In this article we studied the behavior of consumers and the actors of purchase and information behavior of young consumers when choosing clothes. We found out about the meaning of individual clothing characteristics having impact on the purchase decision making (price, trademark, fitting of clothing, design, quality, etc. ). Consumers receive and look for information at different sources (radio commercials, TV commercials and shows, fashion magazines, catalogue sales, social networks, friends and acquaintances, etc. . With the empiric research we wanted to find out to what measure individual sources influence the purchase decision of an individual. We studied young people aged from 15 to 24 in the countries of the EX. (Slovenia, Austria and Germany) and the United States of America. We especially focused on characteristic differences. Knowing intercultural differences is important for global companies of the clothing industry for forming their marketing strategies.
On the sample of 440 young people who took part in the survey we found out that intercultural differences exist regarding the influence of individual information sources and regarding the factors of purchase decision making. Considering the stated we propose companies operating in global markets on both continents to repaper differentiated marketing strategies.
Key words: consumer behavior, clothing, marketing strategies, intercultural differences 1 Introduction Consumer purchase behavior can be defined as behavior that is demonstrated by consumers when looking for, assessing, purchasing, using and abandoning products and services for which it is expected that they will satisfy the consumer’s wishes and needs in the process of change (Solomon et al. , 2010). Young people usually adopt new technologies and the newest trends first; they pay remarkable attention to image and besides that they have a relatively high purchasing power (Werner, 2005).
For the clothing industry young people capable of paying are interesting. Young people are to a larger extent independent and self-dependent when making purchase decisions for products which they need (Kookier-Riel et al. , 2009). Research in the world shows that young people are financially well supported, spend irrationally, buy their identity and friendship and they take risks (Solomon, 2011). Besides the specific structure of consumption young people also have specific demands and opinions towards individual products and trademarks.
The basic function of clothing is to protect the body and to have look aesthetic. But clothing is becoming more and more important for today’s youth. Clothing also enables identification. Young people nowadays play a central role in fashion as they are in the period of searching for their own identity which is expressed and created through fashion and clothing. They can also be obsessed with their appearance and needs.
In the article we want to answer two basic research questions: what is the importance for young people aged between 15 and 24 from defined EX. countries (Slovenia, Austria and Germany) and the USA regarding factors of purchase and information behavior when purchasing clothing and what s the opinion of the researched population towards fashion clothing. On the basis of the gained results we want to find intercultural differences in the purchase and information behavior as well as their opinions towards fashion clothing. Culture is reflected as an important factor of purchase decision making.
Intercultural differences in the purchase behavior of consumers on different continents were discovered in more research (Swan, 2006). Received: 7th November 2011; revised: 12th. December 2011; accepted 30th December 2011 14 Among the stated countries we compared purchase behavior to find out if it comes own to intercultural differences. To enter the foreign markets in Austria, Germany and the USA and for the optimum functioning of marketing activities in individual foreign markets it is necessary to know the specificities of their consumers.
The results of the quantitative research will be useful for multinational corporations that want to conquer the stated markets. Slovenia was chosen for research as the domestic country. Austria and Germany are important commercial partners for Slovenian companies. Germany with a population of approximately 81 million people also presents the suggest market in the EX.. There are more than 9 million young people in the researched age (World Population Prospect, 2011). The market of the USA is interesting for the clothing industry because of its absorption capacity.
The USA are the most important trading partner of the EX., the third biggest importer of clothing industry products from the EX. and therefore interesting for treating the differences between both continents. According to the data of the UN (World Population Prospects, 2011) there are more than 43 million young people aged between 15 and 24 in the USA ND they represent an important market segment (Solomon and Arroba, 2009). In this article we are finding similarities and differences respectively in the purchase decision making of young consumers.
The gained result will be useful for companies especially from the point of differentiation of the marketing functioning on individual markets. We decided to choose the stated countries and continents as there has been no comparison of purchase behavior of young people choosing clothes among the countries yet. The findings will be an important contribution not only from the scientific point of view UT also from a practical one. 2 Factors of purchase and information behavior Studying factors of purchase and information behavior is important for the clothing industry from the marketing point of view.
Knowing the consumers’ marketing needs and understanding their buyers is therefore significant for everybody involved in the production process (Schulz, 2008). Information gained b researching consumers can be used in four areas: marketing mix, segmentation, positioning and differentiation as well as environment analysis and marketing research. Knowing the specific purchase and information of f consumers influences the forming of the marketing mix in companies of the clothing industry.
If they want to manufacture co successful clothing, experts (designers, marketers and others) have to consumers’ taste as well as to understand its target market and to ads elements of the marketing mix. 2. 1 Clothes characteristics and opinions towards fashion clothes Knowing the factors of purchase decision-making is important in the forming marketing strategies and the market- ins mix for young people’s clothes. Numerous authors worked on the purchase decision-making. The consumer’s perception of the mean actors of purchase decision-making was measured by numerous researchers in the past (Classical and Drake, 1987; Ghana et al. 2002), who found 20 characteristics important for the purchase decommissioning ( durability, care, label, fitting, style, gender accordance, breathable, tar country of origin, price, shop’s image, the possibility of usage on differ etc. ). They used the Liker scale for measuring whereby one meant very unimportant and five very important. Iceman and others (1990) summed up the factors that influence cons choosing clothing from their 21 studies and divided them into 35 extra redeemer, country of origin, shop’s image, wardrobe accordance, polio salespeople, guarantee… And 52 intrinsic (product composition: style, factory, look, fiber content; product look: care, fitting, durability, combo color; quality: structure, physical, producer; gender accordance). In t research study Fernery and others (1999) studied thoroughly the meaning of assessment measures for the acceptation of the purr They found that 21 factors influence the purchase of clothing: color, design, trademark, price, comfort, fashion durability, quality, cloth fitting, seller obligingness, maintenance simple rigging, etc.
In the research (Cavetti, 2005) Slovenian consumers attribute meaning to cloth fitting, comfort, design, etc. A lower value is attribute fashionableness of clothing. Adult consumers in the USA give the big cloth fitting, price, cut and color when making decisions regarding clothing purchase (Lifestyle Monitor, AAA). Many research prices are the most important factor when purchasing clothing (Minnow et al. , 2005; Joggers, 2006; Fading et al. , 2005; North et al. , 2003; Halyard et al. , 2009).
T Consent (2002) in their study found that for older girls the most imp hosing clothes are fitting, look, cut, price and color. Young people have different opinions towards fashionable clothes. Some believe that fashionable clothes are of bad quality, made from poor material, not functional and uncomfortable, even bad for health because of the cuts and the material. Successful marketers must be aware of the fact that for young consumers, quality is of essential meaning (Solomon et al. , 2009). They also have different opinions towards the prices of fashionable clothes.
Some are convinced that the clothing industry (producers) in development and production does not aka the wishes of young consumers into consideration. By knowing purchase habits of the young population, producers (clothing industry) design, develop, produce and sell fashionable clothes for young people and form marketing strategies that wake the interest of consumers for a definite sort of product (Kettle, 2004). 2. 2 Information sources In the decision making process information and consumer information behavior play an important role.
From the mass of information consumers are faced with daily we should choose important information or signals which would enable 15 us to make a purchase decision. The meaning of correct, accurate and timely informing has become decisive in all areas of public and private life. Only the informed has the opportunity of sensible decision making and acting (Devoted, 2007). Consumer information behavior usually starts with the consumers’ wish for information and includes a whole range of activities that serve gaining, processing, storing and further passing on of desired information.
There are numerous factors which strongly influence young people as consumers. The most important are family, school, peers, purchase experiences, clothing industry, mass media, etc. Consumers often use informal and social sources respectively when looking for information (Goldsmith and Clark, 2008). Consumers receive and look for information about a product at different sources: a salesman at the shop, word-of-mouth communication and from mass media (newspapers and magazines, test announcements, catalogues, etc. And lately increasingly the Internet (Bayle, 2008; Devoted and Maraud, 2011). More and more goods are sold on the Internet. Salespeople are convinced that goods are sold better and faster on the Internet (Rickrack and Consent, 2007). The basic commercial information resources when purchasing clothing are: radio advertisements, TV shows and commercials, fashion magazines, catalogue sales of clothing, the Internet, etc. Marketers will have to pay increasingly attention the Internet. Virtual communities such as Misplace. Mom, Faceable and Twitter offer forums where consumers can connect with friends and share different information. Consumers can also Join a group of interest that is connected with fashion and express their affection for a definite trademark as well as share their opinion with a broader public (Thomas et al. , 2007). At first young people attributed a greater meaning to television when purchasing clothing; later research gives advantage to newspapers, friends and sales staff at the shops (Limpkin and Greenberg, 1982, Limpkin, 1985; in Woo-Kayoing, 2009).
Morton (2002) finds that young consumers are mistrustful towards mass media and expose word-mouth communication. On the basis of research of young girls in the USA display windows are assessed the highest, followed by other people, catalogues, fashion magazines, etc. (Life Stile Monitor, 2009). The most important information sources about clothing in Slovenia are friends and acquaintances, articles in fashion Gaines, passers-by on the street, fashion shows on TV (Cavetti, 2005). Research methodology In the empiric part of the article we carried out a quantitative research whose purpose was to find out what meaning is given to individual purchase factors when purchasing clothing by young people from the EX. countries (Slovenia, Austria and Germany) and the USA and which information sources they give preference to when making purchase decisions. 3. 1 The sample of the quantitative research The sample of the quantitative research, N=440, represents students aged between 15 and 24 from the researched EX. entries (Slovenia, Austria and Germany) and the USA. 6 Because this is an international research which is finding intercultural differences among young people in individual countries and great extensions of geographical areas, the usage of the probability sampling cannot be realized. We limited to the quota sample which enables valid intercultural comparisons and is used in most scientific studies and doctoral dissertations, in which we thoroughly study intercultural differences in the purchase behavior. In quota sampling we choose the units in a way that the sample structure reflects the structure of the whole population.
The quota sample must be in accordance with the structure of the whole population from the point of those variables that essentially influence the data we are estimating (Berger et al. , 2005). The interviewees who took part in the survey are homogeneous regarding age and gender and so they are consecutively comparable units. The sample is divided into dependent quotas: gender (definite number of male, definite number of female), country and age. We set the quotas in a way that their structure suits the structure of the population.
In the quota sample 220 interviewees were included from individual countries of the EX. (121 male and 99 female) and from the USA (113 male and 107 female). The usage of homogeneous (above all students) samples with improbability sampling is becoming a frequent practice in intercultural research (Burton et al. , 2000; Soared, 2004). In scientific research where we thoroughly study intercultural differences mostly samples of students are used (Forsyth et al. , 1999; Taylor and Consent, 2002; Schaefer et al. , 2009; Sighing and Ghana, 2011). 3. 2 Research procedure The survey was carried out between 15 June 2011 and 15
October 2011 at secondary schools and faculties in Slovenia (Murmurs Sabot, Marimba, Slovene Graded, Cell, Lausanne, Copper and Novo Most), in Austria (Vienna, Grab, Challenger and Salisbury), in Germany (Berlin, Essen, Marabou in Inconstant) and in the USA (Boston (Massachusetts), Austin (Texas), Fort Wayne (Indiana) and Berkeley (California). We presume that young people independently decide on clothing and that sampled units in towns where research will take place do not essentially differ from the purchase behavior of the remaining population in the country.
We also presume that information plays an important role and can essentially influence consumers’ behavior, especially in the sense of purchase decision making. In each country the survey was carried out for as long as it lasted to get enough answers from people who provide comparable samples that are balanced regarding the country, gender and age. The survey was required out personally in groups in class. The interviewees themselves answered the questions in the questionnaire in written form with the attendance of an interviewer.
The questionnaire included 37 questions. The main part of the questionnaire included the following areas: 1. Perception of influence of individual information sources on the purchase of clothing, 2. Perception of importance of individual factors of purchase decision-making and 3. Opinions towards fashion clothing. Information sources and factors of purchase decommissioning when choosing clothing were defined in the questionnaire on the basis of findings of numerous authors in domestic and foreign secondary literature (Iceman et al. 1990; Taylor and Consent, 2002; Law, 2002; Forsyth et al. , 1999, Swan, 2006), but at the same time interviewees had the alternative to write an answer which was not predicted among the given ones. Statements that influence opinions in connection with fashionable clothes were formed on the basis of interviews with hundreds of young people at home and abroad. To assess the influence of individual information sources on purchase decisions we used the five-level Liker scale, where grade 1 means no influence at all and grade 5 complete influence.
The assessment of the factors of purchase decision-making was also done using the five-level Liker scale, where grade 1 means absolutely unimportant and grade 5 very important. To find out young consumers’ opinions towards fashionable loathes we also used the five-level Alkali scale of agreement, where grade 1 means I do not agree at all and grade 5, I totally agree. Before starting the survey we tested the questionnaire. When forming the questions we checked the ideas and word choice with the focus group of secondary school students and students from higher educational institutions in Slovenia.
Afterwards we discussed the questionnaire with colleagues and experts from the treated field and the field of methodology. Finally we tested the questionnaire by personal surveying on the sample of 40 people (20 men and 20 omen) aged 15 to 24 from Slovenia, Austria, Germany and the USA. For the performance of the research in Austria, Germany and the USA we translated the questionnaire into English and German. Based on the testing of the questionnaire there were some changes made to it. To assure good measure quality we assessed the reliability of the measure instrument by Cockroach’s alpha coefficient of reliability.
The input and analytical processing of data was carried out by the statistics software IBM SIPS Statistics 19. Data processing shows descriptive statistics, t-test and basic data comparisons. On the basis of defined research questions and in accordance with the research goals we set basic research hypothesis: Hypothesis 1: Between the groups of young people in the countries of the EX. and the USA there are statistically important differences in assessing individual factors that influence the purchase of clothing.