chinese and British consumers in terms of their
attitudes towards brand equity.

This chapter will provide an overview of the research findings, with the
inclusions of similarities and differences between the British and Chinese
consumers. It is then followed by the research limitations and
recommendations for further research.

5.2 Conclusions
The findings in chapter 4 do have some implications for the development of
brand image. They are presented under each sub-section as shown below.

5.2.1 Significance of clothing brands on consumer purchasing decisions
The determining factors for clothes purchasing have been examined. Our
findings suggested that all British and Chinese respondents regard quality,
style and price as their most important criteria for choosing clothes. In addition,
brand is one of their considerations. However, more Chinese than UK
respondents expressed that brand is important for them to choose particular
clothes to buy. For those British respondents who did not look for brands when
purchasing clothes, they cited that what they liked is more important.

As revealed from the above findings, brand can have a value-adding function
in that some respondents are fond of particular brands. Nevertheless,
consumers think of the other criteria as well. That is to say, if brand-named
clothes can incorporate the other criteria the consumers are looking for, it
could enhance the chance for consumers to buy the clothes.

5.2.2 Brand awareness
To increase the publicity, the brands need to become more aware among the
consumers. From the findings, respondents tend to know the brands through
advertisements, peers, internet and shops. More Chinese respondents
expressed that they had been influenced by advertisements and internet than
British interviewees, whereas British respondents tended to know the brands
through on-the-spot purchase in the shops. In terms of advertisements, some
respondents from both nations cited that they had been affected by celebrity
advertising in which they could associate the brand image with the celebrities’
images, for example, famous sportsmen can be attributable to good
sportswear performance.

In general, these methods for spreading the brand image are commonly
employed by both British and Chinese respondents.

5.2.3 Perceived quality
The findings suggested that most respondents tend to judge the clothes quality
by looking at the materials, followed by style, colour, durability, price and
performance. There are no significant differences between British and Chinese
respondents regarding these issues. However, when it comes to the country of
origin of clothes, none of the UK respondents thought it would affect their
perception of clothes quality whereas some Chinese respondents had cited
that some countries connoted to better quality.

In addition, many Chinese respondents had the preconception that China and
other developing countries produce clothes in poor quality, whereas they did
think that clothes from Italy and France normally confer to better quality.
However, the British respondents did not have strong feelings about where the
clothes come from. This brings out an important issue that Chinese brands
should get rid of their poor image on perceived quality at least to the Chinese
themselves. China does not have influential global clothing brands (Delong et
al., 2004), however, it is good at manufacturing (Cui, 1997). As brand can
provide guarantee of quality to consumers, by working on the brand
development, there would still be chances for China to produce well-perceived
quality clothes.

5.2.4 Brand loyalty
This aspect of brand equity is important for the development of customer base
and encouraging repeat purchase. From the findings, some respondents did
reveal that they are frequent buyers of the same brands and also recommend
brands to their friends and relatives, regardless of the nations the respondents
belong to. However, none of the UK respondents cited that they had had some
loyalty cards from clothing shops, while most of the Chinese respondents had.

Such discrepancies may be because the UK respondents tend to buy clothes
from more independent stores which are less likely to offer loyalty cards.

5.2.5 Brand association
The association between brand and memory of respondents was investigated.
All respondents could recall some positive aspects of their favourite brands at
once. Some characteristics of the brands in which they are fond of were
mentioned, including the product features, styles, prices, functions etc. This
coincides with the findings by Keller (1993) that consumers are attracted by
the signal when they consider buying particular product. Also, such
perceptions may be attributable to their loyalty towards the brands (Aaker,
The establishment of such positive images can help enhance the brand values
and there are no significant differences between the British and Chinese
respondents in this regard.

5.2.6 Consumer buying behaviour
Consumers can shop for clothes via different channels, and whether online
shopping for clothes is popular among the respondents from both nations was
examined. Most of the interviewees expressed that they had not bought
clothes through the internet. One of the obstacles for online clothes purchasing
is that the consumers can not try on the clothes to see if they are fit or not.
Added to this, online security is also a matter of concern. However, some
respondents cited that online shopping is good for its informative websites,
various choices and cheaper prices.

Internet shopping is gaining its popularity (Dholakia and Uusitalo, 2002) but the
findings suggested that buying clothes online was not that common among the
respondents. In order to make it more prevalent for clothes shopping,
something should be done on the aforementioned drawbacks. In terms of
fitting, the details of the size and materials should be listed on the website to
reduce the chances of buying wrong clothes. For online securities, the retailers
should be more vigilant in the design of verification system, whereas the
shoppers need to be aware of the login procedures, not to divulge personal
information to unknown third parties.

5.3 Limitations
During the course of research, several limitations were found to hinder the
overall accuracy of the findings. There are three limitations regarding the
sampling method, time and also interpreting skills.

As far as sampling method is concerned, qualitative research can not provide
representative samples from the target population even though they can detect
minor problems that are not obvious in a quantitative study (Proctor, 2000).
Students were used as the subjects for investigation and they tend to be more
susceptible to the views, ideas and products of other cultures than older
people (Netemeyer et al., 1991), having a propensity of getting deviated
results. In selecting the students, the combination of quota and convenience
samples was used. Such discretion of choosing samples may introduce a
source of bias since there is a possibility to omit some types of people,
especially for those who are difficult to contact (Proctor, 2000).

In terms of time, since in-depth interviews were chosen to be the method of
data collection, the number of samples interviewed is limited. The dissertation
was confined to finish within the summer term which lasted for 3 months. As
long as more time is allowed, more samples could be gathered so that it could
enhance the overall conclusiveness of the interviews.

Finally, the responses from the in-depth interviews can be subjected to
researcher’s effects. During the interviews, the characteristics of the
interviewers, for instances accent, gender and age, will have an effect on the
interviewees’ willingness to participate and their nature of answers. In addition,
interviewers’ questioning skill is also one of the determinants for answer
accuracy. Interviewers may ask leading questions that distort respondents’
answers (Levy and Weitz, 1992) and data obtained are influenced by the
interviewers’ manner, including the skills of handling follow-up and probing
questions (Proctor, 2000). This is the author’s second time to do the
dissertation and the aspects like nervousness and lack of experiences can
also be regarded as some of the limitations for this dissertation.

5.4 Implications
This dissertation attempts to find out the effect of brand image on consumer
purchasing behaviour. There are numerous brands around the world, however,
whether the brand is influential or not depends on how it is perceived.
Therefore, the study of brand can provide an insight for further brand

Under the premise that brand is regarded as equity for marketers, four different
areas were investigated, namely brand awareness, perceived quality, brand
loyalty and brand association. Through understanding how customers behave
in these four aspects, marketers can think of relevant strategies. In terms of
brand awareness, owing to the fact that consumers will buy clothes after they
have known them well, marketers should make use good of the traditional
channels like advertisements and word-of-mouth and devise new methods to
communicate with customers. As far as perceived quality is concerned, having
mentioned that customers judge the quality mostly based on the factors like
materials, style, colour, durability, price and performance, manufacturers
together with retailers need to join hands to produce better clothes for the
customers to choose from. In addition, the investment in brand loyalty could
enhance the chance of repeat purchase and broaden the customer base. To
reward loyal customers, marketers can devise different reward methods in
different forms such as discounts. As for brand association, it is of utmost
importance to keep the customers’ positive perceptions towards the brands so
that the chances for repeat purchase would be increased. Such positive
connotations are achieved through working closely on brand awareness,
perceived quality and brand loyalty.

This dissertation highlights the comparisons between British and Chinese,
aiming at finding out their similarities and differences in the consumer
purchasing behaviour on clothes. From the findings, some Chinese
respondents have negative perceptions towards clothes quality produced from
China and other developing countries whereas their British counterparts do not
have such strong feelings. This provides an important insight that Chinese
customers should get rid of their negative perceptions towards the clothes
quality. Chinese brand developers should put more efforts on quality control
with a view to establish some strong national clothing brands among
themselves. This may change the buying attitude that Chinese are now
confined to buy luxury clothes produced in the foreign markets (HKTDC, 2002).
It is hoped that Chinese can have some influential global clothing brands by
doing so.

For the UK, since famous clothing brands are not uncommon in such
developed country, it should be more aware of the marketing strategies to
enhance the overall brand equity. For instances, it could think of making online
clothes purchasing more popular and also introducing varieties of benefits to
reward loyal customers. The use of club cards was found to be more common
among Chinese than the UK respondents for buying clothes. Marketers could
consider the feasibility of getting this idea widespread in the clothes retailing
industry as other retail sectors, like supermarkets, have done.

5.5 Recommendations for further research
Although the findings from this research are interesting and useful as one may
think, there are several limitations as mentioned in the previous section. It is
important to make improvement in the further research to provide more fruitful
and representative findings.

More samples should be interviewed as long as time and money are not
constraints. More interviewers could be hired and trained to collect as much
data as they can. This could provide much more conclusive results. Besides, in
addition to semi-structured interviews, other kinds of research methods such
as focus group and even some quantitative research methods could be used
so as to provide findings from different perspectives.

Further research could also be done on comparisons between some other
countries’ consumers in which they are found to have significant impact on
consumer behaviour. Other sampling groups, for instance working class, could
also be investigated since they may provide entirely different results as what
have been obtained from the student samples.

By taking the above recommendations, researchers could be able to get more
representative and deeper findings from different perspectives, exploring the
research to a higher stratum as far as brand development is concerned.


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Appendix 1: The 100 Top Brands 2006
Rank Name Country Rank Name Country
1 Coca-Cola U.S. 51 Nintendo Japan
2 Microsoft U.S. 52 Gap U.S.
3 IBM U.S. 53 L’Oreal France
4 GE U.S. 54 Heinz U.S.
5 Intel U.S. 55 Yahoo! U.S.
6 Nokia Finland 56 Volkswagen Germany
7 Toyota Japan 57 Xerox U.S.
8 Disney U.S. 58 Colgate U.S.
9 McDonald U.S. 59 Wrigley U.S.
10 Mercedes-Benz Germany 60 KFC U.S.
11 Citi U.S. 61 Chanel France
12 Marlboro U.S. 62 Avon U.S.
13 Hewlett-Packard U.S. 63 Nestle Switzerland
14 American Express U.S. 64 Kleenex U.S.
15 BMW Germany 65 U.S.
16 Gillette U.S. 66 Pizza Hut U.S.
17 Louis Vuitton France 67 Danone France
18 Cisco U.S. 68 Caterpillar U.S.
19 Honda Japan 69 Motorola U.S.
20 Samsung S.Korea 70 Kodak U.S.
21 Merrill Lynch U.S. 71 adidas Germany
22 Pepsi U.S. 72 Rolex Switzerland
23 Nescafe Switzerland 73 Zara Spain
24 Google U.S. 74 Audi Germany
25 Dell U.S. 75 Hyundai S.Korea
26 Sony Japan 76 BP Britain
27 Budweiser U.S. 77 Panasonic Japan
28 HSBC Britain 78 Reuters Britain
29 Oracle U.S. 79 Kraft U.S.
30 Ford U.S. 80 Porsche Germany
31 Nike U.S. 81 Hermes France
32 UPS U.S. 82 Tiffany & Co. U.S.
33 JPMorgan U.S. 83 Hennessy France
34 SAP Germany 84 Duracell U.S.
35 Canon Japan 85 ING Netherlands
36 Morgan Stanley U.S. 86 Cartier France
37 Goldman Sachs U.S. 87 Moet & Chandon France
38 Pfizer U.S. 88 Johnson & Johnson U.S.
39 Apple U.S. 89 Shell Britain
40 Kellogg U.S. 90 Nissen Japan
41 Ikea Sweden 91 Starbucks U.S.
42 UBS Switzerland 92 Lexus Japan
43 Novartis Switzerland 93 Smirnoff Britain
44 Siemens Germany 94 LG S.Korea
45 Harley-Davidson U.S. 95 Bulgari Italy
46 Gucci Italy 96 Prada Italy
47 eBay U.S. 97 Armani Italy
48 Philips Netherlands 98 Burberry Britain
49 Accenture Bermuda 99 Nivea Germany
50 MTV U.S. 100 Levi U.S.
(Data adopted from Business Week (2007))
Appendix 2: Interview Questions

Name: Age:
Course: Year of study:
Nationality: Year of living in
your home country:

1. How often do you buy clothes?

2. How much do you spend on clothing each month?

3. Which categories of clothes do you usually buy?

4. What is it about particular clothes that make you buy them?

5. In what ways do you usually learn about clothing brands?

6. How do you judge the quality of the clothes?

7. Do you regularly buy the same brand of clothes?

8. Do you recommend brands?

9. Can you describe the image of your favorite brand?

10. Why do you like this brand?

11. Do you shop online for clothes?

12. What would you do if you are satisfied or dissatisfied about the clothes you

13. Can you comment on what brand is to you?

(Note: Further probing questions would be asked after each of the above
question if necessary)

Appendix 3: Interview Transcription

Name: Kevin Fang
Age: 23
Gender: Male
Nationality: Chinese

Chris: Hi, Kevin. I would like to ask you about your purchasing behaviour on
clothes. It would talk about 30 minutes. How often do you buy clothes?

Kevin: In China, normally I buy clothes 4 times a year (for each season). In
England, maybe 3 times a year, I will buy clothes if there are discounts.

Chris: So you buy clothes less frequently in the UK.

Kevin: Yes.

Chris: Why?

Kevin: Because in China, I had a girlfriend who likes shopping. I was the

Chris: How much do you spend on clothing each month? In case of China and
also the UK?

Kevin: In China, around 20 to 30 pounds each time. Summer clothes are
cheaper than winter clothes, so in winter, it would be like 40 to 50 pounds. In
England, since clothes are more expensive than those in China, so normally I
spent 30 pounds more or less each time when I went shopping.

Chris: Which categories of clothes do you usually buy? I mean high-priced,
medium-priced or low-priced?

Kevin: Medium-priced. I don’t buy very cheap clothes. I prefer higher quality,
good taste, so these clothes are more expensive.

Chris: What about the kinds of clothes you buy? Sports apparel, casual wear,
formal wear or others?

Kevin: The first two. I buy casual wear more frequently than sports apparels.
Sports apparels are just for doing some exercises, and I won’t wear sports
apparels on streets. But I buy trainers.

Chris: You really seldom buy formal wear.

Kevin: There are not many chances for me to wear. I have one, just one.

Chris: What is it about particular clothes that make you buy them?

Kevin: I prefer quality as I said, and good taste…I prefer some grand
clothes…I like Jack and Jones, and Levi’s. For shoes, I like adidas and

Chris: You have mentioned something about price before, so do you think
price is one of your considerations?

Kevin: Yes of course. My girlfriend likes to go to some markets where she can
find many cheap clothes. Some of them are on discount and some of them are
out of season, she is pursuing that kind of clothes.

Chris: What about you?

Kevin: I like buying shoes in a very good ground. I don’t like bargain with the
prices. Some clothes have the absolute prices.

Chris: So when you went to the market with your girlfriend, did you buy them?
Because normally we need to bargain in the market.

Kevin: If you go to some small shops, these clothes do not have ground, you
can bargain with the shop assistants. But in some shopping malls, some
clothes have ground, you cannot bargain with them. Because they are of fixed
prices and the quality is good.

Chris: Which one do you prefer? Shops or Market?

Kevin: Shops.

Chris: What about brand?

Kevin: Yea, Jack and Jones.

Chris: What about country of origin?

Kevin: Um…I’m not sure which countries these clothes come from because
some are made in China, maybe the designers are from other countries. Most
of them I think they are from Europe.

Chris: So you have no special preferences?

Kevin: No.

Chris: If I divide the question into 2, maybe do you have any preference for the
country of manufacture?
Kevin: As I said, most of them are made in China.

Chris: What about the country of design?

Kevin: Europe.

Chris: Do you have special preferences for the clothes made in Europe?

Kevin: Actually, we can’t find the clothes made in Europe, but in China.

Chris: What about advertising?

Kevin: Advertising is important. Sometimes, I go shopping for clothes just up
to the advertising…and maybe there are reputations.

Chris: Do you have any advertisement series come to your mind?

Kevin: Levi’s…their advertisement for jeans is very impressive…so are the
one from Jack and Jones.

Chris: What is the advertisement about? For Levi’s, why can it make you so

Kevin: Because people who wear the clothes look very nice, look very
handsome with the clothes.

Chris: You mentioned some people appearing in this advertisement. Are these
people celebrities?

Kevin: No, just models. Some of them are Chinese and some of them are
Chris: If some advertisements feature the celebrities, would it have an impact
on you to buy the clothes?

Kevin: Yes, it will, but the prices for these kinds of clothes are high, I can’t
afford it.

Chris: In what way do you usually learn about clothing brands?

Kevin: TV, advertisements in the shopping mall, on the streets, they put
posters in the public areas.

Chris: What about peer influence? Do you know some brands from your

Kevin: Yes, of course.

Chris: Do you talk about buying clothes with your friends frequently?

Kevin: No, not frequently.

Chris: But you maybe affected by them. How can they affect you?

Kevin: Maybe they buy very nice clothes, and from my mind, from my
perspective, they are nice to put them on, so maybe next time I go shopping, I
will consider them.

Chris: How do you judge the quality of clothes?

Kevin: It depends. For summer clothes, I only wear them for one to two year.
For winter clothes, it may be longer. So it needs to keep the quality for that
Chris: So if it’s durable, then it’s of high quality.

Kevin: As long as it can, you know, keep the quality until out-of-date, I think
their quality is good.

Chris: Any others to judge the quality?

Kevin: Colour…the feeling…whether or not it becomes fade after washing it.

Chris: So you judge the quality in terms of durability, by the colour, by the
feeling of texture and whether it will fade or not. Would country of origin affect
your perceptions towards clothes quality?

Kevin: As I said most of them are made in China, some brands have their own
manufacturing (plants) in China, these clothes are from very good brands and
they quality is conceivable.

Chris: Do you have some ideas that which countries’ clothes you think they
are of highest or lowest quality?

Kevin: Korea (for E-land), and Demank (Jack and Jones).

Chris: So you think these two countries produce the highest quality clothes?

Kevin: I consider brands more than the countries. I never compare which
clothes come from which countries.

Chris: What about lowest quality?

Kevin: China…maybe.

Chris: Why do you have such feelings?

Kevin: I think quality goes high as prices go high.

Chris: You mean China usually sells cheap clothes?

Kevin: Yea, maybe cheaper than from other countries.

Chris: So you believe quality goes with prices?

Kevin: Actually for young people, we may buy some sport apparels like LiNing,
but for casual wear, we prefer clothes from other countries.

Chris: So you mean maybe China has some famous brands in sport apparels,
but it doesn’t have any brands in casual wear category.

Kevin: No, not many.

Chris: Do you regularly buy the same brand of clothes?

Kevin: Every time I go shopping, I will go to those places…not E-land, I only
bought E-land once… I also buy clothes from Kuhle, it just likes Jack and
Jones, famous among young people.

Chris: So because of the quality and the appearance, you go to that shop
again to buy clothes?

Kevin: Ah, I think quality is not a problem for these brands, the appearance is
more important…the quality, of course, it’s high

Chris: Do you recommend brands to your friends or someone else?
Kevin: No.

Chris: Why not?

Kevin: I think every one has their own place, if I recommend my preference to
him or her, maybe they will ignore it, maybe they will keep in mind, I don’t

Chris: Can you describe the image of your favorite brand?

Kevin: I prefer very simple image. For T-shirt, I prefer very colorful image. For
shirts, I prefer some simple image, like grid shirts. For jeans, I prefer blue

Chris: So you mentioned something about colour and simplicity, how does
such image come from?

Kevin: I think its appearance. After I put it on, if it is fit to me, I will buy it.

Chris: Does such image come from advertising and packaging?

Kevin: Yea, advertising is the first impression and packaging is on-the-spot

Chris: Do you shop online for clothes?

Kevin: No, but I know many people do. To be honest, I am a little bit fat and if I
put on it, I can see how it looks like. I know many girls do that. Maybe girls can
find more suitable size than guys do. So, I never buy clothes online. The
clothes online are cheap, like the clothes from the markets. If you can’t find in
the market or in the shops, you can buy it online.
Chris: So, it maybe the advantage of buying clothes online.

Kevin: Yea, that’s the main advantage. You can find some clothes which you
can’t buy in the shops or markets, maybe they are there.

Chris: What are the bad things of buying clothes online?

Kevin: As I said, the size may not fit and the quality as well…

Chris: What would you do if you are satisfied or dissatisfied about the clothes
you purchased?

Kevin: If I am satisfied with the clothes I bought, I will wear it very regularly, at
least once a week. But if I’m not satisfied with it, of course I will wear it, but less
frequently, maybe take it as my pajamas.

Chris: If you are satisfied, would you go to the same shops to have a look

Kevin: Maybe I will go there next season when I go shopping. As long as l
finish shopping, I will not go to the see any clothes within a short interval,
maybe after one or two month, I will go there again to see some new
clothes…new arrival…But I will not go to the same shops very frequently, just
after finish shopping.

Chris: If the shops do offer you some loyalty cards, would you apply for it?

Kevin: Yea, I have one from Kuhle and one from Jack and Jones. Normally, if I
buy clothes more than 40 or 50 pounds once, they will give me a VIP card. So
next time I go to these shops to buy clothes, they will give me 5 to 10 percent
discount or some credits. I can get some gifts from the accumulated credits,
like some accessories, belts, glasses, sunglasses, wallet, something like that.

Chris: That’s all for the interview. Thanks very much. I would like you to help
me finish a sentence starting with ‘Brand is’.

Chris: So you said ‘Brand is just like the name of people. It may not the spirit
of the clothes, but it represents the taste and quality of them.

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