Shopping behavior and the
Tammy R. Kinley, Bharath M. Josiam and Fallon Lockett
School of Merchandising and Hospitality Management,
University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to determine whether the degree of involvement with
shopping for clothing affects the frequency with which GenY consumers seek the opinions of others
when making clothing purchases for themselves; the non-personal sources that inﬂuence the
frequency of clothing purchase; and certain shopping behaviors.
Design/methodology/approach – Written questionnaires were completed by students at a
university in the southwestern region of the USA.
Findings – Most of the participants were determined to be high involvement shoppers who sought
opinions of female friends and co-workers, used most of the non-personal idea sources, shopped more
often, spent more money, and were more comfortable shopping for clothing.
Research limitations/implications – While the participants are representative of the GenY
characteristics and a valid sample for this project, the use of a convenience sample may limit the
generalizability of the results.
Practical implications – Generation Y consumers who are more involved with shopping for
clothing tend to consult a variety of resources prior to purchase, particularly other females and
marketing delivered via various media. Retailers and clothing manufacturers should take advantage
of visual merchandising opportunities and social networking avenues as well as traditional
advertising and promotion outlets.
Originality/value – The research further reﬁnes the involvement construct with a group of
consumers who are very involved with shopping for clothing. The opinions of other females,
magazines, catalogs, television advertisements and programs, music videos, internet advertisements,
and celebrities are important in the product selection process.
Keywords Shopping, Decision making, Behaviour
Paper type Research paper
Shopping behaviors explain how and where a consumer shops (McKinney et al., 2004).
The comfort level of making clothing purchase decisions for oneself, frequency of
purchase, amount of time spent shopping, and amount of money spent for an outﬁt can be
useful to the retailer. If the level of involvement with shopping is also examined as a
psychographic descriptor, and a demographic descriptor is also employed, creating a
shopper proﬁle becomes even more robust. Consumers shop in different kinds of stores
with differing frequencies and spend variable amounts of money for a wide spectrum of
products. Therefore, narrowing the focus to a particular demographic and psychographic
characteristic to determine shopping tendencies can be particularly useful.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
The authors wish to thank the following graduate students in the Spring 2008 class of SMHM
5400 for data collection: Davette Angelo, Marvyn Boatswain, Ladacher Jackson, Renata Lopes,
Tamara Robertson, and Tifani Talbert.
Received February 2009
Revised August 2009
Accepted November 2009
Journal of Fashion Marketing and
Vol. 14 No. 4, 2010
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
Numerous studies have been done by marketers concerning shopping behavior
as it relates to certain demographic groups. A demographic group is deﬁned as
measurable, substantial, accessible, and actionable (Donthu and Cherian, 1994). A
generation meets these criteria and is deﬁned in the literature as a group of people
with certain attitudes and behaviors in common that are different from the
generation before it (Beirne, 2008). As they come of age, Generation Y (born between
1976 and 1994) has become increasingly interesting to marketers due in large part
to the role they play in the consumption process. This cohort, largely comprised of
individuals in their college years, serves as the focus of this study as well.
Speciﬁcally this study seeks to investigate the shopping behavior of Generation Y
collegians, as delineated by involvement with shopping, by inquiring where they get
ideas for clothing purchases and their self-identiﬁed shopping behaviors. The
following literature review describes the importance of Generation Y in terms of
purchasing power and purchasing desire. This group is sufﬁciently different from
previous generations to warrant psychographic deﬁnition, particularly with regard
to speciﬁc product purchase.
1. Generation Y
Generation Y is racially and ethnically diverse in that 34 percent of its members
represent a minority group compared with 27 percent representation of minority
groups among the total population (Wilson and Field, 2007; Morton, 2002). These
individuals are characterized by their propensity to use technology and engage in
multiple media activities. Ironically, this individualistic group that values their
personal identities and the customization of products identiﬁes strongly with group
orientations and activities involving friends (Sebor, 2006). They see themselves as
special and enjoy such activities as listening to music, eating out, going to the movies,
and watching television (Morton, 2002).
In recent years, marketers have given considerable attention to this generation
because of its expansive size, propensity to have greater discretionary income, and its
socialization to the consumption process sooner than earlier generations (Bakewell and
Mitchell, 2003). Generation Y is also an attractive consumer segment because its
shopping behaviors are considered compulsive, the ﬁnancial responsibilities of its
members are few, and this group has a keen eye for trends (Sebor, 2006). In addition to
their own spending, Generation Y inﬂuences 81 percent of family apparel purchases
(O’Donnell, 2006). This group is described as better educated and more brand
conscious than previous generations, and is deemed to have the means with which to
purchase higher priced items such as clothing, computers, CDs, and electronics
(Wolburg and Pokrywczynski, 2001). Additionally, Yankelovich data indicate that this
generation is more optimistic about their future and opportunities that lie ahead of
them than are members of Generation X and Boomers (Yankelovich Monitor, 2009). It
should also be noted that college students make up a large portion of Generation Y and
have been chosen as one of the most desirable market segments of this group. Reasons
for this include the size of the college student segment of Generation Y, and the
tendency of college students to be trendsetters and to develop preferences and brand
loyalties that last beyond college. The high standard of living projected for college
students following graduation, and the inﬂuence of this group on their parent’s choices
indicate present and future buying power. College student’s propensity to set examples
for the remainder of the population to follow provides strong marketing potential
(Wolburg and Pokrywczynski, 2001). Further, this generation has identiﬁed shopping
as a high priority with clothing shopping the top activity (Martin and Turley, 2004).
Involvement is deﬁned as an unobservable state of motivation, arousal, or interest
(Rothschild, 1984). In a consumer behavior context, involvement is the degree to which
consumers are engaged in different aspects of the consumption process as it relates to
products, advertisements, and purchasing (Broderick and Mueller, 1999). Additional
evidence of the relevance of involvement theory to the study of shopping patterns can
be found in Josiam et al. (2005) in which they describe the involvement construct as an
imperative psychographic facet of consumer behavior.
There has been an increasing focus on the measurement of involvement in terms of
objects, which includes the messages behind products, the task of purchasing and
promotions. The basis of such research has led to a consensus in the literature that
consumer’s level of involvement is determined by the personal relevance of an object
(Michaelidou and Dibb, 2006) and as the heart of the person-object relationship (O’Cass,
2000). One of the most well-known researchers of involvement of this type,
Zaichkowsky, deﬁnes involvement as “a person’s perceived relevance of the object
based on inherent needs, values, and interests” (Zaichkowsky, 1985 p. 342). That is, the
higher the degree of relevance of an object to a consumer, the higher that consumer’s
level of involvement with the object ( Josiam et al., 2005). Under high involvement
conditions, consumers engage in an extended problem-solving process (Zaichkowsky,
1985). Thus high involvement implies greater relevance to the self (O’Cass, 2000).
Foxall et al. (1998) recognized involvement for the role it plays in attitude formation,
consumer satisfaction, and brand loyalty. Thus the higher the level of involvement, the
more likely a consumer is to seek outside information with which to evaluate possible
alternatives. This outcome is less likely when low involvement objects are considered
as they are of little relevance to consumers. Level of involvement can affect consumer
reactions to promotional media, their attitudes and behaviors with respect to a certain
pursuits, and the way they make decisions ( Josiam et al., 2005). Speciﬁcally, there is
evidence in the literature that involvement is directly related to the way consumers
perceive advertising as they often vary the extent to which they receive and process
advertising messages depending on their involvement level (Laurent and Kapferer,
1985). Involvement may be categorized as enduring, situational, or responsive. In their
review of the theoretical context and deﬁnition of the involvement construct,
Michaelidou and Dibb (2006) cite the Laaksonen (1977, p. 445) deﬁnition of response
involvement as a behavioral process and thus a “means to mediate information
search”. In the present study, this view of involvement does not apply. Situational
involvement represents a mental state of temporary interest or concern (Laaksonen,
1977). In other words, the level of involvement is governed by the object or situation
(Michaelidou and Dibb, 2006, p. 443). Enduring involvement, on the other hand, is
“intrinsically motivated, purchase independent and adopts the social psychological
perspective ... the degree of psychological connection between the individual and the
stimulus object”. Enduring involvement is stable over time. The objective of the
present study is to examine consumers’ enduring involvement with shopping.
1.2 Involvement and shopping for clothing
Research has shown a positive correlation between involvement and clothing
purchases (Michaelidou and Dibb, 2006; Seo et al., 2001; Summers et al., 2006). Josiam
et al. (2005) asserts that the more involved a consumer is, the more likely they are to
shop for longer periods, and be receptive to promotional initiatives. O’Cass (2004)
found that involvement leads to conﬁdence in product purchase decisions. Male Gen Y
collegians with a high-involvement orientation to shopping for clothing generally
purchased and spent more and were more aware of popular labels than shoppers with a
low-involvement orientation (Seo et al., 2001). High-involvement consumers tend to
prefer shopping for clothing at specialty stores and are more likely to be aware of name
brands and fashion trends (Shim and Kotsiopulos, 1992). On the other hand, Sullivan
and Heitmeyer (2008) found that involvement was not a factor in Gen Y’s preference for
shopping in particular retail stores.
There is also evidence in the literature that in marketing, price weighs heavily on
involvement. That is, the higher the price, the more involved consumers are likely to be
(Laurent and Kapferer, 1985). This is especially the case when it comes to purchasing
durable goods. Both Laurent and Kapferer (1985) and Traylor and Joseph (1984)
explain that durable goods are generally considered high involvement purchases
because they of their longevity and subsequent long-term ownership even if a poor
choice. For example, Traylor and Joseph (1984) found that low-priced nondurables
which are generally purchased more often such as socks, toothpaste, and milk rated
low on product involvement. In contrast, high or medium priced durables which are
often purchased less frequently such as blue jeans, a car, and a wristwatch rated highly
on a scale of product involvement. Similarly, Summers et al. (2006) found involvement
to be a signiﬁcant predictor of the desire to purchase luxury fashion.
1.3 The impact of involvement on clothing purchases
Involvement is an important aspect of clothing related purchases due in part to fashion’s
integral role in society as well as to the meaning placed on clothing by consumers
(Michaelidou and Dibb, 2006). The self-expressive nature of clothing allows consumers a
means through which to capture their own identity. This leads to the personal relevance
of clothing which causes the consumer to become more involved when making
purchases. Involvement among consumers is also likely to vary with the desire of
consumers to use clothing as a means to enhance their self-images, and to engage in
self-expression and pleasure through selection (Michaelidou and Dibb, 2006). Park et al.
(2006) found fashion involvement had a positive effect on emotion, hedonic consumption,
and fashion-oriented impulse buying. That is, consumers with high involvement were
more likely to be excited, satisﬁed, curious, and impulsive while shopping for clothing.
1.4 Seeking the opinions of others
Reference group theory is applicable when referring to Generation Y consumers
seeking the opinions of those whom they revere (Kinley et al., 2000). These individuals
generally serve as the core group from which consumers obtain opinions and
information, and are often referred to as a reference group. This group is often
comprised of spouses or signiﬁcant others, family members), coworkers, and as
Mallalieu and Palan (2006) found, salespeople. Consumers are likely to ask for the
opinion of members in a reference group in an effort to conform to the norms of the
group, as well as society as a whole (Kinley et al., 2000). Historian and demographer
Neil Howe asserts that Generation Y has a propensity to seek the opinions of friends
and often do not like to engage in an adversarial manner with peers (Beirne, 2008). This
lends to their propensity to seek the approval of friends and peer groups when
shopping for something as status oriented as clothing. An exception to the inﬂuence of
peers on shopping decision making can be found among older college students
(Lachance and Legault, 2007). This group has been found to be more likely to be
inﬂuenced by parents and school as opposed to peers.
Nevertheless, scholars theorize that members of Generation Y tend to seek peer
advice when shopping. To that end, members of Generation Y deem obtaining the
opinions and advice of others while shopping for clothing as a measure of shopping
competence. This results in a comprehensive approach to shopping which ultimately
leads to better decision making (Mallalieu and Palan, 2006). Moreover, the literature
states that peer groups are likely to be inﬂuential when it comes to the purchase of
luxuries consumed publicly. Further, men are more likely to request purchase
information from those with whom they are close as opposed to strangers (Kinley et al.,
2000). This coincides with the notion stated in Wilson and Field (2007) that members of
Generation Y remain connected to one another, constantly seek each other’s approval,
and are subjected to each other’s inﬂuences through open opinion sharing.
1.4.1 Inﬂuence of advertising and other non-personal idea sources. Research
indicates that Generation Y does not respond well to traditional advertising. This
group is more likely to be skeptical because they are often bombarded with messages
through various media not characteristic of other generations at this age (Wolburg and
Pokrywczynski, 2001). Morton (2002) also proposes that Gen Y is doubtful of the media
and is risk-averse due to tragedies that characterize this Generation such as the 1999
Columbine High School shootings. Members of this group more aware – placing
greater emphasis on personal safety, and privacy. As a result, it is thought that
members of Generation Y often assume that marketers have negative intentions and
that their sole intention is to deceive consumers into making purchases (Wolburg and
Pokrywczynski, 2001). That is, they know when marketers are trying to sell to them
and would prefer to feel as though they discovered the product as opposed to the
product being pushed upon them. Hence, two of the tactics mentioned in the literature
designed to effectively reach this group include grass-roots and word-of-mouth
marketing campaigns. Both methods are generally to the point, and are less invasive
than traditional marketing initiatives (Sebor, 2006).
Many marketers ﬁnd it difﬁcult to choose the appropriate medium with which to
reach this group because of their access not only to the internet and television, but to
cellular phones, video games, and PDAs as well (Morton, 2002). Whatever the medium
used, Cheng (1999) found that advertisements directed at this group should be relevant,
attractive, and effectively executed. Additionally, the literature asserts that Generation
Y is more receptive to ads that utilize humor and irony as well as to those rooted in
avant-garde marketing approaches such as pop-up stores and other unusual
promotions (Wolburg and Pokrywczynski, 2001; Wilson and Field, 2007). Care should
be exercised when using humor however as this group prides itself on its intelligence
(Beirne, 2008). In addition, in spite of the desensitization of Generation Y to celebrity
images, there is evidence that celebrity spokespersons and athletes have a strong
inﬂuence on this group followed by journalists and early adopters (Morton, 2002).
1.4.2 Shopping behaviors. Shopping for apparel is one of the most popular pastimes
the world-over (Textile Consumer, 2001). In American society, most consumers
consider shopping a fun and social activity and there is evidence in the literature that
people visit shopping malls as tourist attractions while traveling even though there are
comparable stores in their home city ( Josiamet al., 2005).
Comfort with making decisions concerning product purchase can be related to the
degree of conﬁdence the consumer possesses with regard to the product category. The
degree of knowledge about clothing itself or about fashion can vary from person to
person (O’Cass, 2004). The degree of conﬁdence could reﬂect either certainty or
uncertainty as to which judgment is correct or the best in that situation (Day, 1970)
thus affecting the strength of the relationship between attitudes and behavior (O’Cass,
2004, p. 873). Conﬁdence, then, “represents a consumer’s belief that their knowledge or
ability is sufﬁcient or correct”, regarding the product category.
Fashion involvement and time spent shopping have been found to be signiﬁcantly
and positively related (Flynn and Goldsmith, 1993). Guiry et al. (2006) found that
shopping enthusiasts, those who most strongly embraced recreational shopping as a
part of their identity, went shopping more frequently than other shoppers. Similarly,
Scarpi (2006) found that consumers who see shopping as fun (hedonic) had a higher
purchase frequency and were more likely to make unplanned purchases than the
utilitarian shopper who purchased less often and was unlikely to continue shopping
once they found what they needed. Research conducted by Cotton Incorporated and
Cotton Council International found that American consumers made an average of 23
apparel shopping trips in 2001, compared with 22 apparel shopping trips in 1999.
Compared to consumers in ten other countries, including the UK, Korea, Brazil, and
Germany, Americans made the most shopping trips per year (Textile Consumer, 2001).
Guiry et al. (2006) found that the consumer who enjoyed the recreational nature of
shopping more spent more time and signiﬁcantly more money than those who did not
view shopping as positively. According to Cotton Incorporated’s Lifestyle Monitor
(2004), women spend an average of 112 minutes a month shopping for clothing. Park
et al. (2006) found that college-age Generation Y students indicated they spent less than
$200 per month on clothing. Data reported by Cotton Incorporated’s Lifestyle Monitor
indicate the average consumer spends $75.80 on clothing per month (Lifestyle Monitor,
2006a). Another issue of this publication reported that 53 percent of college students
indicated they spend between $50 and $200 þa month on clothing (Lifestyle Monitor,
2006b). Given the documented inﬂuence of involvement, reference groups, and
advertising, the objective of this study is to determine whether the degree of
involvement with shopping (high, medium, low) for clothing affects:
(1) The frequency with which subjects seek the opinions of others when making
clothing purchases for themselves.
(2) The non-personal sources, including marketing media, internet and
brick-and-mortar store aspects that inﬂuence the frequency of clothing purchase.
(3) Shopping behaviors including:
.comfort with making clothing purchase decisions for the self;
.frequency of shopping for clothing;
.average amount of time spent on a shopping trip; and
.the average amount of money spent for an outﬁt.
Graduate students administered the Shopper Behavior Study questionnaire during
undergraduate class sessions in an effort to obtain a convenience sample of Generation
Y students enrolled at a university in the southwestern USA. This survey was
reviewed and approved by the Internal Review Board (IRB). The research assistants
verbally explained the purpose of the study was to learn more about how the
participants shop for clothing. The IRB letter of disclosure on the ﬁrst page of the
survey also communicated this purpose in writing.
Initially created by Zaichkowsky (1985), the involvement section of the
questionnaire consisted of a ten-item bipolar scale (range 1-7) from which
respondents were asked to select their level of involvement with regards to
shopping. These were the same ten items used by Josiam et al. (2005).
Seven questions were asked to ﬁnd out how often participants ask for opinions from
particular persons (spouse or signiﬁcant other, male or female friends and co-workers)
regarding clothing purchases. The list was based on one used by Kinley et al. (2000),
but reduced from eleven items to seven in order to eliminate redundancy. Answer
choices were provided on a ﬁve point scale where 5 ¼Always and 1 ¼Never. To
determine advertising inﬂuences, participants were asked to indicate on a ﬁve-point
scale (5 ¼Always and 1 ¼Never) where they get ideas for clothing purchases. The
types of promotional formats consisted of 18 items including fashion magazines,
catalogs, internet store websites, social networking sites, watching others, and music
To determine shopping behaviors, comfort with clothing selection was measured
with a single question, “How comfortable are you with making your own decisions
about the clothes you purchase for yourself?” where 5 ¼Extremely Comfortable and
1¼Extremely Uncomfortable. Participants were asked how frequently they shop for
clothing (once a week, more than once a week, once in two weeks, once a month, more
than once a month, about once every other month, or once a season (four times a year).
Additionally, they were asked to indicate the average amount of time spent on a
shopping trip (in hours) and how much money they spend, on average, for an outﬁt in
A total of 665 usable surveys were collected. Most of the students were white (67.1
percent), female (75.1 percent), college juniors (42.7 percent) or seniors (39.7 percent),
and employed part-time (58.0 percent). The average age of participants was 22
(range ¼18 244). For more detail, see Table I.
Chronbach’s alpha was computed to determine the reliability of the involvement
scale. The computed score of 0.96 is consistent with the 0.95 alpha reported by
Zaichkowsky (1985) in the original study, and 0.96 reported by Josiam et al. (2005). As
in Josiam et al., the scale was used to segment Gen Y clothing shoppers into three
categories: low involvement (1-2.99), medium involvement (3-4.99), and high
involvement shoppers (5-7). In this study, 71.2 percent of the respondents were
classiﬁed as high, 23.7 percent as medium and 5.1 percent as low involvement
shoppers. This is consistent with Seo et al. (2001) who found a signiﬁcantly high level
of involvement among college students. The majority of the sample comprised
business and merchandising students who may be more inclined toward the
marketplace than some other student cohorts. There was almost an equal distribution
of males and females in the low- and medium-involvement groups, but a majority of
high involvement participants were female. While the category percentages are
consistent with previous research, the unbalanced groups are acknowledged as a
limitation of the study.
3.1 Seeking opinions of others
Analysis of variance was computed to determine the use of particular persons when
deciding whether to purchase a particular item for oneself. Signiﬁcant differences were
found for the use of female friends ( p,0.0001), female family members ( p,0.001),
and female co-workers ( p,0.01). Scheffe post hoc analysis indicated that high
involvement participants sought opinions of female friends and female co-workers
signiﬁcantly more than did low involvement participants (Table II).
3.2 Non-personal idea sources
Out of the 18 idea sources that did not represent friends or family from which shoppers
can get ideas for clothing purchase, high involvement participants used all of them
more often than did the other two groups. The top three non-personal idea sources used
most often by all three involvement groups were shopping, store displays, and
observing other people. Eleven of the sources including shopping, store displays,
internet stores, fashion magazines, celebrities, television programs, fashion shows,
catalogs, fashion TV channels, television ads, and non-fashion magazines, were used
signiﬁcantly more often ( p,0.001) by high involvement participants. The idea
source, observing other people, was used signiﬁcantly less often ( p,0.0001) by low
involvement participants as shown in Table II.
Male 20 55.6 88 53.7 68 13.7
Female 16 44.4 76 46.3 429 86.3
White/Caucasian 26 74.3 106 66.7 319 67.3
Black/African-American 5 14.3 17 10.7 58 12.2
Hispanic/Latino 3 8.6 21 13.2 45 9.5
Other 1 2.9 15 9.4 52 10.9
Freshman 1 2.8 3 1.9 18 3.6
Sophomore 2 5.6 8 5.0 69 13.9
Junior 9 25.0 66 41.0 220 44.3
Senior 23 63.9 77 47.8 181 36.4
Graduate 1 2.8 7 4.3 9 1.8
Age (mean) 22.83 22.88 21.79
Description of sample
3.3 Shopping behaviors
ANOVA indicated high involvement subjects were more comfortable making clothing
decisions for themselves than were either low or medium involvement participants
(p,0.0001), as indicated in Table II. Further, chi square analysis indicated a signiﬁcant
difference in frequency of shopping for the different involvement groups (X2¼164:178,
df ¼12, p,0.0001). High involvement participants indicated they shop about once
every two weeks (28.3 percent), while the greatest number of low and medium
involvement participants indicated they shop about four times a year (35.3 percent and
30.5 percent, respectively). On the other hand, ANOVA did not indicate a signiﬁcant
difference in the amount of time spent shopping for the different involvement groups.
Overall, participants indicated they spent an average of $165.31 on clothing each
month. Analysis of variance indicated a signiﬁcant difference between the average
amount of money spent on clothing and different levels of shopping involvement
(F¼13:184, df ¼668, p,0.0001). High involvement shoppers spent an average of
$197.16 per month, while medium involvement shoppers spent an average of $87.81,
and low involvement shoppers spent an average of $89.09.
Spouse 2.97 3.06 2.93 0.588 0.556
Female friends 2.72
Male friends 1.86 2.13 2.04 0.979 0.376
Female family members 2.89 2.88 3.31 8.256 0.000
Male family members 1.81 1.94 1.85 0.562 0.570
Female co-workers 1.80
Male co-workers 1.40 1.58 1.59 0.662 0.516
Fashion magazine 2.14
Non-fashion magazine 1.66
Television ad for clothing 2.29
Billboard ad for clothing 1.51
Newspaper ad for clothing 1.71 1.86 2.02 2.387 0.093
Store displays 3.06
Television programs 2.54
Music videos 2.11 1.98 2.39 7.073 0.001
TV shopping network 1.23 1.41 1.53 2.544 0.079
Fashion shows 1.89
Internet store sites 2.34
Fashion TV channels 2.09
Internet advertising 1.83
Social networking sites 1.66 1.93 2.07 2.879 0.057
Observing other people 2.83
Comfort with making clothing decisions 4.28
Amount of money spent on clothing per month $89.09
Note: Means sharing a common superscript are not signiﬁcantly different by the Scheffe test
behavior according to
4. Discussion and conclusions
Consistent with research conducted by Seo et al. (2001), 71 percent of the Gen Y
shoppers in this study were found to be highly involved with shopping for clothing.
Similar to Sebor (2006) and Mallalieu and Palan (2006) this study found that Generation
Y values the opinions of others, although overall the frequency of opinion seeking from
others was relatively neutral. Interestingly the person whose opinion was sought most
frequently by the medium and low involvement participants was the spouse or
signiﬁcant other while high involvement participants consulted female friends more
often. When examining statistical differences, high involvement shoppers sought
opinions of female friends and female coworkers more often than did low involvement
shoppers. Feedback sought from male cohorts was very low across the board. This
ﬁnding indicates that Generation Y is more interested in the female perspective than
the male perspective when it comes to purchasing clothing for themselves. In the
American culture, attention to fashion is attributed more often to females than to
males, which might explain this ﬁnding. Females are more expected to be interested in
and knowledgeable about fashion and clothing trends. It must be noted however, that
the strong female inﬂuence in the high involvement group may be a result of the large
number of female participants in the high involvement group.
Non-personal sources of information are also important to Generation Y for clothing
ideas, again with more highly involved participants using more sources. The most
frequent idea sources used by the high involvement shopper were shopping in the
store, store displays, and internet shopping sites. This study included thirteen choices
that were media-oriented; it is interesting that the most used sources of inspiration did
not involve a promotional budget. Highly involved shoppers get inspiration from the
clothing in the stores. However, when compared with medium and low involvement
shoppers, high involvement shoppers also used magazines, catalogs, television
advertisements and programs, music videos, internet advertisements, and celebrities
as inspiration sources more often. The high involvement shopper likes to shop, likes to
be in the stores, and pays attention to the merchandising and displays. Further, they
shop more often, and they spend more money on clothing each month than the lesser
involved groups. Consistent with Wolburg and Pokrywczynski (2001), participants in
this study indicated they do not rely on commercial advertising to form their opinions.
On the other hand, low involvement shoppers indicated they do not seek the
opinions of other people very often, but they do ﬁnd inspiration for clothing choices by
observing other people. It would appear from this data that this group of consumers is
still interested in clothing choice, but not interested enough to seek out information
directly from traditional marketing resources or the opinions of friends. Rather the
Generation Y member who has a lower involvement with shopping prefers to make
observations and draw their own conclusions, as is characteristic of this demographic
group when it comes to the appeal of marketing (Wolburg and Pokrywczynski, 2001).
Table III provides a summary of the results for each involvement group. These
ﬁndings underscore the importance of this generation of shoppers. As in previous
research cited in this paper, this generation does not respond to traditional sources of
product promotion like older consumers did at their age. They rely on the opinions of
people they know who are important to them, and to their own observations of product
available in the marketplace. At the retail (or internet) store, product placement and
presentation become critical for this target market. When shopping for clothing, there
are many choices; they are aware of those choices and will rely on their own instincts
and female friends for guidance. Afterall, they have a reputation of having a keen eye
for trends (Sebor, 2006). The retailer who has a strong commitment to merchandising
product will be most successful with the Generation Y customer.
5. Implications and suggestions for further study
Findings in this study indicate clothing brands and stores should focus marketing
efforts to Generation Y female consumers. While this generation has been found to be
different than precious generations in many regards, they look to females for opinion
validation and advice when it comes to clothing purchase. Generation Y does respond
to marketing efforts, but they want to “discover” product themselves. Thus the most
frequent idea sources were shopping, store displays, and internet shopping sites.
Retailers need to focus resources on visual merchandising – both in their
bricks-and-mortar and online stores. This is one support area often negatively
impacted when expenses need to be reduced – yet it is vital to reaching this critical
18-35 demographic. Further, aligning the clothing brand with fashion leaders and
celebrities continues to be an important strategy.
Opinions of others *Seeks opinions of
female friends and
Seeks opinions of
spouse and female
friends most often
Seeks opinions of
spouse and female
family members most
TV ads, billboard ads,
TV programs, music
videos, fashion TV
internet stores, fashion
shows, store displays,
and shopping more
often than other groups
Uses shopping and
observations of other
people most often
Uses shopping and
store displays most
*Uses observations of
signiﬁcantly less often
than the other groups
Uses shopping and TV
programs most often
Comfort with making
clothing decisions for
Shopping frequency *Shopped most often –
about once every two
Shop about four times a
Shop about four times a
Amount of money spent *Spent most money –
$197.16 per month
Spent average of $87.81
Spent average of $89.09
Note: *Statistically signiﬁcant difference
The ﬁndings in this study underscore the importance of the customer experience.
Atmospherics and sales personnel are vitally important in this regard, but the present
data indicate the customer is also interested in the visual aspects of shopping. Further
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that allow more freedom in visual merchandising at the store level. How do stores in a
chain that look visually consistent to the customer compare with individualistic
store-level approaches to product presentation?
Future studies should also ascertain differences in clothing shopping behaviors of
male and female Generation Y consumers. Most research to date has examined the
group as a whole, as did the present study, or look at females’ shopping behavior only.
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About the authors
Tammy Kinley is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Merchandising Division at the
University of North Texas. She received her PhD from Texas Tech University. Her research
expertise includes issues of garment ﬁt and aspects of consumer behaviour. Tammy Kinley is the
corresponding author and can be contacted at: TKinley@unt.edu
Bharath Josiam is an Associate Professor of Hospitality Management at the University of
North Texas. He received his PhD from the University of Minnesota. His research expertise
includes consumer behavior, GEN Y attitudes and behaviors, international travel and tourism,
and hospitality management.
Fallon Lockett is a graduate student at the University of North Texas, completing
requirements for a dual MBA/MS in Merchandising.
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