Research Proposal: Influence of Self-Perception and Self-Image on Consumer Choice in Luxury Fashion Brands

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¶ … SELF-PERCEPTION and SELF-IMAGE on CONSUMERS' CHOICE of LUXURY FASHION BRANDS

The objective of this research is to examine the influence that self-perception and self-image have on the consumer in their choice of luxury fashion brands.

The literature regarding self-image and product-image congruity is stated in the work of Landon (1974) to have been "initiated by Levy (1959) and Gardner and Levy (1955)." (p.1) the first researcher to measure "the extent to which self-image is congruent with purchase" was Birdwell (1968) who concluded that "self-image was significantly more congruent with brand of car owned that with the seven other brands studied, using a semantic differential." (Landon, 1974, p.1) the work of Dolich (1969) is reported to have employed a semantic differential as well and found that there was a greater congruity between self-image and most preferred brand over all four product categories" and as well found that self-image was equally effective for most preferred brands of both social and private products." (Landon, 1974, p.1)

III. Literature Review

The work of Weidman, Hennigs, and Siebels (2007) entitled: "Measuring Consumers' Luxury Value Perception: A Cross-Cultural Framework" states that in view of the dynamic growth in the luxury market and the availability of luxury goods to a wider range of consumers than ever before, the luxury market has transformed from its traditional conspicuous consumption model to a new experiential luxury sensibility marked by a change in the way consumers define luxury." (p.1) it is stated as well that it is critical for luxury researchers and marketers in the global context to understand why consumers buy luxury, what they believe luxury is and how their perception of luxury value impacts their buying behavior." (Weidman, Hennigs, and Siebels, 2007, p.1) Weidman Hennigs, and Siebels (2007) state that 'luxury' is a construct that is "subjective and multidimensional" and that a definition of the concept of luxury should follow an integrative understanding." (2007, p.1)

Luxury is stated to be defined in the work of Weidman, Hennigs, and Siebels and "the highest level of prestigious brands encompassing several physical and psychological values." (p.1) Weidman, Hennigs, and Siebels (2007) state that luxury goods consumption involves "...purchasing a product that represents value to both the individual and their reference group. Referring to personal and interpersonal oriented perceptions of luxury, it is expected that different sets of consumers would have different perceptions of the luxury value for the same brands, and that the overall luxury value of a brand would integrate these perceptions from different perspectives." (p.1) Furthermore, if the luxury's overall level of value or brand is equally perceived across national borders then it is stated that a "differentiated measurements may reveal that the overall luxury value perception is a combination of different evaluations with regards to the subdimensions." (Weidman, Hennigs, and Siebels, 2007) This differentiated perception of luxury value is stated to possibly rely on the cultural context and the people concerned." (Weidman, Hennigs, and Siebels, 2007, p.1)

The work of Kapferer (1997) states that luxury is enlightening...Luxury items provide extra pleasure and flatter all senses at once . . .Luxury is the appendage of the ruling classes? (Kapferer 1997, p. 253). Luxury goods are stated to "enable consumers to satisfy psychological and functional needs. Above all these benefits can be regarded as the main factor distinguishing luxury from non-luxury products or counterfeits." (Weidman, Hennigs, and Siebels, 2007, p. 1) Necessities are stated to be utilitarian objects that "relieve an unpleasant state of discomfort" while luxury items are "characterized as objects of desire that provide pleasure." (Weidman, Hennigs, and Siebels, 2007)

The work of Nicole Stegemann (2006) entitled: "Unique Brand Extension Challenges for Luxury Brands" published in the Journal of Business & Economics Research states that many luxury brands "have a long history with their origin in France, and many luxury goods manufacturers such as Louis Vuitton, which celebrated its 150 anniversary in 2004 have been around for a long time." (p.1)

According to Stegemann (2006) consumers use luxury brands because of their desire to differentiate themselves by either being part of this reference group or to separate themselves from other groups preferably to become part of a higher social class." (p.2) Stegemann additionally reports that there are three consumer segments as opposed to the original segments of the 'affluent' and the 'excluded' and that those three segments are:

(1) the Elitists -- the traditional affluent segment;

(2) the Excursionists -- representing the middle class that carefully and occasionally purchasing luxury goods; and (3) the distance segment -- not interested in luxury at all. (Stegemann, 2006, p.2)

Stegemann relates that it was shown in the work of Dubois & Laurent (1994) and Dubois et al. (2001) that the attitudes of consumers toward the concept of luxury "differ considerably to those of non-luxury brands" and found that the attitudes of consumers toward the concept of luxury are ambivalent, as consumers hold strong positive and/or negative connotations towards luxury.." (2006, p.3)

The desire of consumers for luxury brands has been utilized in the marketing of luxury goods to promote other products through what is known as 'brand extension'. Roux and Boush (1996) are repotted by Stegemann to have "built upon the research by Roux (1995) and examined the effect of consumers' brand knowledge on both their evaluation of luxury brand extension and their inferences about their effect of the extension on the original brand. They found that brand knowledge positively effects quality perceptions of potential brand extensions. Consumers showed a favorable attitude towards luxury brand extensions, which were predominantly evaluated with respect to their conceptual fit with the parent brand." (Stegemann, 2006, p.3)

The work of Barnier and Rodina (2006) entitled: "Which Luxury Perceptions Affect Most Consumer Purchase Behavior? A Cross Cultural Exploratory Study in France, the United Kingdom and Russia" reports a study which analyzed the consumer perceptions of luxury in three countries and specifically those of France, Russia and the United Kingdom. Barnier and Rodina state that research results revealed "relevance of four luxury facets to all three cultures" as follows:

(1) Aesthetics;

(2) Premium Quality;

(3) Product Personal History; and (4) Expensiveness. (2006)

It is related as well that a new luxury dimension of self-pleasure is relevant for the three cultures and that this is linked to:

(1) Aspiration and Product Conspicuousness for the French;

(2) Functionality and Luxury Atmospherics for the British; and (3) Functionality for the Russians. (Barnier and Rodina, 2006)

The work of O'Cass and Frost (2002) entitled: "Status Brands: Examining the Effects of Non-Product Related Brand Associations on Status and Conspicuous Consumption" published in the Journal of Product & Brand Management reports a study that sought to expand the understanding of brands and their impact on consumer behavior and to assess the relationship between brand associations which is stated to be a contributor to consumption behavior. Toward this end a self-administered questionnaire was developed and administered to a non-probabilistic convenience sample of 315 young consumers. Research findings are stated to indicate that

"…the status-conscious market is more likely to be affected by the symbolic characteristics of a brand; feelings aroused by the brand; and by the degree of congruency between the brand-user's self-image and the brand's image itself. Results also indicate that the higher the symbolic characteristics, the stronger the positive feelings, and the greater the congruency between the consumer and brand image, the greater the likelihood of the brand being perceived as possessing high status elements. The suspicion that status-laden brands would be chosen for status consumption and conspicuous consumption was also confirmed. These findings broaden our understanding of status-conscious consumers and their behavior towards brands." (O'Cass and Frost, 2002)

It was reported by Abrams Research in their 'Research Luxury Brands Survey & Report' of 2009 which was a survey of more than 100 leaders and experts in the luxury industry including "influential fashion editors, fashion designers, editors-in-chief, buyers, merchandisers, gallerists, business journalists, fashion bloggers, wine experts, industry analysts and shelter writers." (2009) it is reported that the first luxury items to be cut from budgets will be that of fine art while high-end home furnishings will have the most 'staying power'. Abrams Research reports that emergence of a few themes including those as follows:

(1) the importance of quality cannot be overstated as the sampling in the study felt that luxury was about quality beyond all else and that it was essential to luxury brand identity;

(2) Quality essentials were aligned with hallmark brands such as Chanel, Vuitton, and Rolex and is reported to be of the nature that will remain high in importance to the high-end luxury consumer. (Abrams Research, 2009)

It is reported that brand management begins with the conceptual view of brand identity which has been defined "as a world or a logo related to products that at the beginning has no sense and then, years after year, it acquires a meaning determined by the products and the communications of the past." (Saviolio, 2006) Brand could be identified as "a system of attributes." (Saviolio, 2006) Brand identity levers… [END OF PREVIEW]

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