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A preliminary investigation on womens buying behaviour towards value clothing products during a recessionary period in the UK

Aim: To investigate on womens buying behaviour towards value clothing products during a recessionary period in the UK. Objectives: 1. To investigate the preferences and spending patterns of women towards clothing in the UK 2. To evaluate womens attitude towards value clothing products 3. To identify the major factors influencing womens buying behavior in a recessionary period. 4. To draw conclusions on womens purchasing behavior and also provide a series of rational recommendations for value clothing retailers in the UK to perform better during a recession.

1.1 Background 1.2 Aim 1.3 Objectives 1.4 Scope of research 1.5 Outline

Chapter 2 Literature review Chapter 3 Research Methodology Chapter 4 Results and Findings Chapter 5 Discussions Chapter 6 Conclusions and Recommendations CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW 2.0 Introduction 2.1 Clothing market in UK 2.1.1 Market size 2.1.2 Value retailing 2.1.3 Future trends 2.2 Consumer buying behaviour 2.3 Maslows Theory 2.3.1 Physiological needs 2.3.2 Safety needs 2.3.3 Belongingness and love needs 2.3.4 Esteem needs 2.3.5 Self-actualization needs 2.4 Consumer decision making process 2.4.1 Problem recognition 2.4.2 Information search 2.4.3 Evaluation of alternatives 2.4.4 Purchase action 2.4.5 Post purchase decision

2.5 Principal influences on consumer behaviour 2.5.1 Demographic factors 2.5.2 Psychological factors Perception Motivation Attitudes Life style 2.5.3 Social factors Reference groups Social class Purchasing patterns 2.6 Marketing mix elements 2.6.1 Product 2.6.2 Price 2.6.3 Place 2.6.4 Promotion 2.7 Elucidation of brands 2.7.1 Brand image 2.7.2 Brand identity 2.7.3 Brand loyalty 2.8 Recession in the UK 2.8.1 Impact of recession on clothing buying behaviour CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 3.0 Introduction 3.1 Research Design 3.1.1 Purpose of research 3.1.2 Unit of analysis 3.1.3 Focus and time of research 3.2 Research Process 3.2.1 Quantitative research 3.2.2 Qualitative research 3.2.3 Triangulation method

3.3 Methods of data collection 3.3.1 Secondary Data 3.3.2 Primary Data Questionnaire Advantages of Questionnaire Disadvantages of Questionnaire Questionnaire content Questionnaire format Breakdown of questionnaire Pilot study Sampling Focus group interviews Focus groups participant composition. 3.4 Method of Data Analysis 3.5 Limitations of research CHAPTER 4 RESULTS AND FINDINGS Questionnaire results 4.1 General purchasing behaviour of women towards clothing products. 4.1.1 General frequency of purchasing clothes 4.1.2 Places of clothes purchase. 4.1.3 Key elements when shopping for clothes 4.1.4 Characteristics that affect/influence clothing purchases 4.1.5 Buying clothes on sale/discounted. 4.2 Recession in UK and its effect on shopping habits 4.2.1 Awareness of recession in UK. 4.2.2 Has recession affected clothes shopping? 4.2.3 Change of shopping habits due to recession. 4.2.4 Effect of recession on clothes shopping.

4.3 Purchasing behaviour of women towards clothing products during recession 4.3.1 Frequency of purchasing clothes in the last 3 months. 4.3.2 Comparison of clothing purchases in the last 3 months with that of the last year. 4.3.3 Buying clothes differently compared to last year. 4.3.4 Reasons for change in shopping habits. 4.4 Personal details 4.4.1 Respondents Age 4.4.2 Respondents Occupation Focus group results Question 1: How often do you purchase your clothes and where do you normally shop for them? Why? Question 2: What attracts and influences during your clothing purchase? Question 3: Do you shop for clothes on sale/discounts? If so, why? Question 4: As you are aware of the recession in UK, how has it affected the way you shop for clothes? Question 5: What is the frequency of your shopping in the last 3 months? Question 6: What do you think are the reasons for the change in your shopping behaviour compared to last year? CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSIONS 5.0 Introduction 5.1 Value clothing retailing and women in the UK 5.1.1 Decision making process of women 5.1.2 Factors influencing women during clothing purchases 5.1.3 Role of marketing mix elements on value clothing sector 5.1.4 Impact of communication and advertising on womens purchase 5.1.5 Influence of brand names in clothing purchases

5.2 Impact of recession on womens clothing buying behaviour 5.3 Purchasing patterns of women during recession 5.4 Summary of key findings 5.5 Discussion of findings 5.6 SWOT analysis of the value clothing market in the UK CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 6.0 Conclusion and recommendations 6.1 Recommendations for clothing retailers 6.2 Recommendation for future research 6.3 Overture REFERENCES LIST OF TABLES LIST OF FIGURES LIST OF CHARTS APPENDIX - QUESTIONNAIRE

LIST OF TABLES Table 1: Clothing retail price Indices in UK for period 2002 to 2007 Table 2: Different functions of attitude Table 3: Comparison of Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies Table 4: Focus group participant composition Table 5: Focus Group Question 1 Table 6: Focus Group Question 2 Table 7: Focus Group Question 3 Table 8: Focus Group Question 4 Table 9: Focus Group Question 5 Table 10: Focus Group Question 6 Table 11: Where women have bought clothing for themselves (2002-2007) Table 12: Key findings of the research Table 13: SWOT Analysis LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1: Product trends in the UK clothing market in 2007 Figure 2: Maslows Hierarchy of Needs Figure 3: Decision making process Figure 4: UK GDP at Current market prices Figure 5: Triangulation method Figure 6: Questionnaire development process

LIST OF CHARTS Chart 1: General frequency of purchasing clothes Chart 2: Places of clothes purchase Chart 3: Key elements when shopping for clothes Chart 4: Characteristics that affect/influence clothing purchases Chart 5: Buying clothes on sale or discounts Chart 6: Awareness of recession in UK Chart 7: Has recession affected clothes shopping? Chart 8: Change in shopping habits due to recession Chart 9: Effect of recession on clothes shopping. Chart 10: Frequency of purchasing clothes in the last 3 months. Chart 11: Comparison of clothing purchases Chart 12: Buying clothes differently compared to last year. Chart 13: Reasons for change in shopping habits. Chart 14: Respondents Age Chart 15: Respondents Occupation




The clothing industry was of great importance to the British economy in the nineteenth and early twentieth century and yet remains the same with growing technology. The market for clothing in UK is comparatively huge and attractive because of its size and growth. Clothing retailers have realized the need to concentrate on design, rather than basic production, which can be done more cheaply overseas. Threatened by cheap imports, the UK industry has had some success in differentiating its product through quality and design, and has an enviable reputation at home and overseas. Competition among the major clothing retailers are expanding through acquisition whereas the small and emerging retailers, which struggled hard at the beginning, find their niche to be profitable (Jones 2002).

The clothing retail industry in the UK has been and is undergoing significant changes resulting from processes of globalization, changes in consumer demand as well as changing corporate activities in terms of strategic marketing decisions. It has experienced significant growth which has focused attention on studies in the field with this sector being considered as the one of the most competitive markets in Europe. This is primarily as a result of the concentrated power of larger retailers such as Marks & Spencer (M&S), John Lewis, Primark and Matalan.

One prime issue as a result of globalization is that there are more and more retailers sourcing globally aiming to provide competitive prices and quality products in the market. Retailers like M&S and John Lewis are challenged by this trend particularly from rival discount and supermarket competitors (Artis 1992).

Clothing is considered to be one of the three most basic essentials of a humans life as it forms the first impression; apt to be permanent. It is important that they should be favorable as the clothes that are worn form the opinion of an individual. Be it a man or women, clothing is the only thing which is remarked in a casual encounter or during the first interview. The main sectors in the clothing market are outerwear, underwear and hosiery. Expenditure on clothing competes with durable and non-durable household goods whereas it is threatened by increased expenditure on leisure, travel and financial services. The female clothing which served as a basic necessity of life has, now, transformed as a fashion oriented requisite. Fashion that used to be the privilege of the upper class in the early nineteenth century is now enjoyed by almost everyone at every social level. The sales volume of womens clothing in the UK accounted for more than two-thirds (67.3%) of the total clothing sales. The rate of increase in value of the womens clothing sector has also been outperforming the mens and boys category, with a 19.7% increase over the 5-year review period (20022007), compared with only a 13% increase in retail sales value of mens and boys clothing seen between 2003 and 2007 (Key Note Ltd 2008). research is aimed at studying the clothing market in UK keeping in mind the constraints such as womens buying behaviour and the impact of value

clothing. Another important factor dealt through this research is the purchasing patterns by women during the recessionary period in the UK. 1.2 Aim

To investigate womens buying behaviour towards value clothing products during a recessionary period in the UK.



Based on the aim of the research, the following objectives were framed in order to interpret and analyze various factors involved in the research.

To investigate the preferences and spending patterns of women towards clothing in the UK

To evaluate womens attitude towards value clothing products To identify the major factors influencing womens buying behaviour in a recessionary period.

To draw conclusions on womens purchasing behaviour and also provide a series of rational recommendations for value clothing retailers in the UK to perform better during a recession.


Scope of research

The behaviour of women is not easy to understand and is actually the core concept of this research. The focus will be on the buying behaviour of women with respect to value clothing products. The scope of this research is based on the significant analyzes of the characteristics influencing buying behaviour and the impact of value clothing products.

A widespread literature review was looked at covering aspects such as consumer behaviour, decision making process, influences of clothing purchases and mainly the impact of recession on clothing. After having studied the literature of various authors the suitable methodology for this research was chosen. Triangulation research methodology, comprising of both quantitative and qualitative methods, is adopted as the most apposite method of research. 100 women respondents were randomly selected and quantitative data was obtained. Simultaneously a focus group consisting of 6 women participants were conducted to accomplish the aims and objectives of the research.

The primary findings of the research were critically discussed by relating the key aspects to the literature review. Finally, conclusions and

recommendations are drawn by analyzing the primary findings of the research supported by the secondary findings of the research. Moreover, the limitations of the research and future research findings are mentioned in detail at the end of the research.



Chapter 1 Background of the study This chapter gives a detailed background of the research and sets down the aim and objectives.

Chapter 2 Literature review

This chapter lays down the theoretical foundation of the research focusing on the general consumer behaviour and the factors contributing to the decision making process and also the factors influencing the buying behaviour of women throwing light on Maslows hierarchy model, branding and the marketing mix elements. This research also involves a detailed research on the ongoing recession and its impact on clothing buying behaviour of women.

Chapter 3 Research Methodology This chapter describes the approach that was used to develop and validate the aims and objectives of this research. The research methodology adopted for this research includes the research design, the sampling procedures, data collection methods and the data analysis procedures.

Chapter 4 Results and Findings This chapter contains the results and findings of the primary research. These findings emanate from the questionnaires and the focus group interviews which were carried out with among the samples. It also provides a summary of key findings in a tabulated format.

Chapter 5 Discussions This chapter draws together the findings of chapter 2 and 4. The theoretical implications of the research are discussed in this chapter comparing the primary findings that is sensitive to enhance the structure

of the research and its purpose. Finally a comprehensive analysis of the collected data is presented and summarized.

Chapter 6 Conclusions and Recommendations This chapter winds up the research by drawing conclusions on womens buying behaviour, recommendations for the value clothing retailers and recommendations for future research.


2.0 Introduction Prior to developing the research materials and analysis on which the current report is based, a review of relevant literature on consumer behaviour as well as the UK clothing market research was conducted. The womens buying behaviour towards value clothing products was emphasized taking into account the ongoing recession in the UK. 2.1 Clothing market in UK The researchers interest to study the evolution of retail clothing in UK until the rapid development has made this research important in this current scenario. Singleton (1997) describes the retail market for textile and clothing products in the UK as a market characterized by fierce competition and low margins. It is also evident why the growth will probably continue in the future. Competition is particularly intensive in the market for standardized garments, where large international buyers are constantly skimming the globe for optimal production conditions. Buyers of standardized clothing compete in their home market predominantly on costs, with fashion and design being less important (Infoshop 2008).

According to the department of Trade and Industry as in BERR (2008), the UK textile clothing manufacturing industry employs over 400,000 people and has an annual turnover of around 20bn. However, in common with other industrialized countries, the clothing industry has a diminishing workforce (Singleton 1997). This is due to the increasing threat by cheap imports from Hong Kong and India, and from newcomers to the export market such as Morocco, Romania, Turkey and Mauritius.

Table 1: Clothing retail price Indices in UK for period 2002 to 2007

Clothing Retail Price Indices in UK (2002-2007) 2002 All items Women's outerwea r Men's outerwea r Children's outerwea r Other clothing 96.7 96.8 90.7 90.3 90.8 87.5 105.2 103.5 100.2 98.4 97.5 97.3 78 74.9 71.8 71.4 69 68.6 176.2 2003 181.3 2004 186.7 2005 192.1 2006 198.1 2007 204.7







Source: Adapted from Mintel 2008 British supply of the retail market place is dominated by a handful of large manufacturers, but is also characterized by a myriad of small businesses that often subcontract to home-workers. While the UK textiles industry is highly concentrated, clothing production is more dispersed. There are, however, significant concentrations in the West Midlands, and North and East London in established ethnic minority communities (Infomat 2007).

According to the Telegraph (2008), the rapid expansion of retail outlets in the UK has dramatically changed the way of shopping among British consumers. The monetary value for shopping clothes has increased and continues to grow. in Hengst (2001) states that due to the latest developments retail marketing communication and information

technology, retailers are rushing to establish positions in an attempt to gain competitive advantage which has given people a lot more varieties of shopping preferences to choose at. 2.1.1 Market trends The productivity of clothing in UK is dramatically affected by the globalization trends which show cases a steady and persistent decline (Porter 1990). Simultaneously value retailers and supply chain for fashionable products remain busy on the high streets causing the UK clothing market to employ a large number of people who have a direct interest in the design, product development, supply, marketing and retailing of apparel in order to gain competitive advantage and consumer satisfaction (BERR 2008). Figure 1: Product trends in the UK clothing market in 2007

Source: Adapted from Mintel 2008 The womenswear in the clothing market has a substantial increase over menswear and childrenswear which has lead to the decline in the menswear and childrenswear clothing market. This attributes to high levels of

discounting and the trend towards casual, and less expensive, clothing. The high street retailers follow an important fashion trend by offering designer clothing products at budget prices. According to Woodward (2007) the regular shopping experience of women is that of the high street which meets a need where budget is the prime factor. Barletta (2006) says that Shoppers in their thirties and forties used to dress like their parents. Now many of them want to dress like their kids. Before the 1940s, clothes were made of wool, silk or cotton. The 1950s saw the introduction of synthetic fibers that would revolutionize the industry. Elastane microfibers, such as Lycra and Tactel, combine the qualities of stretch and control while being comfortable, durable and easy to care. Manufacturers now produce fabrics with other characteristics, such as antibacterial or moisturizing properties, even cellulite-reducing hosiery (Jones 2002). As a result of these changes in textile technology, prices have increased and therefore assisting in growing the value of the market. 2.1.2 Value retailing Something new is sweeping through the high streets, whereas five years ago, where consumers would never be seen, like, dead in a bargain clothes shop. Today the high street is flooded with clothes shopping bags and their proud owners boasting the bargains they have found (Bason 2008). Anyone would admit to buying clothes from a supermarket would have been inconceivable until recently. Power has shifted from the traditional middle market retailers to volume, price-led retailers and more premium niche brands. Clothing retailers like ASDA group, Matalan, Peacocks, Primark and Tesco fall under the nongrocery market enjoying strong levels of growth from 2002 to 2007 (Reuters 2008). Consumers are now moving towards the budget end of the market, which is targeted by companies such as Primark Stores Ltd, Peacocks Stores Ltd and Matalan PLC. Clothing sales soared with a result of fall in prices and trend towards fast fashion. Moving of new chains into UK and supermarkets adding clothing to their range of products resulted in the fall of womens clothing prices (Kavilanz 2008).

As prices fall, women consumers have responded by buying more clothes and by changing the way in which they buy them. Where the value retailers used to change their collections just twice each year, the pressure is now on to have something new in store every month, in response to rapidly changing trends. fast fashion is the new trend, giving shoppers the latest styles just six weeks after they first appeared on the catwalk, at prices that mean they can wear an outfit once or twice and then replace it (Cleanclothes 2008). According to Key Note (2008) the expenditure on women's clothing accounts for the largest proportion of household expenditure on clothing amounting to 12.17bn in 2007. The 8.8bn value clothing industry has been the engine of the UK clothing market over the past decade, but growth has slowed significantly over the past two years and there have been several casualties among the smaller operators as costs rise and debt levels become unsustainable (Malcolm 1999). Profitability and like-for-like sales growth have declined, and even the market leaders are finding times more challenging. The era of price deflation and high volume sales has come to an end and consumers are tiring of high consumption (Nytimes 2008). According to Jones (2002) value retailing forms an important part of growing retail markets, and clothing is no exception. Discounting is a strong feature of the value clothing market and seems to be still important. The value clothing had doubled in terms of sales between 1997 and 2007. It was worth 6.8bn in 2006 and 7.2bn in 2007 (Mintel 2008). Value retailing market in the UK broadly comprises of grocery and non-grocery retailers. Discounted prices need not necessarily mean low prices. Off-Price clothing is said to account for around 30% of the U.K clothing market. Both established and new retailers such as Marks and Spencer and Matalan planned to set up discount stores and enter the clothes shopping markets, although being an immature part of the UK retail market (Brightonbusiness 2008).

According to a report submitted by Mintel (2008) supermarket giants ASDA and Tesco have expanded their value clothing offer considerably and are posing problems for clothing specialists, especially Matalan, which had to work hard to remain competitive. Several other value retailers, including Primark, Matalan, TK Maxx and Peacocks, have sought to introduce a stronger fashion element into their ranges to distance themselves from the supermarkets. The value clothing retailers are striving hard to gain confidence and trying to be as fashionable as the high street, especially on womenswear (Guardian 2008). Slowing consumer spends and pressure on discretionary income due to rising interest rates provides positive market conditions for value retailers. This study aims to examine the nature of discount clothing retailers on the high street. These retailers can be broadly segmented into three groups: retailers whose core business is discount retailing on a national basis, those whose core business is discount retailing on a regional basis and those used as clearance outlets for mail order or multiple retailers. In the context of this study, discount clothing retailers will include both outlets solely dedicated to the sale of clothing and mixed retail businesses which include clothing as part of their product lines. 2.1.3 FUTURE TRENDS The UK's high-street clothing chains are being seriously affected by the supermarkets' invasion into their market. Most at risk are the middlemarket chains that operate between the discount retailers and the high-end outfitters. An outbreak of consolidation in this sector is likely, with mergers, takeovers and branch closures all being possibilities (Rachel 2007). According to the Marketing Week (2008), consumers are growing sick of seeing cheap clothes in their wardrobe. Instead, they are increasingly looking for quality, and at lower prices than they can find on the high street. The Internet is being used for price comparison and that will drive prices down further still. The clothing market aims to see much more of an investment in quality clothing and quality merchandise in the near future.

Further consolidation among UK clothing manufacturers is expected to be an ongoing feature of the market up to 2011 with the increase in importance and dominance of the people in UK. Up-and-coming privately owned companies could be acquired by larger groups, while some lossmaking subsidiaries of larger parents could be sold off or closed down (Artis 1992). The outsourcing of production requirements to low-cost producers is also expected to be an ongoing characteristic of the market for some time yet. The People's Republic of China is already a major supplier to the UK market and, over the next 5 years, clothing imports from the region are expected to increase further, contributing to the import activities (Roger and Paul 2004). 2.2 Consumer behaviour Consumers refer to the end users. Solomon et al. (2006) defines consumer behaviour as the process involved when individuals or groups select, use and purchase or dispose a product, service, ideas or experiences to satisfy their needs and desires. When someone wants to satisfy a primary necessity, they have a wide variety of products to chose which makes them more demanding when they go about buying the product. Hansen (2005) states consumer behaviour as an activity that includes mental and emotional activities in addition to physical activities and the study of how people buy, what they buy, when they buy and why they buy.

Kotler and Armstrong (2002) suggest that consumers respond in particular ways to different stimuli after they have processed those stimuli in their minds. For example, consumers are sometimes persuaded more by logical arguments, or more by emotional or symbolic appeals. It is a field of study where in the sellers market has disappeared and the buyers market has come up. Understanding these issues helps the companies to adapt their strategies by taking the consumer into consideration (Ofcomconsumerpanel 2008a). This study of consumer buying behaviour helps to understand the

reasons for making purchases, factors influencing consumer behaviour and the changing factors in the society. Consumer behaviour towards spending is changing as they begin to control what they want. Women are the primary shopper and account to 80% at the time of decision making (Mintel 2008). Many companies target at women and are looking at what women really want. The target woman is overworked, overstressed, time-crunched, multitasking, in a hurry and looking for a solution in every purchase action. Bartos (1989) puts forward that the behaviour of women is constantly changing and the retailers need to study their target audience frequently because it is common that the profile of their consumers change with the passage of the time. In support Berman and Evans (2001) propose that consumer behaviour involves interactions where certain aspects are necessarily to be studied such as what the consumer think, what the consumer want or what environmental events can influence in their behaviour. He also adds that it involves exchanges between human beings which are to be studied in detail by the retailers to gain competitive advantage. The study of consumer behaviours becomes very important to help understand the above factors and the ever changing needs and requirements of consumers which influence their behaviour towards purchasing clothes in the UK. 2.3 Maslows Theory Maslow's hierarchy of needs is predetermined in order of importance and is often depicted as a pyramid where human needs form a hierarchy; from basic physiological demands to the need for self-actualization. The higher needs in this hierarchy only come into focus when the lower needs in the pyramid are met. Lower levels needs of an individual must be reasonably satisfied before attending higher level needs. Figure 2: Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

Source: Derived from Kotler et al. (2005) 2.3.1 Physiological needs Physiological needs include the most basic needs that are required to survive. It motivates the individual to improve their feelings to establish ability of satisfaction. Of all the basic needs, clothing is one the most basic needs without which an individual cannot survive. Clothes take account of the activities of the human body and not interfere with body movements. Clothes must be simple to put on and off and adaptable to a variety of activities

2.3.2 Safety needs Clothing has become an obligatory part of the society and for individuals. Technological developments in the field of clothing products and merchandising attract individuals and persuade them to purchase. Clothing which emerged as a protective item in the early stages is now moving towards fashion and design. 2.3.3 Belongingness and love needs Humans have a desire to belong to groups: clubs, work groups, religious groups, family, gangs, etc. thus relating to the social needs that recognize them. Clothing products is made use of in all aspects of life and the usage is said to be influenced by groups. For instance, purchasing behaviour of clothing products are influenced by clothing retailers and the range of

products that they sell (Cox and Brittain 2000). People spend time in purchasing for their clothes as individuals and also in groups. 2.3.4 Esteem needs When the first three classes of needs are satisfied, the needs for esteem can become dominant. Esteem needs are of two types; result from competence of a task and recognition of a task. Some individuals are satisfied with their purchases and some are satisfied when it is being recognized by others. Factors like quality, fashion and store patronage helps to fulfill ones esteem needs. For example, people purchasing in M&S are very much satisfied with the quality of clothing products that they buy but arent satisfied with the quality offered by Primark (Birtwistle and Tsim 2005). When needs are satisfied, people feel self-confident and valuable. When needs are frustrated, they feel inferior, weak, helpless and worthless. 2.3.5 Self-actualization needs When all of the foregoing needs are satisfied, the needs for selfactualization are activated. Maslow's basic position is that when an individual becomes more self-actualized they tend to become wiser. Unlike lower level needs, this need is never fully satisfied. New opportunities continue to grow simultaneously to psychological growth. Warren and Mark (1997) suggest that Maslow's ultimate conclusion that the highest levels of self-actualization are magnificent in their nature as one of his most important contributions to the study of consumer behaviour. 2.4 Consumer decision making process Buyer decision processes are the decision making processes undertaken by consumers in regard to a potential market transaction before, during, and after the purchase of a product or service (Chris 1993). Decision making is the cognitive process of selecting a course of action from among multiple alternatives. Common examples include shopping, deciding what to eat. Decision making is said to be a psychological construct. In the past, investigations on consumer decision-making issues were mainly focused on









consumers may sometimes typically rely on simple strategies, rather than going through a series of steps or processes rationally when they made purchase decisions. There are 5 stages involved in the consumer decision making process of which actual purchasing is only one stage of the process. All consumer decisions do not always include all 5 stages, as it is also determined by the degree of complexity.

Figure 3: Decision making process

Source: Adapted from Orren et al. (2005) 2.4.1 Problem recognition The decision making process starts with the recognition of the problem. The consumer decides on what product to buy and what not to. Angel et al. (1990) state that problem recognition as a process of differentiation between the desired state and the actual condition. A consumer perceives a product to be ideal but the actual state of the product may differ. They lack knowledge regarding the identification of purchase options, decision of products to satisfy their need and expectations towards products presentation and description which leads to returning of the goods purchased (Peter et al. 1999). The question that is raised is how does a consumer decide on what product or service to buy? Women customers have different needs and retail

employees can be at their most effective when they meet the requirements of individual customers. Change in desired state can occur due to reference groups and originality seeking behaviour of the consumers. Change in actual state of affairs can occur due to stock out situations, arousal of needs, and post purchase evaluation. This differentiation at the time of purchasing a product is termed as problem recognition (Cox and Brittain 2000). 2.4.2 Information search Information search is made by the consumer for the solution of problem recognised in the previous step. A successful search fetches possible alternatives to the consumer. Information search is of two types, internal and external. Internal search is what the mind thinks. The consumer recalls the known brands at the time of purchase. External search happens when the consumer needs more information which involves solution from various sources: friends, family, advertising, salespeople etc (Chris 1993). seek Consumer behaviour is rapidly changing as buyers are researching their purchases before spending their money. Women in particular information before purchase and then decide on where to buy and are based on the awareness of the product or service that is offered by a particular store. 2.4.3 Evaluation of alternatives How consumers compare the products found during the information search? The next step in the consumer buying process is the evaluation and selection of alternatives based on the gathered information. Consumers do not consider all brands available in the market for evaluation. They establish criteria based on the price, appearance and service to shortlist a set of choices on which evaluation is done. This is known as the evoked set which is defined as the set of brands that a consumer bears in mind while making a purchase decision (Peter et al. 1999). Clothing choice criteria are defined as the intrinsic (inherent to the product) and extrinsic (productrelated, but not part of the physical product) product attributes that associated with desired benefits or incurred costs as consumers make buying decision among clothing alternatives. Intrinsic product attributes











characteristics of the product, while extrinsic ones are those that are exerted by manufacturers or retailers and do not form the component parts of the product. Different criteria may have varied importance in every consumers mind. While consumers would assign high importance on the criteria that can really reflect their underlying characteristics and experiences (Forney et al. 1999). 2.4.4 Purchase decision How and where consumers make the purchase? After evaluation of alternatives consumer go for the next step of selection of outlets and purchasing of products. It is in this step where the consumer decides about issues like where to buy, when to buy and how much quantity to buy. The consumer also makes a final decision regarding the brand of purchase by seeking customer service which includes negotiation and payment for the product purchased. The critical characteristics of women apparel can always determine its ultimate purchase acceptance or rejection by consumers. The criteria that consumers use in clothing purchase decisions have long been regarded as an important issue for investigation in many previous consumer behavioural studies. Eckman et al. (1990) have identified many product attributes and criteria that are critical for fashion consumers in clothing purchase, and basically all these can be summarized under intrinsic and extrinsic categories. 2.4.5 Purchase evaluation The final step in the consumer buying process is the post purchase decision. Williams (2002) implies that the post purchase decision arises from the concept of cognitive dissonance, an uncomfortable feeling or stress caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The consumer feels that an alternate would be preferable for the purchased product which leads to switching of brands. This can be reduced by warranties, after sale

communication etc.The outcome of the post-purchase evaluation stage is a level of customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction, which is determined by the customer's overall feelings about the effectiveness of the treatment and the experience. The number on effect on customer satisfaction is the retailers expectations. Most consumers dissatisfaction is a consequence of not encouraging accurate customer expectations at the product evaluation stage. In order to avoid this, we have to make sure that the entire system, from the customer entering the store for a purchase to the final sale, sets up the right expectations (Orren et al. 2005). Once the retailer feels confident about customers' needs and concerns, the next challenge is to decide how to present the information to the customers in a way that supports the decision-making process. This is as much science as art. It is common for retailers to inflate their abilities in this regard. It's been my experience that every retail store can benefit from constructive criticism and training in promoting the right message. An understanding of the shoppers behaviour adds more clarity to the whole decision making process which is discussed in the preceding part of the review. 2.5 Principal influences on consumer behaviour 2.5.1 Demographic factors Needs and wants of the consumers differ with respect to their age groups, occupation and income. People belonging to different age groups tend to share a set of values and cultural experiences. Women are keen enough to gather information on aspects of life. For example, women in the working community keep themselves updated whereas the retired women are likely to keep themselves informed (Ofcomconsumerpanel 2008a). According to (Huddleston et al. 1993) women consumers ageing between 16 and 30 involve in most of the clothes shopping which instead has lead the clothing retailers to concentrate on age related products. Accordingly

Amanda and Brigitte (2003) report states that women consumers ageing above forty are disengaged in most of the purchase activities in the UK. According to Evans (1989) it is the occupation and income which has a major influence of their buying behaviour, in comparison to the age group of women. Huddleston et al. (1993) also found that women shoppers were older and earned higher income than male shoppers. orientation, Moreover, channel education, knowledge, convenience orientation, experience

perceived distribution utility, and perceived accessibility were assumed to be strong predictors of clothes buying status; frequent buyer, occasional or non-buyer.

2.5.2 Psychological factors Perception Perception is the process of selecting, organizing and interpreting information inputs to produce meaning whereby, an individual selects data or information from the environment organizes it and then draws significance. Perception is basically a cognitive or thinking process and individual activities; emotions, feelings etc. are based on his or her perceptions of their surroundings or environment. Perception being an intellectual and cognitive process will be subjective in nature (Thang and Tan 2003). Positive perception towards a particular brand or product helps the company to retain their customers, and especially in case of clothing retail stores the perception plays vital role in their development and it is made essential for the company to gain positive perception for their sustainability (Solomon 1996). Positive perceptions for clothing products can be gained through proper packaging, ambience, customer service, product availability, price and quality of the product. Motivation

Motivation is based on needs and goals. The degree of relevance, or involvement, with the goal, is critical to how motivated the consumer is to search for information about a product. Uncovering consumer motives are one of the prime tasks of marketers, who try to teach consumer segments why their product will best fulfill their needs (Baker 1995). Solomon (1996) explains motivation as a process that starts with some kind of motive or need, the drive or action to satisfy that need, and the fulfillment of the need. Understanding motivation is crucial to marketing. There are many complex motives behind every purchasing decision. It is understood from the words of Baker (1995) that the underlying motives of consumers are different from the stated motive and have multiple motives: manifest and latent. Manifest is when the product is known to the person and freely admitted. Latent is when the product is not known to the person and that they are very reluctant to admit. Attitudes Attitudes are defined as a mental predisposition to act that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor (Roger 1984). Attitude describes a persons relatively consistent evaluations, feelings, and tendencies towards a product or service and if fitted into a pattern, changing may require making many difficult adjustments. The role of attitude in marketing can be explained in terms of its importance in prediction, diagnostic value and also as relatively inexpensive information that is easily obtained. The different functions of attitude which is tabulated below: Table 2: Different functions of attitude

Types Utilitarian function

Functions Desire to achieve practical benefit Related to basic principles of reward and punishment Value derived from the success of finding the needed product Expresses central value or self-concept Forms attitude not because of benefits instead of what the product depicts. Relevant to lifestyle which cultivates interest Attitudes are formed to protect from threats Helps to maintains self-esteem Forces individuals to cope up with anxieties generated by internal conflicts Attitudes are formed as a result of a need for order, structure and meaning It supplies a standard frame of reference to simplify the perception of a complex environment. Source: Derived from Solomon et al. (2006)

Value-expressive function

Ego-defensive function

Knowledge function

An attitude can form in several different ways, depending on the particular hierarchy of effects in operation. It can occur because of classical conditioning, in which an attitude object, such as the name, or it can be formed through instrumental conditioning, in which consumption of the attitude object is reinforced. Women in the UK evaluate the knowledge based on their likes and dislikes of towards a clothing product before making a purchase action. Women consumers generally purchase new products that are associated with a favorably viewed brand name. The attitude dominates women in selecting or for buying a clothing product due to the availability of many domestic brands and also the entry of international brands in the UK clothing market. Attitudes of the consumers can mostly transform when they receive new information from others or media.

Their favorable attitude toward the products is frequently the result of repeated satisfaction with other products produced by the same company. Women make trial purchases of new product categories in which they have little personal involvement. If they find the purchased product to be satisfactory, then they are likely to develop a favorable attitude toward it. Life is too complicated to predict what attitudes will persist and which will change but early socialization experiences do shape attitudes of women. Life style Marketers also measure lifestyles, which are patterns of behaviour which includes purchasing activities, interests, and opinions of buyers. These lifestyles can provide some additional insight into consumers consumption patterns. Some marketing researchers use Psychographic techniques that involve all of these factors to predict consumer behaviour (Evans (1989). In terms of lifestyle, the values traditionally associated with women consumers dominate: open-mindedness, desire to travel, throwing parties, and the importance given to friends. Not surprisingly, fashion-related items highlight significant differences from the rest of the clothing retailers in the UK. In a nutshell, being hip and fashionable is above all a way for opinion clothing retailers to feel different; much more than choosing a dress code to show that one belongs to a given social group (Gutman and Mills 1992) 2.5.3 Social factors Reference groups A reference group is defined as an actual or imaginary individual or group conceived of having significant relevance upon an individuals evaluations, aspirations, or beliefs (Solomon 1996). It consists of all the groups that have direct or indirect influence on an individuals attitude or behaviour that can be symbolic or actual. Childers & Rao (1992) examined reference groups as an influence to clothing choices and buying behaviour. Women are constantly faced with

influences from reference groups. Reference groups expose women to new behaviour and lifestyles. Influence in attitudes and self-concept creates pressure for women and this conformity may affect actual product and brand choices Social class Social class can be defined as the division of members of a society into a hierarchy of distinct status classes, so that members of each class have relatively the same status and the members of all other classes have either more or less status (Terrell 2002). Empirical evidence shows that a significant relationship exists between social participation and clothing behaviour pattern, especially for women. Women who are in a lower social economic status than their counterparts could be an irrelevant factor. The main characteristics of Social class are: Women within the same social class tend to behave more alike Social class is hierarchical Social class is not measured by a single variable but is measured as a weighted function of ones occupation, income, wealth, education, status, prestige, etc. Social class is continuous rather than concrete, with individuals able to move into a higher social class or drop into a lower class. Social environment is represented by social influences such as reference group, culture, and social class. The social environment can be seen as the encounter in which clothing is considered as having meaning and values. Environmental influences, subcultures, and individual differences interact in determining consumers decision processes (Angel et al. 1990). The situational exogenous factors and clothing orientation factors had the most effect on the womens selection of daily clothing. Purchasing patterns

Buying behaviour patterns explain how and where a consumer shops. These patterns can be divided into the type of stores where a consumer elects to shop (i.e. store patronage) and the time and frequency that a consumer uses when shopping. Store patronage is the consumers selection for a shopping outlet. Patronage patterns are theorized based on consumer characteristics including social factors (Terrell 2002). Patronage behaviour is influenced by a variety of characteristics at each stage in the decision process. Numerous studies have been conducted to explain patronage behaviour patterns for a variety of consumer types and specifically that clothing store patronage is related to fashion involvement for women consumers. Women consumers, who use clothing to enhance self-esteem, tend to shop more in speciality and better department stores. Similarly, buying behaviour is influenced by benefits sought and the social environment of the consumers (Dunne et al. 1995). The time and frequency of shopping can be divided into four categories or time/frequency combinations of shopping: beginning of the season, clearance, as needed, and impulsive (Gutman and Mills 1992). The relationship between time and frequency for clothing buying and fashion involvement was found to be significant and also positively related where the majority of women carefully watched their clothing expenditures and frequently purchased clothing that are on sale or discounted. 2.6 Marketing mix elements Marketing is more than sales which includes a set of activities to get the attention of potential customers and motivate them to buy again and again. Marketing theory is made up of 4 Ps which helps defining the price, product, promotion and the place to maintain relationship with the customers. 2.6.1 Product Product is the thing or service that is offered to the customers. The product should evaluate a number of things including the packaging, quality,

features, warranties and also the brand name (Kotler et al. 2005). Retailers should understand the importance of the product from the customers point of view to maintain their brand image. In the maturing UK clothing market with stiff competition, retailers try to outperform from one another by offering great deals, cheaper products and also by delivering excellent sales and after-sales service. A wide range of products are now available for women consumers at affordable prices in turn guiding them to choose the best available products based on their needs and requirements. The UK clothing market is said to be advanced in terms of technology by providing a variety of design and materials, making it popular among consumers based on seasonality. Be it women students, women employees or retired women, everyone has their own choice of clothing products to choose at. Growing at a good pace, the UK clothing market for women is said to scale heights in the near future. 2.6.2 Price Previous research suggests that women consumers prefer imported and fashionable clothing products and they do not blindly buy them. Rather, they look for quality at a good price (Baker 1995). It is also evident that the UK clothing domestic market is dominated by the increase in imports from other countries. With moderate or even matching quality and far lower prices, imported products are becoming strong competitors for local products in the UK (Smith and Rupp 2003). Women consumers are costconscious and easily persuaded by price changes due to which the clothing retailers find difficult to market their products, despite spending high costs on advertising and promotion. 2.6.3 Place Place refers to the distribution channels used to get your product to your customers. The place of purchase is another important aspect of the marketing mix elements. The importance of place cannot be avoided during a clothing purchase action (Watson and Spence 2007). Awareness and availability of clothing products is a must for the consumers in the UK so as to make them reach the product. The clothing retailers are struggling to

make their product reach the end users in various means, of which the place plays a vital role (Keynote 2008). Availability of clothes from different means has increased compared to the previous years with the increase in number of clothing retailers and also the usage of internet shopping. 2.6.4 Promotion Promotion is termed as a form of communication of certain message using various strategic methods in order to reach the target audience and also to achieve the organizational objectives. Clothing brands benefit from main media advertising by their manufacturers and also from retailers promotions. Branding is particularly important in clothing where extensive advertising is seen in the daily press, lifestyle and fashion magazines, on television and on outside posters (Sternquist 1998). Much use is also made of personalities such as models, actresses and sports stars. For example, Debenhams Retail PLC concentrated its advertising expenditure on lingerie, spending 91,000 on the promotion of Gossards Ultrabra alone (Telegraph 2008). It is not particularly appropriate to consider the advertising expenditure of department stores, since these stores are promoting so many diverse product ranges. Nevertheless, it should be noted that any advertising that encourages consumers through the doors of a particular department store stands to benefit the clothing sector where there is a high element of impulse buying (Guardian 2008). 2.7 Elucidation of brands Branding is the process of establishing an identity for a product with an intention to differentiating from that of a competitors product. Branding becomes essential in creating an identity where customers select among many competitive products Cheryl and Hilary (2002). Clothing market is not an exception to branding. With the increase in the number of clothing retail outlets and supermarkets, UK is witnessing a huge variety of brands. Thus it is necessary to understand how brand image, identity and loyalty influences clothing shopping behaviour in the current clothing market, which is very competitive.

2.7.1 Brand image Consumers are influenced by non-functional attributes during clothing purchases and it is found that the brand of a product plays a dominant role in the consumer decision-making process. Consumers are aware of their own self-concept, and thus they use brand image as a criterion in evaluating products (Sternquist 1998). Brand building drastically reduces marketing investments and always account for more stable business. Accordingly Rooney (1995) states that strong brand needs lower and lower levels of incremental investment to sustain itself over time. A new and unknown player will have to spend two to four times more than the market leader to achieve the same share of mind. 2.7.2 Brand identity Clothing, as a form of nonverbal communication, reflects the wearers identity. According to Cheryl and Hilary (2002), the analysis of fashion, dress and clothing tends to crop up in a number of academic contexts such as social and economics historians who used it as a barometer of social change and patterns of consumption. Cultural theorists have interpreted it as a site of complex discursive practices; art historians have analyzed dress as a part of the visual culture of a specific period; and design historians have viewed it as intrinsic to the processes of cultural production and consumption. 2.7.3 Brand loyalty Mitchell (1997) described good relationship marketing as the act of gathering customers very tightly around a brand, and building customer loyalty by focusing on the desires of customers. Consumers those are highly involved with both the product category and with particular brand are termed as brand loyalty. Women consumers in the UK tend to use brands to express how they are similar to members of their in-group because they value interdependence and conformity (Solomon 1996). Overall, women consumers use a brand name as a symbol to show their solidarity with one another and prefer well-known foreign brands to local brands.

2.8 Recession in the UK Recession is a slowdown in an economic activity characterized by less consumer spending where people are struck in terms of money. The attributes that occur simultaneously include high rates of unemployment, high interest rates and less corporate profits. Recession may result in falling prices (deflation) or a sharp rise in prices (inflation) or a combination of rising prices and inactive economic growth (stagflation). In simple terms depression is a decline in GDP of more than 10%. A sustained recession tends to turn into a depression (Artis 1992). Between 1990 and 1993 the UK experienced a period of sharp economic decline, where output declined and claimant unemployment increased to nearly 3 million. The UK fell into a sharp slump in the second half of 1990. Using the technical definition of recession, this involved two successive quarters of negative growth (George 2008). It had less than average impact in areas such as food retailing, fast food, restaurants, pubs and hairdressing and cleaning and catering.

Figure 4: UK GDP at Current market prices

Source: Adapted from Marketoracle 2008

The central government policy in the UK makes the major difference between the recession during 1990 and the 2008 recession (Guardian 2008). During the 1990 recession, interest rates were raised and the economy was overheated with high inflation and external balance of payments deficit. Current, interest rates have slashed with inflation on the rise and as a result the UK economy is experiencing a systematic slow-down with credit and liquidity contraction (Telegraph 2008). According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS 2008), the UK's economy will shrink by 2.5% in 2009, a significantly worse year than any experienced either in the recession during the 1990s or the 1970s. In the UK, there does appear to be a real advantage in a business as usual strategy, i.e. maintaining marketing support and the introduction of new improved products. According to Jill (1988) recession does not change fundamental consumer behaviour much, at least not for products and services that are everyday items. However, a report by BBC (2008) states that they do change the marketing activity of the competitors quoting that advertising spend tends to react dramatically to changes in economic activity. Consumer behaviour is contracting far too drastically during recessions and expanding far too fast during booms. There is opportunity in going against this pattern, by being more consistent. 2.8 1 Impact of recession on clothing buying behaviour Underneath the day-to-day uncertainty lie rather consistent patterns which suggest that even if consumers want to, they find it difficult to change behaviour. In hard times, consumers are forced to re-evaluate how they consume, providing opportunities and challenges as loyalties change (Telegraph 2008). The big environmental constraint for consumers in a recession is clearly that they have less money or access to money. However even in a severe

recession the economy is much the same size as it was in previous years (Timesonline 2008). Many consumers have much disposable income as ever. Consumers are particularly conscious of the impact of rises in energy and food prices. This suggests that, in a belt tightening situation, consumers find it easy to make changes in non-regular behaviours rather modifying their day-to-day lives substantially (Christopher 2000). The easiest way may be is to simply postpone expensive discretionary purchases like overseas holidays, new cars, and expensive electronics. Even these categories do not collapse in recessions.

During the 1990s recession there was considerable variability in the UK clothing sector performance. The leading clothing retailers increased their advertising spend as more importance was given to branding and product differentiation to gain market share. The use of short lead in strategic discounted advertising campaigns in national newspapers blossomed for the first time. Offers were aimed at both the high streets and supermarkets. But the public soon wised up to this strategy and were prepared to trade certainty for price and waited until the lowest rate offers appeared. To counter the reduction in revenues and maintain margins, tight cost control measures were adopted across most clothing retailers (Terry and Jayne 1994). Many other clothing retailers were forced to adopt more drastic measures as pressure on cash flows worsened. Even the UKs leading clothing retailers like M&S and John Lewis were not resistant to recession, and suffered the humiliation of publicly offering discounts in an attempt to increase volume (Polo-shirts 2008). Its well-known that women have a considerable amount of spending power, both in terms of independent purchases and influence over the family spending. Though individual purchasing power varies considerably, average annual spending is around 2000, rising among older women as they start working or receiving pensions. Women are often less sensitive to financial crisis then men as they operate themselves in a cashbased economy.

Expenditure on clothing, as well as having to compete with other durable and non-durable household goods, is also threatened by increased expenditure on leisure, travel and financial services, including savings. As the UK economy falls deeper into the crisis, there may be cutbacks on more expensive purchases (Christopher 2000). In harder financial times it is more valuable than ever to know what is really important to consumers and is important to identify what products they will not do without. Priorities obviously vary dramatically by gender and age: men spend more of their money on electronics, home entertainment and takeaway food, while women invest more in their appearance (clothes and cosmetics). Currently, clothing retailers are battling for custom as banks rein in lending and consumer spending slows. The economy contracted 0.6% in the third quarter, the most since 1990 (Marketoracle 2008). A survey by the Guardian (2008) and the IICM (2007), found that 86% of 1,003 people expect to live more cheaply next year. The clothing retailers are seemed doing a lot of discounting that they arent set up to do and are educating their customers to wait until discount days. Clothing retailers who dont have a strong value proposition in the market may find it difficult next year. Actions around spending wisely, cutting back and no frills consumption are those most likely to increase over the coming year (Terry and Jayne 1994). The more anxious consumers are, the more likely they are to make specific changes to their consumption behaviour in order to save money (Jill 1988). This literature review has shown that there is a body of work that focuses on womens buying behaviour. The nature of the UK clothing market makes the structuring of a review problematic as the papers and articles cited often overlap in their themes and content.


3.0 Introduction

The aim of this research is to understand the womens buying behaviour towards low value clothing products during a recessionary period in the UK. In this chapter, the methodology of the study is well presented. The purpose of research, plan of data collection, organizing and integrating of data is provided in detail so that the aim of the research can be achieved. The research process is illustrated and the methods are presented and explained. A quantitative research methodology (questionnaire) is adopted which is supported by a qualitative research (focus group). Conceivable reasons for the adoption of the suitable research methods used for data collection and analysis are provided in detail. 3.1 Research Design Research design is the controlling plan for a marketing research study in which the methods and procedures for collecting and analyzing the information to be collected is specified. It provides the glue that holds the research project together (Aaker 2007). A design is used to structure the research, to show how all of the major parts of the research project work together to try to address the main research questions. 3.1.1 Purpose of research The general purpose of a research is basically three-fold: Exploration, description and explanation. Investigating something new of which is little known or to prepare for a further study is called an exploratory research. Descriptive research describes data and characteristics about the population or the phenomenon being studied answering the questions who, what, where, when and how. Explanatory research deals in finding any particular behaviour in the market (Creswell 1998). This research is based on the investigation into womens buying behaviour towards low value clothing products during a recessionary period in the UK, thus said to be an exploratory research. Exploratory research aims for basic knowledge within the research purpose (Naresh 2005). The purpose of this study is to decide and demonstrate the character of the problem by collecting data through exploration.

3.1.2 Unit of analysis The unit of analysis refers to what or who which is being studied for the research. Unit of analysis can be units of observation which includes certain groups, organization and so on (Aaker 2007). For this research, 100 women aging from 16 to 60 were randomly selected which consisted of students, employed, unemployed, housewives and even retired persons. The data was collected through distribution of questionnaires personally, through emails and some were collected through telephone. Accordingly a focus group interview was conducted to collect data in order to validate the data collected through questionnaire. 3.1.3 Focus and time of research The focus on this research is on the characteristics of women living in the UK and the orientation of attitude and perception on their buying behaviour towards low value clothing products. Apart from researching on buying behaviour in a customary time period, the ongoing recession in UK was chosen as the time period for this research to study the buying behaviour of women towards low value clothing products. 3.2 Research Process A research process consists of the inductive or deductive way of drawing conclusions, and the qualitative and quantitative methods of investigating information (Cryer 1996). According to Baumgartner and Steenkamp (2001), inductive and deductive are the two different approaches that a researcher can choose while conducting a study. An inductive approach is oriented towards discovery and is signified by the researcher constructing theories based on empirical studies and conclusions. A deductive approach is descriptive and enables the researcher via theory to study and empirical situation and to determine the theorys validity. 3.2.1 Quantitative research

Quantitative research method is being opted as the most suitable mean of research for this study which leads for a better understanding of the research problem. This research started with a literature review with complementarities method. The researcher finds quantitative research to be an advantage because it Provides the fundamental connection between empirical based on the buying behaviour and these complementarities are evaluated by collecting data through questionnaire

observation and mathematical expression of collected data. Helps to collect various ranges of data from a huge number of respondents. Identifies trends and correlations to get an idea of the attitudes of large numbers of people.

Helps in arriving comprehensive answers through the statistical analysis of results which is legitimate (Graham and Michael 1998).

The process of collecting data is very hard as the theoretical part is based on the collected data. The collected data must be able to deliver answers for the main questions based on the aim and objectives of the research. 3.2.2 Qualitative research This research also involves a certain amount of qualitative research. For this purpose the researcher chose focus group as a tool to collect qualitative data. Being an exploratory research the qualitative research is of great use which helps to put forward open-ended questions and giving the respondents an opportunity to respond in their own words rather than forcing them to choose from fixed responses (Holliday 2007). Qualitative research aims to gather an in-depth understanding of the buying behaviour of women and the reasons that govern their buying behaviour. The researcher finds qualitative research to be an advantage because it

Investigates how and why the buying behaviour is influenced. Helps to gain insight into women's attitudes, behaviour, concerns, motivations, aspirations, culture or lifestyles.

Provides complex textual descriptions of how women experience a given research issue (Denzin and Lincoln 2000). Table 3: Comparison of Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies

Source: Adapted from Kotler et al. (2006) 3.2.3 Triangulation method Triangulation method refers to the use of more than one research method to investigate the research questions to enhance confidence in subsequent findings (Saunders et al 1998). Triangulation method is being adopted for this research as both quantitative and qualitative methods have been used for collecting data from the respondents. Figure 5: Triangulation method

Source: Derived from Creswell (2002) Saunders et al (1998) assumes triangulation method as that of the sets of data derived from different research methods can be unambiguously compared and regarded as equivalent in terms of their capacity to address a research question. The researcher finds triangulation method to be an advantage because it It helps to check the validity of the findings by cross-checking the data collected by one method with the other.

It adds sumptuousness and richness to the research questions. Avoids weakness of one method by using a second method that is strong.

It helps in greater understanding the population for better results. The negligence of respondents in not answering the open-ended questions of the questionnaire was overcome while conducting focus groups. With the help of the Triangulation method, the researcher was able to attempt to map out, or explain more fully, the richness and complexity of womens behaviour by studying it from more than one standpoint. 3.3 Methods of data collection 3.3.1 Secondary Data

Secondary data refers to any data collected by a person or organization other than the researcher(s) of the data (Robert and Barbara 2002). Secondary data is also used as a background for primary data that allows seeing where the primary data 'fits in' to the proposal of study (Saunders et al 1998). Harvey and Myers (1995) suggest that secondary data provides validation for primary data that allows assessing the quality and consistency of the primary data. In some situations when data collection is not possible, for reasons of access, cost, or time, secondary data would be desirable. Secondary data are usually available cheap and collection of data is quicker and easier. Simultaneously secondary data have little knowledge of the processing methods employed and the researcher rarely have access to the original data. The fact is that secondary data are likely to be pre-processed that eliminates the time-consuming analysis stage of the research (Pervez and Gronhaugh 2002). He also quotes that willingness to use Secondary data appropriately is a hallmark of good research. Data from various sources like libraries (books, academic journals and magazines); journals and articles (periodicals, publications of economic indicators) and databases (census data, company data, statistical abstracts and annual reports) have been used for gathering secondary data for this research. Secondary data of this research was mainly used to understand the past evaluations and research and as a reference to specialized literature. It also helped in identifying the strengths and weakness of different methodologies used in previous studies.

3.3.2 Primary Data Primary data refers to the data collected by the immediate researcher(s) of the data expressly for the experiment or survey being conducted. It is this data that is normally referred to collecting data. Primary data research is undertaken where the secondary sources cannot provide the detail of information required to solve a particular problem or to aid sufficiently the decision making (Graham and Michael 1998). Primary research involves the

collection of new data, often directly from customers. The used data collection method for this research is mostly primary data supported by secondary data. Questionnaire A questionnaire is a set of questions for gathering information from individuals. It is also a formalised schedule of an assembly of carefully formulated questions. It can be administered through mail, telephone, using face-to-face interviews, as handouts, sending e-mails or through Webbased questionnaires (Harvey and Myers 1995). Questionnaire survey was employed as the tool to collect primary information from women consumers to assess the buying behaviour towards low value clothing products during the recessionary period. Questionnaire method of data collection served as an advantage in gathering data from different age groups of women living in the UK. Figure 6: Questionnaire development process

Source: Derived from Kumar (2005) Advantages of Questionnaire The primary advantage of questionnaire is the lower cost in terms of money. It helps to reach the respondents more effectively than with interviews.

The questionnaire provides a standardized data-gathering procedure and minimizes the effects of potential human errors. It converts research objectives into specific questions (Cryer 1996). Disadvantages of Questionnaire

Non-returns of questionnaires may occur when questions are not answered by the respondents. Misinterpretation occurs when the respondents does not understand either the instructions or the questions and become confused. It is also a time consuming method of data collection. Another disadvantage of using a questionnaire is inability to check on the validity of the answer (Cryer 1996)

The secret in preparing a questionnaire is to take advantage of the strengths of questionnaire like lower costs, more representative samples, standardization and privacy while minimizing the number of non-returns, misinterpretation and validity problems. Questionnaire content The content of questionnaire refers to the main subject matter of the research. The questionnaire for this research consists of 16 different questions (refer Appendix 1). Questions were carefully put into words so that the respondents do not find difficulty in understanding or answering the questions. Questionnaire format The format of questionnaire refers to the structure and appearance which includes how the questions are framed, their appearance on the page and the form used for answering (Kumar 2005). The format of questionnaire used in this research is a mixed method containing open-ended and closeended questions. With open-ended questions the respondents are given the chance to freely express their opinion without asking them any structured questions. With close-ended questions the respondents are restricted to answer or choose among the given set of alternatives.

The questionnaire also contains a combination of both close-ended and open-ended questions, so as to validate the answers given by the respondents. The researcher found this to be a very useful part during the analysis. For example, Question no: 9 asks the respondents whether recession has affected the way they shop for their clothes, giving a closeended choice of Yes/No. Below this an open-ended question was asked to mention in what way it has affected them. This format of questions helps the researcher in getting the qualitative data along with the quantitative data. Moreover, it validates the acquired quantitative data with the help of the qualitative data. Breakdown of questionnaire Questionnaires were prepared as an approach of quantitative data collection method consisting of two pages. An introduction of the researcher was given in the beginning of the questionnaire along with the research title. The questionnaire contains 16 different questions and the breakdown of the questionnaire was based on the general buying behaviour, recession and effect of recession including 2 personal questions. Questions 1 to 5 are associated with the general buying behaviour of people towards clothing products before recession. Questions 6 to 9 are associated with the ongoing recession and its effect on clothes shopping Questions 10 to 14 are associated with the clothing buying behaviour of women during a recessionary period. Questions 15 and 16 are associated with the personal details of the respondents such as age and occupation. Respondents who were interested in participating in a focus group on this research were asked to give their name and contact details after filling the questionnaire or after answering for the questionnaire. Pilot study

A pilot study is a pre-test of questionnaire that aims to examine the length, wording, comprehensiveness and other potential problems that might arise when completing the main questionnaire. A pilot study is to develop, adapt, or check the feasibility of techniques, to determine the reliability of measures, and/or to calculate how big the final sample needs to be (Dewalt and Dewalt 2002). The pilot should have the same sampling procedure and techniques as in the main study (Baumgartner and Steenkamp, 2001).

The pilot study was conducted with 10 questionnaires among women consumers of age ranging from 16 to 60. The aim of this pilot study was To find out the response level of the consumers towards the questions. To find out whether the respondents found it difficult to answer all the questions. To find out the feasibility of the study.

The respondents were asked to indicate the difficulties in understanding or answering the questions. They were also asked to provide other suggestions on the improvement of the questionnaire. The researcher through the pilot study was able to make the necessary changes in the questionnaire which enabled to proceed to the main study of the research. Sampling Sampling is the process of selecting units (people or organizations) from a population of interest so that by studying the sample in order to fairly generalize the results back to the population from which they were chosen (Pervez and Gronhaugh 2002). The population for this research is women living in UK. The sample size is 100 women from 16 to 60 year olds. The researcher divided the population into 4 different target groups: age less than 20, aging 21 to 30, aging 31 to 40 and aging above 40. The women population selected for this research consists of students, employed, unemployed, housewives and even retired persons. The advantage of choosing different groups is the ability to use and find different evidence and motivations to find the solution for the main problem (Creswell 2002).

Respondents were randomly selected from women consumers who were shopping at various shopping centers including clothing retail outlets and supermarkets. Women consumers who were visually estimated to be above 16 years old were approached and asked to respond to the questions. The participation was entirely voluntary and there was no compulsion. Focus group interviews A focus group interview is a discussion with a small group of people on a specific topic. According to Morgan (1997) focus group interview is indeed an interview rather than a discussion. Patton (2002) argues focus group to be neither a problem-solving session nor a decision making group. The hallmark of a focus group is the clear use of the group interaction to collect high quality data and insights that would be less accessible without the interaction found in a group. The researcher conducted focus group with a set of following qualitative questions that would validate the numerical data obtained by quantitative method. 1. How often do you purchase your clothes and where do you normally shop for them? Why? 2. What attracts and influences during your clothing purchase? 3. Do you shop for clothes on sale/discounts? If so, why? 4. As you are aware of the recession in UK, how has it affected the way you shop for clothes? 5. What is the frequency of your shopping in the last 3 months?

6. What do you think are the reasons for the change in your shopping
behaviour compared to last year? The attitudes, feelings, experiences, beliefs and reactions of the respondents towards the research title were able to draw during focus group discussion. Thus the researcher conducted focus groups involving women of mixed age groups to discuss on this research topic. The

respondents were individually questioned and their opinions were recorded for further interpretation and analysis. Focus groups participant composition Table 4: Focus group participant composition

Participant Participant 1 Participant 2 Participant 3 Participant 4 Participant 5 Participant 6

Nationality Scottish Polish Nigerian Indian Scottish Scottish

Occupation Student Employed Employed Employed Retired Retired

3.4 Method of Data Analysis In a research there is an important distinction between quantitative and qualitative method of data analysis. In a quantitative analysis the data collected from the respondents is expressed in numerical form (Hair et al. 1998). In order to analyze the numerical data collected through questionnaire the researcher has made use of the SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) as the tool for analyzing the quantitative data. SPSS is a tool that helps in performing data validation and simple data modifications by displaying some simple descriptive statistics (Marija 2008). Using SPSS tool simple average analyses is done using descriptive statistics and producing graphical display of the end results. As this research also involves collection of qualitative data through focus groups, content analysis method of analysis is being adopted. Content analysis has been defined as a systematic, replicable technique for compressing many words of text into fewer content categories. It is a useful technique that allows discovering and describing the focus of an individual, group, organization or the general public (Silvermann 1994).

This method is considered to be more mechanical for a research that has quantitative analysis at the other end. In this chapter the methodology of the study has been presented. The research process was illustrated and also the choice that was chosen for the method was presented and explained in the pages before. The method of this research consists of: research method, type of research, data collection, population sampling and the validity and reliability of the results. 3.5 Limitations of research As with any research study, there is a possibility of flaws in the research design, primary and secondary data and even in the interpretation. In this research, one consideration that needs to be taken into account is the fact that the study was aimed to investigate womens buying behaviour during a recessionary period. Consequently, the generalisability of the study results with respect to other consumer behaviour studies would be limited. Regarding the applicability of the results of this research of womens buying behaviour; the sampling data was collected only in Aberdeen and does not lend itself to the whole of UK. Simultaneously, very little research has been carried out on the value clothing sector in the UK. Most of the literature available is on the growth of value retail outlets in the UK but does not discuss much about the market during a recessionary period. The apparent lack of research literature, and the recent attention received by the value clothing sector in the UK and the ongoing recession in the press, prompted to explore this phenomenon more in detail.

This chapter presents the findings of primary data collected from 100 respondents through questionnaire and six participants of the focus group discussions. Findings are purely based on fact and take the form of both quantitative and qualitative. The findings are interpreted and analyzed using

appropriate tools and techniques to provide a managerial sense to the aim and objectives of the research.

Questionnaire results This section is aimed at identifying the quantitative data regarding purchasing pattern of women, recession and its effect and the buying behaviour during recession. Each question in the questionnaire is addressed by diagrammatic representation and interpretation of the collected data. This provides a birds-eye view of the multifaceted data collected from the respondents.

4.1 General purchasing behaviour of women towards clothing products. 4.1.1 General frequency of purchasing clothes Chart 1 gives a breakdown of the general frequency of women towards purchasing clothes. Chart 1: General frequency of purchasing clothes

Source: Derived from Primary data (2008) Interpretation of Figure 4.1.1: The chart manifests the following with regards to frequency of clothing purchases: Nearly half (42%) of the women respondents shop for their clothes on a monthly basis. One quarter (24%) of the respondents wish to shop on special occasions or whenever they needed clothes for themselves. Weekly, fortnightly and yearly purchases made up the smallest percentages with 18%, 10% and 6% respectively.

4.1.2 Places of clothes purchase. Chart 2 demonstrates the places of purchase where women normally shop for their clothes. Chart 2: Places of clothes purchase

Source: Derived from Primary data (2008) Interpretation of Figure 4.1.2: The chart manifests the following in regards to the place where women normally shop for their clothing products: Majority of women (67%) prefer high street shops for their clothing purchases.

An equal percentage of women (58%) prefer to shop for their clothes in shopping malls. One third (36%) of the respondents go about shopping through online. A minimum percentage of women (15%) prefer retail outlets. 18% of the respondents chose others which included supermarkets and charity shops.

4.1.3 Key elements when shopping for clothes Chart 3 illustrates the key elements that women look out during a clothing purchase action. Chart 3: Key elements when shopping for clothes

Source: Derived from Primary data (2008) Interpretation of Figure 4.1.3: The chart manifests the following points in reference to the key elements that women look out for when shopping for their clothes: Products within budget turned out to be the most important element while shopping for clothes, as revealed by more than half of the respondents (58%).

Nearly one third of the respondents (39%) consider the place of purchase while shopping for their clothes. Another one third of the respondents (36%) prefer other elements like quality, brand, design, style and clothes that fits them. A very minimum percentage (15%) of the respondents looks at the least expensive products available when purchasing clothes.

Only 3% of the total respondents do not look at any of the above stated elements.

4.1.4 Characteristics that affect/influence clothing purchases Chart 4 shows the rating of the respondents towards the characteristics that affect or influence them during clothing purchases. Chart 4: Characteristics that affect/influence clothing purchases

Source: Derived from Primary data (2008) Interpretation of Figure 4.1.4: The chart manifests the following wherein affect/influence clothing purchases of women:




The price factor had 40% of women strongly agreeing, 39% agreeing, 12% neither agreeing nor disagreeing, 6% disagreeing and 3% strongly disagreeing. The quality factor had 42% strongly agreeing, 48% agreeing, 6% neither agreeing nor disagreeing and 4% disagreeing. The discount factor had 38% strongly agreeing, 41% agreeing, 18% neither agreeing nor disagreeing and 3% disagreeing. The fashion factor had 19% of women strongly agreeing, 48% agreeing, 30% neither agreeing nor disagreeing and 3% strongly disagree. The store factor had 12% of the women strongly agreeing, 29% agreeing, 51% neither agreeing nor disagreeing, 5% disagreeing and 3% strongly disagreeing. The ranking of characteristics included nearly half of the respondents agreeing with the quality, discount and fashion as an influencing factor during their clothing purchase. Maximum number of respondents strongly agrees with the price factor. Regarding the store factor half of the respondents neither agrees nor disagrees. A very minimum (3%) of the respondents strongly disagree with the price, fashion and store factor.

4.1.5 Buying clothes on sale/discounts. Chart 5 shows the amount of clothes bought on sales or discounts by the respondents.

Chart 5: Buying clothes on sale or discounts

Source: Derived from Primary data (2008) Interpretation of Figure 4.1.5: The chart manifests following in terms of the amount of clothes bought on sale or discount: More then half of the respondents (55%) tend to buy some of their total clothes that are on sale or discounts.

Nearly one third of the respondents (30%) buy most of their clothing products on sale or discounts. There were few respondents (15%) who do not buy clothes that are on sale or discounts.

None of the respondents buy all their clothing that is on sale or discounts.

4.2 Recession in UK and its effect on shopping habits 4.2.1 Awareness of recession in UK.

Chart 6 represents the awareness of the ongoing recession in UK. Chart 6: Awareness of recession in UK

Source: Derived from Primary data (2008) Interpretation of Figure 4.2.1: The chart manifests the awareness of the recession in UK which is as follows: Majority of the respondents (91%) were aware on the ongoing recession in UK.

A very minimum percentage of the respondents (9%) were not aware of the recession, the reason being international students.

4.2.2 Has recession affected clothes shopping?

Chart 7 represents where the respondents have been affected by recession or not with regards to their clothes shopping and the respondents were asked a yes/no question. Chart 7: Has recession affected clothes shopping?

Source: Derived from Primary data (2008) Interpretation of Figure 4.2.2: The chart manifests the recession affect on clothes shopping as: Majority of the respondents (73%) clothes shopping has not been affected due to recession.

A minimum percentage of the respondents (27%) have been affected by recession.

4.2.3 Change of shopping habits due to recession.

Chart 8 shows change in womens shopping habits due to recession and the respondents were asked a yes/no question. Chart 8: Change in shopping habits due to recession

Source: Derived from Primary data (2008) Interpretation of Figure 4.2.3: The chart manifests the following in ascertaining the change in womens shopping habits because of the ongoing recession in UK: The shopping habits of women towards clothes have not changed with the majority of the respondents (67%).

One third of the total respondents (33%) have said that their shopping habits have changed due to recession.

4.2.4 Effect of recession on clothes shopping.

Chart 9: Effect of recession on clothes shopping.

Source: Derived from Primary data (2008) Interpretation of Figure 4.2.4: The chart manifests the effect of recession on clothes shopping which is as follows: Majority of the respondents (36%) are not much affected by recession regarding their shopping for clothes.

An equal amount of respondents (34%) say that they are not at all affected by recession. Respondents who are somewhat affected by recession make up a quarter of the total respondents (27%). Very minimal respondents (3%) are being very much affected by recession.

As compared to Figure 4.2.2 majority of the respondents are not being affected by the recession

4.3 Purchasing behaviour of women towards clothing products during recession

4.3.1 Frequency of purchasing clothes in the last 3 months. Chart 10 portrays the frequency of purchasing clothes in the last 3 months. (i.e.) during the ongoing recessionary period in the UK. Chart 10: Frequency of purchasing clothes in the last 3 months.

Source: Derived from Primary data (2008) Interpretation of Figure 4.3.1: The chart manifests the frequency of clothing purchases in the last 3 months (recessionary period) which is as follows: Nearly half of the respondents (49%) prefer buying clothes on a monthly basis during the ongoing recessionary period.

One third of the respondents (33%) buy clothes differently which includes buying clothes occasionally or buying clothes whenever they needed. Respondents desire buying clothes on a weekly and fortnightly basis amounted to 15% and 12% respectively.

4.3.2 Comparison of clothing purchases between last 3 months with that of the last year. Chart 11: Comparison of clothing purchases

Source: Derived from Primary data (2008) Interpretation of Figure 4.3.2: The chart manifests the comparison of various stores with regards to clothing purchases. 35 respondents who purchased their clothes in ASDA last year increased to 45 in the last 3 months. 29 respondents who purchased their clothes in TESCO last year increased to 32 in the last 3 months. 36 respondents who purchased their clothes in PRIMARK last year increased to 58 in the last 3 months. 35 respondents who purchased their clothes in DEBENHAMS last year decreased to 29 in the last 3 months. 32 respondents who purchased their clothes in MATALAN last year decreased to 26 in the last 3 months.

39 respondents who purchased their clothes in M&S last year decreased to 32 in the last 3 months.

22 respondents who purchased their clothes in NEXT last year increased to 39 in the last 3 months. 16 respondents who purchased their clothes in PEACOCK last year decreased to 9 in the last 3 months. 32 respondents who purchased their clothes in JOHN LEWIS last year decreased to 23 in the last 3 months. 13 respondents who purchased their clothes in TK MAXX last year increased to 22 in the last 3 months.

4.3.3 Satisfactory level of women towards the purchased clothes Question 12 of the questionnaire turned out to be an open-ended question in order to understand the satisfactory level of the respondents with regards to their clothing purchases in 10 different stores illustrated in Figure 4.3.2. Interpretation of Question 12: The following data was obtained out of this open-ended question which is as follows: Majority of the respondents were very much satisfied with the clothes that they buy as most of the above mentioned stores sold good quality clothes at reasonable prices. A very little percentage of the respondents were fully dissatisfied with the quality. Some of the respondents stated that they were very much satisfied with the price but dissatisfied with the quality and they do not expect to purchase branded clothing.

4.3.4 Buying clothes differently compared to last year. Chart 12 illustrates buying of clothes differently now (during recession) compared to last years purchases.

Chart 12: Buying clothes differently compared to last year.

Source: Derived from Primary data (2008) Interpretation of Figure 4.3.4: The chart manifests a comparison of clothing purchases during the ongoing recessionary period with that of last year which is as follows: Respondents who buy the same amount of clothes now compared to last year were due to good prices, constituted nearly half of the total respondents (45%) One quarter of the respondents (21%) buy fewer clothes compared to last year due to reasons such as increase in the cost of living, less money to spend on households and even due to relocation. 18% of the respondents conveyed that they currently purchased more clothes than last year, which included reasons of better paid jobs and due to weight loss (only one respondent). Few respondents (16%) who were not in a position to compare their clothes purchasing opted for the Dont know option.

4.3.5 Reasons for change in shopping habits. Chart 13 exhibits various reasons for the change in shopping habits of women towards clothes purchasing.

Chart 13: Reasons for change in shopping habits.

Source: Derived from Primary data (2008) Interpretation of Figure 4.3.5: The chart manifests the important reasons with regards to the change in shopping habits of women towards clothes purchasing. Majority of the respondents (42%) opted for the others option and gave their own reasons which included more money to spend on clothes, lesser household expenses, cheaper clothes available online (Eg: EBay) and even lesser selection of clothes was given as a reason. Less money to spend on clothes was given as a reason by one quarter of the respondents (27%). Only 10% of the respondents were dissatisfied with the quality of the clothes that they normally buy for themselves. A very minimum number of respondents (3%) buy expensive clothes currently.

4.4 Personal details 4.4.1 Respondents Age

Chart 14 illustrates the different age group of the respondents who took part in answering the questionnaire. Chart 14: Respondents Age

Source: Derived from Primary data (2008) Interpretation of Figure 4.4.1: The chart manifest the different age groups of the respondents in which The majority of women respondents (32%) belonged to the age group between 21 and 30. Age groups 31 to 40 and above 40 constituted one quarter of the total respondents having 23% and 27% respectively. Only 18% of the respondents belonged to the age group of less than 20.

4.4.2 Respondents Occupation Chart 15 illustrates the major four occupational categories of the

respondents who participated in the answering of the questionnaire.

Chart 15: Respondents Occupation

Source: Derived from Primary data (2008) Interpretation of Figure 4.4.2: The chart manifests the occupation of the respondents in regards to clothing buying behaviour which had 38% of the respondents as employed One third of the respondents (31%) consisted of retired people. Students and housewives consisted of 17% and 14% respectively.

Focus group results This section aims at identifying and evaluating the qualitative data obtained through focus group discussions. A set of questions were asked by the

researcher to all the six focus group participants and the data was tabulated accordingly. The collected data was conceived and evaluated in order to understand in detail the aspects of women regarding their buying behaviour of clothes. By allowing the participants to share their opinions in a less structured and participant-directed format, the researcher was able to provide a detailed and subtle exposition of womens buying behaviour. Question 1: How often do you purchase your clothes and where do you normally shop for them? Why? Table 5: Focus Group Question 1 Participant 1 (Employed) Participant 2 (Employed) Participant 3 (Retired) Participant 4 (Employed) I wish to purchase weekly and I shop all my clothes in Primark, Debenhams and some of them in Next. These stores sell majority of the international brands I wish to purchase on a monthly basis once I get paid and I dont shop in any particular shop. I buy whatever I like Since I am retired and not able to walk a long distance I prefer shopping in the nearby charity shops. I buy clothes whenever I need and whenever is convenient Even I purchase clothes monthly. I shop in M&S and Next because of the wide range of varieties. I even shop in ASDA and Tesco Participant 5 (Student) Participant 6 (Retired) I hardly have money with me. So I only shop occasionally and mostly in ASDA, Tesco and Primark as you know the prices are very cheap Since I have grown old I do not go out regularly and shopping for clothes is minimal. I buy on a monthly basis only from M&S Question 2: What attracts and influences during your clothing purchase? Table 6: Focus Group Question 2

Participant 1 (Employed)

The first thing I look for is the store. Because I know what type of products they sell and I blindly buy them having faith on the store I mainly look at the quality of clothes. It should last long. I dont miss out stuffs if I get quality clothes at a bargain Since I shop in charity shops I cant expect the clothes to be new and of good quality. Hence I see whether the clothes that I buy is worth the money spent on it I have a budget for my clothes shopping and I stick to it

Participant 2 (Employed)

Participant 3 (Retired)

Participant 4 (Employed

strictly. Since I have got to plan for my other expenses as well, I consult with my friends and family before any purchase. I dont care about the quality. To me it is price and

Participant 5 (Student)

discounts that attracts me towards clothes. I cross check the promotions available with my family and friends, if it is satisfactory then I go about purchasing I look for quality and price. My clothes should last long. I

Participant 6 (Retired)

look at adverts on the paper, internet and on television. It gives me a better idea on the promotions, discounts and offers available.

Question 3: Do you shop for clothes on sale/discounts? If so, why? Table 7: Focus Group Question 3

Participant 1 (Employed)

I do shop clothes that are on sale or discounts but only when it is in the usual stores that I buy my clothes from. That is when I am satisfied with them Apparently I buy sale or discounted clothes. But I am more concerned on the quality. No compromises I reduce the amount of expenses on clothes as much as possible. Charity shops are cheap than retail outlets and supermarkets I do not go behind cheap stakes. As I plan my budget I keep buying what I had kept buying earlier Running short of money makes me run after discounts. I buy whatever comes on sale and do not care about the quality My frequency of shopping for clothes is less. So I believe in quality of clothes. As far as I am concerned one cannot expect good quality from sale or discounts

Participant 2 (Employed)

Participant 3 (Retired)

Participant 4 (Employed Participant 5 (Student)

Participant 6 (Retired)

Question 4: As you are aware of the recession in UK, how has it affected the way you shop for clothes? Table 8: Focus Group Question 4

Participant 1 (Employed)

Yes. I am aware of the recession that is going on. As far shopping for clothes is concerned I do not think that I am affected. And I think so because I am employed I am aware of the recession. Shopping of my clothes is little

Participant 2 (Employed)

affected as the mortgage rates and the interest rates have gone high and I have reduced the amount of my shopping in all areas

Participant 3 (Retired)

I do not have any commitments like paying mortgages or loans. So I dont think I am affected by recession I am aware of the ongoing recession. Even now I am

Participant 4 (Employed

getting the same salary which I was getting earlier. I have got to pay only the installment for my car. So I am not affected

Participant 5 (Student)

Yes. I am aware of the recession. I am not at all affected. I am same as before and I keep shopping for clothes as I was shopping normally I am aware of the recession. People are struck with money.

Participant 6 (Retired)

It is time for savings for the future. So I had cut my expenses towards clothing as of now. May be it will change once the economy moves upward

Question 5: What is the frequency of your shopping in the last 3 months? Table 9: Focus Group Question 5

Participant 1 (Employed)

I shop for my clothes on a weekly basis and even on special occasions

Participant 2 (Employed)

It is Christmas time. I have got holidays to shop and cant keep buying monthly. But normally I shop monthly for my clothes

Participant 3 (Retired)

I look for convenience and now-a-days I shop weekly

Participant 4 (Employed

I still buy my clothes monthly. It has become a routine and shopping weekly is waste of time

Participant 5 (Student) Participant 6 (Retired)

Now it is only on special occasions that I shop for clothes. Still got many clothes in my wardrobe Monthly shopping is the best according to me. At this time of Christmas I had to shop for my grand children (gifts)

Question 6: What do you think are the reasons for the change in your shopping behaviour compared to last year? Table 10: Focus Group Question 6

There is not much change in my shopping behaviour. I shop Participant 1 (Employed) the same way as I did last year. This year I have changed the place of purchase. Not Primark. Now I have started buying in ASDA and Tesco. My shopping habits have never changed compared to last year. I have got money to spend on clothes what I like to wear I am into cost cutting. I am not able to buy good clothing stuffs from charity shops compared to last year. So I only buy whichever is good looking and worth buying. So I think my shopping behaviour is changed due to this I am earning good as that of the last year. Why should I change my shopping habits? I continue shopping as usual. I even bought some expensive clothing for Christmas Not sure. I guess it has not changed. I started shopping in Next this year as one of my friend suggested it to be very good in terms of quality M&S is the best for my clothes. I just love them for what it is. Although I dont shop regularly I still stick on to M&S

Participant 2 (Employed)

Participant 3 (Retired)

Participant 4 (Employed) Participant 5 (Student) Participant 6 (Retired)

By examining all questionnaire responses and making use of focus group discussions, this chapter has produced objective satisfying results; ultimately leading to a better understanding of the womens buying behaviour with regards to low value clothing keeping in mind the ongoing recessionary period in the UK. With a balanced focus on womens buying behaviour, the primary research findings allow to conceptualize the aim and objectives more accurately.


5.0 Introduction

This chapter elaborates and discusses more on the interpretation and findings gathered out of the primary research of this project with accordance to the review of literature conducted earlier. 5.1 Value clothing retailing and women in the UK As discussed in the literature review the power of value clothing retailers have shifted from the traditional market retailers to volume and price-led retailers which is evident from the primary research and further more Table 11 depicts where women have bought their clothes in the last 5 years. The enormous growth in the value clothing market from 7.8bn in 2006 to 8.8bn in 2007 has increased the competition on the high streets due to which majority of the retailers started experimenting the discounting tool. Despite the surplus of discounting, a split between cheap and luxury is also a growing feature of the UK clothing market. Women, who were core customers at Debenhams and John Lewis, were being attracted by the product ranges available at M&S in 2007 (Mintel 2008). The primary findings of women buying clothing in M&S and John Lewis show a decrease whereas Table 11 shows an increase. Thus, comparing 2007 and 2008, women consumers have reduced their shopping in these stores (Refer Chart 11). Simultaneously, it is evident that older women still prefer M&S for their clothing and it is the youth who have reduced their shopping in M&S due to higher prices charged (Artis 1992). Womens concern on these stores was mainly the highly priced products which were revealed in the focus group discussion. In spite of the high prices, one of the focus group respondents, a retired woman said that Although the cost of clothing products are high I shop only in M&S because of the quality and life of the product which is not comparable.

Table 11: Where women have bought clothing for themselves (2002-2007)

2002 % Base: women 1,646

2004 % 1,685

2006 % 1,677

2007 % 1,602

% change

% change

2002-07 2006-07

aged 16+ M&S Primark Next Plc ASDA (George) Tesco Debenhams Matalan Peacocks TK Maxx John Lewis

47 46 40 45 10 15 21 32 23 29 30 30 12 21 23 26 8 15 19 23 13 21 21 19 14 20 17 18 6 10 11 14 n/a 10 11 11 5 11 7 9 Source: Derived from Mintel 2008

-2 +22 +7 +14 +15 +6 +4 +8 n/a +4

+5 +11 +3 +4 -2 +1 +3 +2

Table 11 shows that there has been no increase or decrease in women shoppers for Next Plc in 2007; whereas it is evident from the primary research those women who had been shopping in Next Plc last year has considerably increased this year (Refer Chart 11). Traditionally the customer profile has been that, M&S targets women over 40 years old and Next Plc comparatively concentrates more on middle aged women and few over 40 years old. According to the Mintel research report Next Plc has been a strong penetrator of the womenswear market, particularly for above 40 year olds in 2007. The style, quality and value for money with a contemporary fashion edge are the key determinants for Next Plcs growth over the years since its launch in 1982.

Primark ranking higher than any other retailer in total sales of womenswear is currently operating 170 stores in the UK and accounts for 1 in every 10 spent on clothing (Keynote 2008). Out of the six focus group participants, five participants wish to purchase in Primark for their clothing products and are very much satisfied with the price and range of products available. According to a report published by Mintel (2008), women ageing between 15 and 24 are the major shoppers of Primark and it also attracts other women consumers ageing above 40s as well.

5.1.1 Decision making process of women As discussed in the literature review women in the UK are more conscious about clothing than men and children (Refer Figure 1). Self-expression is especially important for women and it is found from the primary research that clothing products within budget, its quality, price and fashion were the most important selection criteria during clothing purchases. The process of decision making covers the factors and stages that affect consumers decision to purchase clothing products. The evidence from the focus group interview provides information on the different stages of the decision making process women go through before actually purchasing for their clothes. It explains that women initially go through the process of information search and gather information from various sources e.g. internet, news papers, marketing advertisement, promotional campaigns and retail stores on high street, from friends, family and colleagues. Friends and family considered to be the genuine source of information in terms of getting the feedback about trustworthiness and reliability of the retail outlets. Not only this, but also they will seek information from previous shoppers in their acquaintances and colleagues; they would be the biggest sources of meaningful information to them. Brand and reputation of the stores also play a vital role in decision making process for the consumers. But the most important factor which guides the consumers decision to purchase clothes is word of mouth communication and reference groups, as they have already purchased and wore clothes, so they would give accurate and practical information than advertising or websites does. Few of the participants responses are of indicative nature with regards to the value clothing market in the UK. People do a lot of research before purchasing clothes and they are apprehensive about the latest trends available in the market. They choose the clothing retailers very

meticulously, they pay due attention to what they are purchasing, despite of many retail outlets offering exchange and refund options. According to a report published by Mintel 2008, the value clothing market accounts for nearly 28% the total UK clothing market. Accordingly, from the primary research it is evident that majority of the respondents buy only some of their clothes which are on sale or discounts (Refer Chart 5). Value retailers offering products at cheaper rates fail to concentrate on the quality of the products because of which womens preference towards value clothing is less. Also, certain groups of women never mind about the quality of these products as these retailers offer latest fashionable products. From the focus group discussion of the research it is understood that clothes that are bought on sale or discounts are of not good quality and does not lasts longer. At the same time it is worth buying on discounts/sales if provided with good or better quality. Comparing the frequency of clothing purchases of last year with that of the last 3 months, the researcher hardly found a major difference (Chart 1 vs. Chart 10). According to Telegraph (2008) the shopping behaviour of women has not changed in the last years and they remain to shop as they were earlier.

This is also supported by the primary findings which states that half of the respondents by same amount of clothes compared to last year (Refer Chart 12). This results inno change behaviour of women towards clothing purchases.

5.1.2 Factors influencing women during clothing purchases This section examines the motivating and influencing factors affecting consumers behaviour in terms of purchasing value clothing products. The factors which motivates and influence them the most are considered to be the necessity of wearing clothes, whether it is in the form of outerwear, underwear or loungewear. The changing life styles need clothes at various

occasions in day-to-day life, be it parties, birthdays, outings or even festivals like Christmas. Hence, it is no longer considered to be a luxury but become an indispensable part of everyones life. Consumers do not blindly make their clothing purchases, cautiously women. There lies various factors that influence (motivate or deject) consumers leading to the discussion on price, quality, discounts, fashion and store patronage factors during clothing purchase actions carried out by women in the UK. Apart from the above factors the demographic factors also influence the buying behaviour to a greater extent. As discussed in the literature review the working women community contributes to the majority of clothing purchases which is also evident from the primary findings, having 38% of the respondents as employed. When it comes to clothing product choice criteria, women mainly look at the products that are within budget and the majority of shopping is done in shopping malls and high street shops. This is due to the difference in perception and attitude from one woman to another. Not all women think and act in the same way as others. In the words of Thang and Tan (2003) womens attitude towards clothing is replicated via the satisfaction level attained after every purchase action. A distinction is frequently made between high and low involvement purchasing, implying that in practice the actual buying activity can be less or more consistent than the desired activity (Roger and Paul 2004). Clothing consumers have specific expectations about the product as a result of previous experiences with a similar product or from available information. Products purchased for the first time, in general, require more involvement than frequently purchased products. The consumer is, therefore, not only concerned about the functional quality of the clothing product, but particularly about the comprehensive satisfaction regarding the sensory, emotional and cognitive elements. From the primary findings, womens buying behaviour is influenced equally by the price, quality, discount and fashion of the clothing product (Refer Chart 4). Four out of the six focus group participants, expressed their concerns stating that price, quality and fashion as a major influencing factor

for their clothing purchases. One of the participants, who keep an eye on sales or discounts, does not compromise on fashion and quality which is her first preference towards a clothing item. One other participant, a retired woman, prefers buying from charity shops although she finds the quality to be poor but gains a bargain in terms of price and accessibility. These influences can also be caused due to the social factors surrounding the consumers. The place of purchasing of a focus group participant changed due to the influence of her friend who suggested shopping in Next Plc. It is evident from the above discussion that womens buying behaviour is being influenced by both intrinsic and extrinsic attributes involving demographic, psychological and social factors, marketing mix elements and various clothing retailers. All these factors wholly contribute to the consumers decision making process during the clothing purchase activity.

5.1.3 Role of marketing mix elements on value clothing sector This section covers the marketing mix elements involved in the value clothing sectors in the UK. What are the top and least priorities of customers in terms of choosing the services has been predicted. Majority of participants (42%) are of the view that quality of the product is of prime importance to them, though they want a cheaper and affordable clothing product, but primarily it is the quality which make them purchase. Due to changing lifestyles, income and heavy dependency on clothes to create an impression, all these factors demands the clothes purchased to be of great quality and fashionable. 48% of women rate fashion to be of higher preference and cannot really afford to take a risk by getting poor quality product or less fashionable product; they want top of the range clothing product. Few participants expressed their feelings that they would not mind paying a little extra to get the product they desired. ASDA and Tesco have very similar customer profiles with a slight increase in the number of women shoppers in the last 3 months compared to last year (Refer Chart 11). Only 18% of the respondents prefer to shop for their

clothes from supermarkets which is a concerning factor as the remaining 82% of the respondents prefer to shop for their clothes from high street malls and retail outlets. Their preference and expectations from these stores is to get value for the money they spend. This is evident from one of the focus group participant who prefers shopping in Primark, Debenhams and Next Plc due to the availability of a variety of international brands. Women consumers expect a lot from the value clothing retailers, as they want a better quality product at a cheaper price. They also tend to look at stores that offer better deals in the form of discounts and stores that promote their products at a reasonable price. The need of the hour by women who shop for clothes is better quality at an affordable price. As price and promotion also play a vital role in terms of attracting new customers from retailers perspective. To summarise the preferences of the customer among the marketing mix elements, quality comes first followed by price, discounts and fashion etc. The importance of social class and income cannot be ignored, as it decides the purchasing power of the consumers. 5.1.4 Impact of communication and advertising on womens

purchase This section relates to the effect of communication i.e. marketing, promotions, media advertising, word of mouth influence and reference groups etc. The evidence shows that in some form or the other all the above factors affect women in making their mind to purchase clothing products. The combined effect of different marketing communications towards customers and advertising campaigns pave the way for customer to choose a product or services. The stand out factor considered to be word of mouth and reference groups, followed by the advertisements and promotional offers. In general people do not want to take a risk and experiment with the clothing retail outlets, but they would go for the authentic source of information from their colleagues and friend and families.

In spite of the fact that deals can be get cheaper online, people like to purchase their clothes either directly in the stores or through retailers, as they feel comfortable shopping in store, they can talk to the sales personnel. As one of the respondents articulated her views in this manner I look for quality and price. My clothes should last long. I look at adverts on the paper, internet and on television. It gives me a better idea on the promotions, discounts and offers available (Refer Table 6). Some participants advocate their purchasing decision to buy directly from the charity shops as they can get much better deals from them than the retailers on high street.

5.1.5 Influence of brand names in clothing purchases In this section the importance of branding, the impact of it and the brand loyalty has been discussed. The first impression they get from any retail store is the effect of branding. It is evident from the primary findings and focus group interviews that women have positive attitude and favourable stance towards brands. Though women might be looking at other alternatives, but the first thing which strike to their minds are branded products. Todays women are brand conscious and supermarkets need to attract shoppers by selling a collective range of branded clothing products as that of other grocery products as Rooney (1995) states that branding reduces marketing investments and increases business. Out of 6 focus group participants 2 respondents do not mind branded clothes as for them fashion and the correct fit is what they look for, but otherwise rest of the participants are brand conscious. A good brand does not necessarily attract customers, but it is the service along with that which guarantees the customers on a regular basis to stay with them. Otherwise, majority of the respondents voiced their views in changing the store of purchase, if they could not get the desired clothing products and services.

Customer show their loyalty towards a brand or retail outlet only when they are happy and when they get the desired products or services, otherwise competition out performs the market and competitors can acquire the customers. Branding along with the great service would ensure the clothing retailers to retain their existing customers and gain the new ones. At the same time retailers needs to be innovative and creative in taking first movers advantage by introducing fashionable products and better service.

The report continues to discuss the buying behaviour and activity of women with regards to the impact of recession on the UK clothing market. The report examines the buying behaviour of women across several constraints: womens buying behaviour, value clothing retailing and impact of recession on both. 5.2 Impact of recession on womens clothing buying behaviour This section covers the impact of recession on womens clothing buying behaviour towards the value clothing retailing in the UK. 91% of the women respondents are aware of the recession happening in the UK. Majority (73%) of the purchasers are not been affected by recession with regards to their buying of clothing products. The remaining 27% have been affected slightly due to which they look at alternatives. As discussed in the review that many women have as much as disposable income to spend and their shopping habits have not been changed. When the respondents were questioned on whether their shopping habits have changed, 67% have not changed their style of shopping and still shop the way they did a year back. As discussed further in the review, during the 1990s recessionary period the shopping habits had a drastic change with retailers looking at with regards to their pricing and had to publicly offer discounts to increase their sales (Singleton 1997). In comparison to the present scenario, 91% of the respondents who are aware of the recession a majority 70% have not at all been affected by the current situation in the UK.

In the current retail market one can see the value clothing market as an important part of the entire clothing market in the UK. A Key Note (2008) report predicts that the number of consumers who turn their backs on the value clothing products will increase in the future. This is mainly due to gain competitive advantage over others and also to attract customers in the recession that is going on in the UK now. To understand the impact of recession on the buying behaviour is further discussed with the change in purchasing patterns of women towards clothing products. 5.3 Purchasing patterns of women during recession One quarter of the respondents (24%) of the primary findings expressed their attitudes towards purchasing clothes on special occasions or whenever needed. The frequency of purchasing has remained the same compared to last year. A noticeable factor from the primary findings is that women have started visiting value clothing retail outlets which are evident from the figure 4.3.2 where Primark, ASDA and Tesco has more purchasers compared to last year. As discussed in the review, purchase of clothes was threatened by the increased expenditure on household goods, leisure and travel. Wherein, the present scenario 45% of the respondents prefer to purchase clothes as the increase in value clothing retailers emerging with discounted clothes, better deals and fashionable clothes at affordable prices. From the primary findings it was evident that majority of the respondents (42%) opted for the following reasons and voiced the below reasons with regards to the change in shopping habits

More money to spend on clothes Lesser household expenses Cheaper clothes available online (E.g. EBay, ASOSetc) Fashionable and trendy clothes at affordable prices. Value for money

This is supported by a research by Keynote (2008) which states that anything goes philosophy of dressing trends in the womenswear has increasingly become important due to increase in buying power of working women as well as their need for workwear and informal clothing. Adding to this one of the focus group participant stated that I buy majority of my clothes on sale or discounts. When it comes to special occasions like Christmas, I buy some expensive clothes for myself and also as gifts for my family. Prices in the womenswear category have been falling for even longer, although the amount spent on women's clothing easily exceeds the amount spent on menswear. 5.4 Summary of key findings In this section a summary of key findings would be tabulated from the above discussions after conducting questionnaire survey and focus group discussions. Questionnaire results gives the factors influencing the buying behaviour of women during the recessionary period in the UK, whereas the focus group interviews reflects and confirms that there exist some consistency between what participants aired their views in the questionnaire. The following table summarises the key findings. Table 12: Key findings of the research

Key issues 1.The decision making process of women

Key findings 58% and 67% of women prefer shopping malls and high street shops respectively. Women gather information from the internet, newspapers, advertisements, friends, relatives and colleagues. Women mainly look at the products that are within their budget. Branding and store reputation plays a vital role in decision making. Women are cautious in choosing the retailers by looking at the exchange and refund policies. Price and quality seems to be the major influencing factor of women. Secondly, discount and fashion factors influence the purchase of clothing products. Retired women prefer buying clothes in charity shops. Most women are influenced by their friends and relatives during clothing purchases.

2. Factors influencing women during clothing purchases

3. Role of marketing mix elements on value clothing sector

48% of women rate fashion as their first preference towards clothing. 42% of women view quality of clothing products as a prime factor. Women expect cheaper products from retailers with better quality. High street retailers have increased in number and the sales of supermarkets that sell clothes have reduced.

4. Impact of communication and advertising on womens purchase Women do not want to take risk by making a purchase with a new retailer. Women tend to seek information from friends and colleagues on the prevailing market trends. Women tend to buy directly from stores rather than purchasing through online.

5. Influence of brand names in clothing

Majority of women have a positive attitude and favorable stance towards brands. Few women were concerned on the fashion and fit

5.5 Discussion of findings Research Objective 1: To investigate the preferences and spending patterns of women towards clothing in the UK Women constitute to the majority of shopping for households and clothes shopping form a major part of it. In this present scenario of value retailing, majority of women tend to look out for latest trends in fashionable clothing rather than concentrating on particular brands. Value clothing retailers play a vital role in determining the clothing purchase action of women and go in hand with each other. Women aspire to spend more on clothes due to the increase in disposable income and due to less household expenses. Research Objective 2: To evaluate womens attitude towards low value clothing products The value clothing sector of the UKs clothing market has inevitably contributed to the UKs economic growth. The widening of the value clothing sector in the UK in a short period of time has caused the retailers to concentrate more on the products quality and the developments in fashion. The women audiences perceive value retailers as a boom for their clothes shopping constraints in terms of cheaper price and trendy fashion at affordable price. When it is looked at the quality point of view, they seemed to keep themselves low. The durability of the goods sold by the value retailers are not long lasting because of the poor quality provided. A positive attitude among the working women was found during this research, which was understood because of the adequate disposable income. Research Objective 3: To identify the major factors influencing womens buying behaviour in a recessionary period in the UK. Recession in the UK seems to have affected the economy, but not the clothes buying behaviour of women. Women belonging to the working community make the most of the clothes shopping in the UK and still purchase the same way as they did last year. Women are influenced mostly

by their friends, relatives and colleagues during a clothing purchase. Women are provided with cheap and fashionable clothing products with the growth of value clothing sector in the UK.

Research Objective 4: Conclusions on womens purchasing behaviour and also provide a series of rational recommendations for value clothing retailers in the UK to perform better during a recession. The widening of the value clothing market, fashion conscious on the other hand, have caused more desire among women, with more demand for differentiation and a quicker change of variety. The enhanced availability of fashion merchandise did not only contribute to well-being but also caused a new anxiety for women trying to keep up with new trends. The frequency of purchase made by women remained the same in spite of the ongoing recession and even during this period woman sought to keep abreast of emulative consumption. The findings give support towards the interest in purchasing value clothing and with enough disposable income to spend their buying behaviour has not had any significant impact even during this recessionary period. This shift in consumer tastes provides indirect evidence for the existence of interdependent preference formation. This section assess the current value clothing market, where the women customers are getting affected by the retailers who provide poor quality clothes, what they feel needs to be improved in the future. They expect much better quality clothes for the money they spend when they shop for value clothes. The expectation from the retail outlets is quality products at affordable prices. Interestingly, what seems to be customers facing the different kinds of problem could eventually proved to be the areas for









immediately to gain the lost confidence of the customers.

5.6 SWOT analysis of the value clothing market in the UK Table 13: SWOT Analysis


Clothing is an essential requisite It is tempted to be purchased on impulse World leader in fashion & design Low skilled and low paid labor Few people have dressmaking & knitting skills to make their own clothes.


Comparatively less production capacity Increase in low-cost foreign threats Not so instant in response to vagaries of fashion Affect of day-to-day trade by circumstances beyond control.


The removal of tariffs and quotas protecting Ability to increase branded products and designer names. Increase in home shopping through catalogues, internet and television Imaginative window displays, usage of unusual garments and different color combinations Expansion of high street retailing chains


Fierce foreign competition Retailers being largely dependent on the fortunes of big chains. Threat of existing import quotas being phased out Traditional mail catalogues from discount stores continue to come under pressure as they are printed in advance.


6.0 Conclusion and recommendations

This final section of the report describes the process of developing conclusions and recommendations at the level of each chapter and the process of synthesizing these findings and prioritizing recommendations across each chapter. The purpose of this research is to understand the womens buying behaviour towards value clothing products during a recessionary period in

the UK. The study aimed at investigating on the preferences and spending pattern of women towards clothing products. This research identifies the attitude of women towards value clothing products and focused on the major influencing factors during the recessionary period in the UK. The UK clothing market including the history, current trends, value retailing and the future trends was taken a closer look. Simultaneously, womens buying preferences and spending patterns towards clothing products was investigated by looking in detail the consumer behaviour and the process of decision making. Also, factors influencing the buying behaviour of women were reviewed with constraints such as attitudes, marketing mix elements and branding. Whilst the study investigated the purchasing behaviour and preferences of women in the clothing market it also explored womens influencing factors and purchasing characteristics.

Overall, majority of the respondents are aware of the ongoing recession and there hasnt been any drastic change in the way they shop for their clothes. Even due to the economic downturn, the frequency of their purchasing still remains the same. There is no set purchasing period; they generally purchase when the need arises. Approximately half of the respondents from high street shops and shopping malls, and one in three buy from charity shops and supermarkets. Although supermarkets have entered this market and serve the customers needs successfully, the value clothing retailers dominate the scene. It is also noted that women purchase online from these value retailers. The clothing industry in the UK is facing a tough time during the downturns as consumers in general are into cost-cutting. With stiff competition and increasing prices retailers need to re-work their strategies to attract customers. The right product mix, price contracts, branding, channel management and customer value management all contribute to the retailers strong market position. Through the primary research findings women are

brand conscious and retail brands give an otherwise indistinguishable product a new identity. They serve as a mark, an assurance of quality and allow the company concerned to charge a premium for the products, of course, after consumer acceptance. The recent upsurge in the value clothing market has had an impact on the overall UK clothing market as retailers focus mainly on the growing trends in fashion and price. It is evident from the summary of key findings that there is significant increase in women purchasing even during this recessionary due to Abundant disposable income available (Christopher 2000)

Older women benefited from government pensions (Guardian 2008)

Government funding the unemployed (BBC 2008) To conclude, rise of value retailers is been growing and are affected by the recession which has been beneficial for women as prices are reduced. The evidence of the changes in womens buying behaviour and purchasing patterns has not diminished even during economic downturns.


Recommendations for clothing retailers

When a recession threatens the clothing industry, value retailers in particular need to take decisive steps to understand the situation and what it means for their future survival. Planning for a downturn maximises the opportunities available, enabling the businesses to come through the bad times re-energised and fit for the future. Act decisively: With increased uncertainty and volatility during a recession it is important to take tough decisions early. Focus relentlessly on the key drivers of value and the key risks across the business. Retailers need to take position of the down turn to take advantage of the competitors. Cash is king: The retailers need to ensure that their finances and working capital are in good order; protect their liquidity; re-examine their treasury,

financing, funding and pension exposures. Monitoring their performance against financial and nonfinancial covenants, adopt hands on approach to cash management. Focus on cost base: Evaluate which products, customers and channels create or destroy value. Focus on enhancing operational performance; go for targeted rather than across the board cuts; extract better value; reduce unnecessary complexity; look at whether their business model needs to change during this recessionary period. Plan for different scenarios: Retailers need to demonstrate agility and flexibility; model a range of financial, operational and workforce scenarios that reflect the impact of the downturn on the business; adapt quickly and explore strategic options available. Recognise the value of customers: Regular and clear communication with customers is a key to the value clothing retailer. The need to identify key marketing strategies and develop appropriate relationship with the value customers retaining and attracting the best people is critical to your future.


Recommendation for future research

Research on womens buying behaviour during a recessionary period in the UK is still at its initial stage. This study is distinctive because it contributes to the womens buying behaviour towards value clothing products. However, further studies related to these areas need to be continued in the future and the following recommendations are: This research report was developed and validated with a small sample size of 100 respondents in Aberdeen city. Thus a larger national sample would be desirable to have a clear understanding of the UK clothing market including menswear and childrenswear in detail.

As the majority of respondents were employed (students and retired were included), a future research on unemployed women would give a different perspective of womens buying behaviour. To get a better understanding of the current scenario, in-depth interviews with retail outlet managers and customer service assistants would add value and give a complete picture of womens attitude and buying preferences. As the simple SPSS and triangulation method analysis hold the basic statistical limitations, further research could include advanced statistical tools such as hypothesis testing, correlation and analysis of variance and chi-square analysis for a better output. 6.3 Overture

Thanks to the analysis, it can be assumed that from the past few years, the value clothing market is likely to keep growing. Besides, the value clothing products that are nowadays targeted by women will certainly know a great development since the mentalities and especially men and children are ready to consume those products.


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Hello, I am Nilesh Kumar studying Msc. International Business at RGU. As a part of my research project I am conducting a study on womens buying behaviour towards low value clothing products during a recessionary period in the UK. 1. How often do you purchase clothes for yourself? Weekly Fortnightly Monthly Yearly Others (Please state)

2. Where do you normally shop for your clothes? (Tick all that apply)








Online shopping

Others (Please state):

3. What do you look at when you shop for a clothing product? (Tick all that apply) Least expensive product None of these Products within budget Place of purchase Others (Please state)

4. Rate the characteristic below which affects/influences you during clothing purchase Strongly Agree Agree Neither agree or disagree Disagree Strongly disagree

Price Quality Discounts Fashion Store

5. How many of your clothes are on sale/discounted when you buy them? All of them Most of them Some of them None of them Please state why? . 6. Are you aware of the recession that is happening in UK? Yes Yes No No 7. Has the recession affected the way you shop for your clothes?

8. Have your shopping habits for clothing changed due to recession? Yes No

9. How far has your clothes shopping been affected by the recession? Tick any one) Very much affected Not much affected Somewhat affected Not at all affected

Please state why? ...............................................................................


How often have you bought clothes for yourself during the last 3 Fortnightly Monthly Others (Please state).................

months? Weekly

11. Which of these do you buy the majority of your clothing? (Tick all that apply)

Stores ASDA Tesco Primark Debenhams Matalan M&S Next Peacocks John Lewis TK Maxx

Last year

Last 3 months

12. How satisfied are you with the clothes that you buy from these stores? 13. Are you buying clothing differently now compared to the same time last year? More clothes Fewer clothes Same amount of clothes Dont know Please state the reason? ....................................................................... 14. What do you think is the reasons for the change in your shopping habits? Less money to spend on clothes Dissatisfied with the quality of clothing available Buying more expensive clothes Others (Please mention): .. 15. Age If Less than 20 possible please 21 to 30 state your 31 to 40 actual Above 40 age: ..

16. Occupation Employed Student Housewife Retired Others (Please state): Thank you for spending your valuable time in filling my questionnaire and helping me in the research process. Note: If you are willing to participate in a focus group on this subject please state name and a contact: