Influence of Self-Perception and Self-Image on Consumers Choice of Luxury Fashion Brands Dissertation

Pages: 51 (13276 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 30  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Business - Advertising

¶ … price remains one of the most important factors that many consumers take into account in formulating their purchase decision, it is important for marketers to segment their target market accordingly. For luxury brands, this means that higher prices must be justified by the consumers' perception of higher quality or more nebulous factors such as brand association. The primary of the proposed study is to examine the influence that self-perception and self-image have on the consumer in their choice of luxury fashion brands. To achieve this research purpose, the study proposed herein will be guided by five main aims: (a) to test and examine the hypothesis stated above for its validity; (b) if the hypothesis holds true, to measure how strong of an influence self-perception and self-image have on the consumer in their choice of luxury fashion brands; (c) alternatively to show that the hypothesis is false; (d) to define self-perception and self-image; and (e) to evaluate the concept of a 'luxury' fashion brand. The proposed study will use a mixed methodology consisting of focus groups, face-to-face interview and a custom questionnaire based on the main themes that emerge. A summary of the research, salient findings and recommendations will be provided in the concluding chapter.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

Statement of the Problem

Purpose of Study

Importance of Study

Rationale of Study

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Overview of Study

Chapter 2: Review of Related Literature

Chapter 3: Methodology

Description of the Study Approach

Data-gathering Method and Database of Study

Chapter 4: Data Analysis

Chapter 5: Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations


Dissertation on Influence of Self-Perception and Self-Image on Consumers Choice of Luxury Fashion Brands Assignment

Products can no longer be sold on product features and innovation; they must differentiate themselves by tapping into the emotional needs and benefits people are looking for. One research study by an advertising agency determined that consumers were more likely to find brand differences in categories that rely on emotional appeals rather than rational. -- Lynn R. Kahle and Larry Chiagouris, 1997, p. 237

Chapter 1: Introduction

Statement of the Problem

The epigraph above emphasizes that the need for fine-tuned, effective marketing strategies has never been greater, especially when it comes to knowing which customers prefer certain brands and why. For example, according to Michman, Mazze and Greco, "In today's competitive economic environment, knowing your customer has never been more important" (2003: 30). Some of the ways marketers to match brand with customer type is through positioning and pricing. As Michman and his associates put it, "Positioning strategy is linked to lifestyle market segmentation. Positioning is the process of distinguishing a company or product from competitors along such dimensions as product characteristics or values that are meaningful to consumers. For example, Dior is positioned as a French designer" (2003: 32). Likewise, Parsa and Naipaul report that, "Psychological pricing is the practice of structuring and presenting prices to appeal to consumers' emotions and to influence their decision-making processes" (2007: 7).

Not surprisingly, luxury brands in particular try to distinguish themselves from their lower-priced competitors by emphasizing those attributes of their product (or service) that may be most appealing to their targeted market -- including a higher price -- provided that there are a sufficient number of attributes to justify the price differential, a marketing technique that is hundreds of years old. For example, Twitchell reports that, "In the sixteenth century, for the first time objects could be produced in collectible quantities so that a new class of recently affluent men could collect, sequester, and then show them off" (1999: 183). The significance of these origins of luxury can even be seen today. In this regard, Twitchell adds that, "We still know the names of the luxury brands of the Renaissance -- Giotto, da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo -- because they are still the premier luxury brands lusted after by the super rich. We call them by a special name -- art -- but they really are also the forerunners of display brands" (1999: 183).

Although a number of more modern luxury brands have emerged from these early forerunners, the fundamental human nature issues that are involved with the desire by certain people to own them have remained essentially the same. In this regard, Twitchell notes that, "We are little different from our early-modern ancestors. Clearly, this desire is not really connected to materialism, but to human yearning. The market for luxury goods, begun in sixteenth-century Italy, has encompassed the world" (1999: 183).

Based on research conducted by the McKinsey Corporation that studies luxury consumption, recent trends indicate that over the past two decades alone, the market for luxury goods has increased to an estimated $70 billion annually and the demand is now global in scope (Twitchell 1999). This growth is due in some part at least to how luxury brands position themselves in terms of the powerful meanings that are associated with them. According to this authority, "The dominant paradox for this explosion of luxury brands is not that human beings are crass, it is that they are idealistic. They don't want things, they want meaning. Luxury brands carry meaning very efficiently. That is part of why they cost more" (Twitchell 1999: 183). This observation indicates that a positioning strategy that targets more affluent consumers will not try to hide the higher prices of these goods, but will rather emphasize them. In this regard Michman et al. conclude that, "Positioning strategy aids customers in evaluating product attributes that are of significance or value to them. Mitsubishi, for example, has positioned its vehicles as more attractively styled than competing makes" (32). This means that, ceteris paribus, for some consumers, higher prices equate to higher quality and a superior value.

This all sounds well and good, of course, but formulating effective positioning strategies in a dynamic environment can be a challenging enterprise and this is certainly the case with many luxury brands that have to continually redefine themselves in terms of what they perceive their customers want. In this regard, Kahle and Chiagouris emphasize that, "Today's luxury market is in a situation of constant and at times radical change. The rapid and continuing evolution of consumer attitude and behavior patterns is paralleled by an ongoing restructuring and concentration among producers" (1997: 355). The dynamic condition of the luxury market makes formulating effective marketing regimens particularly challenging. For example, Kahle and Chiagouris add that, "In fact, if there is any common denominator in the luxury markets across countries, it is the growing internal diversity of consumer tastes and habits. This leads to market fragmentation, a loss of economies of scale, and a splintering of brand identity within any particular country" (1997: 355).

For multinational firms, this is an especially salient point because even though luxury brands may not be able to use a universal marketing message, they will still need to determine a sufficient amount of commonalities among consumers in different countries to position their products appropriately. As Kahle and Chiagouris stress, "Such market conditions make it imperative to identify transnational targets that share enough common traits to allow for a similar positioning in different countries" (1997: 355). Unfortunately, there remains a glaring lack of research concerning the influence of self-perception and self-image on consumers' choice of luxury fashion brands. In this regard, Kahle and Chiagouris emphasize that the "fashion and apparel [is] an image industry that does not rely on research. Research often means tracking what sells and what doesn't" (1997: 237). This pragmatic approach is clearly more straightforward than some other methods that are used by luxury brand marketers, but this has not daunted the search for even more fine-tuned information concerning this market (Kahle & Chiagouris 1997).

This fine-tuning is important because of the higher prices commanded by luxury brands that must be justifiable in some way when the consumer makes a purchase decision. The vagaries between luxury brands and less expensive but potentially equal quality brands is highlighted by the observation of Twitchell that, "Often this meaning seems hopelessly recondite to someone out of the culture. If you were a visitor from a distant galaxy could you ever distinguish between such parity products as dungarees from Guess, Gloria Vanderbilt, or Calvin Klein? How could you know that Cadillac, BMW, Lexus, and Jaguar have entirely different brand personalities?" (1999: 183). The "brand personalities" that are popularly associated with these and other luxury brands represent a nebulous but important so-called "dream factor" that makes their ownership important to some consumers. For instance, Kahle and Chiagrous note that, "The dream of owning a luxury brand item, whether it be a car, jewelry, fashion, perfume, or high-tech sound system, is at the core of consumer fantasies" (1999: 37). It is reasonable to suggest that the vast majority of Americans share certain "consumer fantasies" when it comes to various luxury brand purchases, but determining how these powerful forces actually play out in the marketplace remains unclear. This determination, though, represents an important issue for luxury brand marketers as well as their lower-priced competitors. In this… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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