Title page for ETD etd-11142008-102636


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Cho, Siwon
Author's Email Address siwon_cho@vt.edu
URN etd-11142008-102636
Title Effects of Experiences and Brand-Self Image Congruity on Perceived Risk and Purchase Intention in Apparel Online Shopping Context
Degree PhD
Department Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Chen-Yu, Jessie H. Committee Chair
Brown, James R. Committee Member
Emmel, JoAnn M. Committee Member
Kincade, Doris H. Committee Member
Keywords
  • Brand
  • Perceived Risk
  • Image Congruity
  • Purchase Intention
  • Brand Image
  • Apparel
  • Experience
  • Online Shopping
Date of Defense 2008-10-31
Availability unrestricted
Abstract

Retailers’ ultimate concern is consumers'' purchase intentions because increasing levels of purchase intention may lead to the actual purchase, which is directly related to retailers’ sales and profits. Perceived risk has been proposed as one of the most important concepts for understanding how consumers make a purchase decision (Mitchell, 1999) and research findings supported that perceived risk was a significant factor affecting consumers’ willingness to purchase (Heijden, Verhagen, & Creemers, 2001). Therefore, it is critical for online retailers in the apparel industry to understand consumer’s perceived risk and purchase intention so that they can develop effective retail strategies and build long-term relationships with customers.

Consumers use internal information to help them in the purchase decision process by retrieving risk-related information from memory. Experience and product/brand knowledge are two common types of internal information that consumers use to reduce risks and make purchase decisions (Brucks, 1985; Engel, Blackwell, & Miniard, 1995). Studies showed that experience with previous in-home shopping for apparel products significantly reduced perceived risk and increased purchase intention in buying apparel products via in-home shopping channels (Kwon, Paek, & Arzeni, 1991; Park & Stoel, 2005; Sen, Johnson, Stanforth, Lennon, & Moore, 2000). Several researchers also have investigated the relationship between the familiarity with a website’s brand and the perceived of risk and purchase intention (Laroche, Kim, & Zhou, 1996; Park & Stoel, 2005). However, the brand familiarity in these studies was measured as consumer’s brand knowledge through frequent exposures, such as advertisement, instead of experiences acquired through actual purchase and use of the brands. No study has examined if the purchase experience and actual usage of a specific brand are related to perceived risk when consumers shop for apparel products online. Brand image is one type of knowledge that consumers stored in their memory and may retrieve it during their decision making process. Studies showed that brand image was the most important and most frequently used tool to reduce consumers’ perception of risk (Nandan, 2005). McCracken (1989) indicated that brand image helps an individual express oneself and develop one’s self-identities; therefore, consumers prefer products with an image that matches their actual or ideal self-concept (Karande, Zinkhan, & Lum, 1997). Therefore, congruity between brand image and consumers’ self image (brand-self image congruity) may help consumers to reduce their perceived risk and increase purchase intention in apparel online purchases. No study has examined the effect of brand-self image congruity in apparel online shopping context.

The purposes of the study were to investigate (a) the relationships between consumers’ experience with apparel catalog/TV shopping and their experience with apparel online shopping, (b) the effects of consumers’ experience with apparel online shopping and brand-self image congruity on their experience with a specific brand, and (c) the effects of consumers’ experience with a specific brand and brand-self image congruity on their perceived risk and purchase intention in apparel online shopping context. Two conceptual frameworks were developed. The first framework was for examining all participants, including participants with and without experience with a specific brand. The valence of experience with a specific brand was excluded in this framework. The second framework, including the valence of the experience with a specific brand, was for examining participants who had experience with a specific brand. Fifteen research hypotheses were generated with respect to the specific relationships proposed in the conceptual frameworks.

A 2 x 2 quasi-experimental between subjects design was used in this study to examine if experience with a specific brand (Experience vs. No Experience) and brand-self image congruity (Consistent vs. Inconsistent) were the antecedents of perceived risk and purchase intention in apparel online shopping context. In addition to the quasi-experimental design, a survey design was also used to examine the relationships among experiences with catalog, TV, and online shopping for apparel products and the relationships among experience with apparel online shopping, perceived risk and purchase intention. Data was collected by online surveys using a national sample, and 455 apparel online shoppers living in the U.S. participated.

Factor analysis results showed that the valence and extent of the experiences were two different constructs, and therefore, the two aspects of experience were included in the study. The extent of the experience is about how often consumers buy products, how much money they spend, and how many items they buy (Klopping & McKinney, 2006; Seock, 2003; Ward, 2001). The feelings experienced are called the valence of the experience, and these feelings are usually described in the literature as good/bad, enjoyed/not enjoyed, or satisfied/ dissatisfied with the experience (Chen & Dubinsky, 2003; Folkes & Patrick, 2003; Mano & Oliver, 1993; Raghubir & Menon, 2005).

The first purpose of the study was to investigate the relationships between consumers’ experience with apparel catalog/TV shopping and their experience with apparel online shopping. The results showed that participants who had more experiences and who had a positive feeling about their experience with buying apparel products from catalogs had more experiences with apparel online shopping. However, participants’ TV shopping experiences did not have significant relationships with apparel online shopping. Participants who had more positive feelings about their experience with buying apparel products online purchased apparel product more frequently, bought more apparel items, and spent greater amount of money on apparel products online. The second purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of consumers’ experience with apparel online shopping and brand-self image congruity on their experience with a specific brand. The results showed that participants who had more experiences with buying apparel products online and who perceived the image of a specific brand as more consistent with their self image had more experiences with a specific brand, indicating that they purchased apparel product of the brand more frequently, bought more items of the brand, and spent greater amount of money on the brand. The third purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of consumers’ experience with a specific brand and brand-self image congruity on their perceived risk and purchase intention in buying a specific brand online. The results of perceived risk showed that for all participants, including those with and without experience with a specific brand, those had more experiences with a specific brand and those perceived the image of a specific brand as more consistent with their self-image perceived less risk in buying the apparel products of the brand online. However, participants who already had experience with a specific brand perceived less risk in buying the brand online if they had positive feeling about their experience with the brand despite of the frequency of previous experience (i.e., the extent of the experience with a specific brand). In the results of purchase intention, similar results to that of perceived risk were found for all participants. Those had more experiences with a specific brand and those perceived the image of a specific brand as more consistent with their self-image had higher purchase intention in buying the apparel products of the brand online. However, among the participants who had experience with the specific brand, only brand-self image congruity influenced their perceived risk and purchase intention. Either the extent or valence of the experience with the brand did not directly influence their purchase intention in buying the brand online. Instead, these experiences indirectly influenced the purchase intention through perceived risk.

In conclusion, participants’ experience with apparel online shopping and brand-self image congruity were significant factors on their perceived risk and purchase intention in apparel online shopping context. Participants who had more and positive experience with apparel online shopping and those whose self image was more consistent with the brand image perceived less risk and had higher purchase intention in buying apparel products of the brand online. This study extends the understanding of consumers’ apparel online shopping behavior by identifying the roles of experiences and brand-self image congruity in apparel online shopping context. Based on the findings, suggestions for marketing strategies in apparel online shopping were provided.

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