Millennials’ symbolic consumption of luxury fashion brands: the conspicuous consumption and self-concept motivations’ relationship with brand loyalty
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the degree
This dissertation investigates and describes the concept of conspicuous consumption and self-concept of luxury fashion personal goods and explore if they are motivations for Millennial luxury consumers’ consumption of personal luxury goods, and if these motivations lead to Millennial luxury consumers’ brand loyalty of luxury fashion brands. Millennials are already an influential luxury consumer group and due to the purchasing strength of luxury fashion personal goods in the generational cohort, the congruent may in the future dominate the market. There is a need for a better understanding of the driving factors motivating Millennial’s luxury fashion goods consumption and the importance of luxury brand management research in the present modern environment, as self-concept and conspicuous consumption may be key factors in sustaining a long-term relationship between luxury fashion brands and the influential Millennial cohort. In this study previous literature will be examined regarding luxury fashion, branding, the concepts of status consumption and the consumer-based brand equity model. The study takes a deductive approach following with a questionnaire and data analysis, underlined with the research philosophies of objectivism and positivism. The questionnaire is conducted online, and participants include 203 Millennial luxury consumers from 40 different countries around the world. The analysis of the data using SPSS allows further interest in these relationships in qualitative research. The study concludes Millennials do possess conspicuous consumption motivations for the consumption of luxury goods, especially in regard to the conveying of a message to others when consuming luxury fashion personal goods. The results also indicate that Millennials do possess a self-concept motivation for buying fashion luxury personal goods, especially in regard to Millennials consuming luxury fashion products reflecting how they see themselves. However, the findings in this study shows no relationship between self-concept motivations and brand loyalty, or conspicuous consumption motivations and brand loyalty, among Millennial luxury fashion consumers. Although findings in this study could not find any significant relationship between Millennials’ conspicuous consumption and self-concept motivations and brand loyalty, it does not exclude other sample profiles and methodology to provide different outcomes.
Table of Contents
Chapter One – Introduction………………………………………………………………………………..p. 6
Chapter Two – Literature Review………………………………………………………………………..p.11
Chapter Three – Methodology………………………………………………………………..p. 21
Chapter Four – Findings……………………………………………………………………….p. 27
Chapter Five – Discussion and Conclusion……………………………………..………….p. 35
List of Figures
Figure 1.1 – Generation Market Share of Personal Luxury Goods………………………p. 8
Figure 1.2 – Generation Sales Value Personal Luxury Goods……………………………..p. 8
Figure 1.3 – Global Personal Luxury Goods Market……………………………………….p. 8
Figure 4.1 – Descriptive Statistics Conspicuous Consumption…………………………..p. 29
Figure 4.2 – Descriptive Statistics Self-Concept……………..……………………..……..p. 30 Figure 4.3 – Descriptive Statistics Brand Loyalty…………………………………………..p. 31
Figure 4.4 – Regression Brand Loyalty Single Dependent Value………………………..p. 31
Figure 4.5 – Regression Brand Loyalty Single Dependent Value…………………………p. 32
Figure 4.6 – Regression Brand Loyalty Category Value…………………………………..p. 33
Figure 4.7 Regression Brand Loyalty & Conspicuous Consumption Category Value….p. 33
- CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
- CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
- Luxury Fashion
- Fashion Branding
- Brand identity and image
- Brand equity
- Brand loyalty
- Symbolic consumption
- Conspicuous consumption
- Customer-Based Brand Equity Model
2.4.1 Keller’s (1993) customer-based brand equity model
- CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY
- Methodology Introduction
- Research Philosophies
- Explanatory studies
- Research Design
- Research Strategy
- Quantitative research
- Data analysis
- Research Ethics
- CHAPTER FOUR: FINDINGS AND ANALYSIS
- Sample Profile
- Conspicuous consumption
- Brand Loyalty
- CHAPTER FIVE: DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
- Sample Profile
- Luxury fashion
- Conspicuous consumption
- Brand loyalty
- Conclusion and Limitations
- Limitations and future research
- CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
There is an ever-expanding consumption of goods in the luxury market as a result of the shift in the generational cohort of luxury consumers (Rolling & Sadachar, 2018). Millennials are already an influential consumer group of the luxury market and the congruent is expected to dominate the market due to the purchasing power strength of luxury goods in the generational cohort (Deloitte, 2017; Giovannini et al., 2015). Generations are distinctive groups of people who have a common history and main life events at critical stages of development (Esmaeilpour, 2015). Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are born between the year 1980 to 2000 (Goldman Sachs, no date). They are a unique and influential consumer group who are young, informed and tech-savvy, and tends to prefer brands possessive of a core brand identity and values (Bhaduri and Stanforth, 2016). Being educated with the accessibility of information makes them courageous, confident and fashion orientated (Samala & Singh, 2018). Raised in a time where everything was branded, Millennials have a comfortable relationship with everything branded (Lazarevic, 2012). The millennial consumer is consumption-oriented as they regard the world today to be materialistic (Lazarevic, 2012). The high ability of brand consciousness of the millennial consumers is mainly due to their high disposable income compared to previous young consumer segments in history (Grotts and Wider Johnson, 2013)
Millennials grew up with the Internet and are excessively influenced by technology which has made them evolve differently from previous generational cohorts. As Millennials tend to be more educated, tech-savvy and rich of information regarding fashion and its availability they also have different social patterns and values compared to earlier generations, hence brands are facing a challenge on how to communicate to them (Deloitte, 2017). The shifting generational cohorts purchasing luxury goods has increased the consumerism of the luxury market (Rolling & Sadachar, 2018).
Figure 1.1 Figure 1.2
Bain and Company (2019) Bain and Company (2019)
The influence of younger consumers can no longer be denied by luxury brands. 40% of the luxury consumers in 2018 (Figure 1.1) were by estimation Millennials (Generation Y), and they also accounted for 31% of the luxury purchases (Figure 1.2) (Bain and Company, 2019). In order to capitalise upon this, luxury brands need to adapt their product offering, communication, commitment strategies and distribution channels to younger consumers’ preferences (Bain & Company, 2019). The unique and influential behaviour of Millennials makes them a challenging group to target there is an overall lack of coherent perceptions of how to motivate Millennials to connect with luxury brands (Navdeep A. et. al., 2018). The luxury industry is penetrated with a ‘millennial state of mind’ changing consumption tendencies among all generations, leading to luxury brands having to reconsider how to deliver to their consumers, and how to deliver it (Bain and Company, 2012).
Previous research proposed that in order to be considered luxury, a brand should have five values; social value, conspicuous value, unique value, hedonic value and quality value (Liu et al., 2012; Vigneron and Johnson, 1999). The majority of luxury fashion brands offer all five values shaping an overall image of the brands. The market of personal luxury goods is not only exceptional for its high market value, estimated to be worth 260 billion euros in 2018 (Figure 1.3), but also for its rate of growth of 6% the same year – which has undoubtedly excelled that of other personal goods categories (Bain and Company, 2019). Personal luxury goods are defined as apparel, shoes, accessories, jewellery, bags and watches. There is a significant increase in demand for luxury products, far beyond the limited clique of riches and powerful, making modern luxury very different (Cavender & Kincade, 2014; Kapferer & Valette-Florence, 2016). This growth has incited challenges in the form of increased competition. The development of new luxury and prestige brands is challenging the preservation of brand image and brand identity among more established brands (Parrott et al., 2015; Theng et al., 2013).
Luxury brands are characterised for going beyond functionality and affirm the image and status of a person (Liu et al., 2012; Esmaeilpour, 2015). Brands are intangible assets resulting in financial and social benefits for a company. Brand equity can be studied to evaluate the financial worth of a brand but can also be studied with motivation of strategy to enhance marketing efficiency (Okonkwo, 2007). In order to refer to a product as “luxury” it is not sufficient for it to possess superior quality and unique design, as a symbolic meaning should also be communicated (Seo and Buchanan-Oliver, 2015). This value can be added through branding. Brands can generate value to consumers by the possible advantages of conspicuous recognition from others, sense of belonging and the expression of their self-concept through the consumption of luxury brands (Seo and Buchanan-Oliver, 2015). A comprehensive understanding of consumer behaviour takes outcome of better strategic decisions on the definition of the target audience (Keller, 1993). Determining the Millennials’ motivations for consumption of luxury fashion could be used as a guideline strategizing how to increase brand equity for the luxury fashion brand.
The knowledge of consumers’ preferred choice of brands may be crucial in the development of business strategies for obtaining loyal consumer who are prepared to pay more for the branded product (Rodrigues & Vitorino Martins, 2016). The younger generations will in the future be the primary growth segment, as Millennials and Generation Z will account for approximately 55 percent of the 2025 luxury market, contributing 130 percent to the growth in the market from 2019 until then, compensating for recession in the older generations’ consumption (Bain and Company, 2019). The influence of younger consumers cannot be negated by luxury fashion brands. In order to capitalise, luxury fashion brand need to adjust their communication, product offering, distribution channels and engagement strategies to the preferences of Millennials (Bain and Company, 2019). There is a need for a better understanding of the driving factors motivating Millennial’s luxury fashion goods consumption and the importance of luxury brand management research in the present modern environment. It is essential to understand the relationship between symbolic consumption and the behaviour of Millennials (Tangsupwattana and Liu, 2017), and self-concept and conspicuous consumption may be key factors in sustaining a long-term relationship between luxury fashion brands and the influential Millennial cohort. Erdogmus and Budeyri-Turan (2012) propose the consumption of prestigious brands to be an indication of the consumers’ social status, wealth or power, as these brands are rarely acquired and strongly linked to the self-concept and social image of a person, creating value for the consumer through status and conspicuous consumption. The aim of this study is to explore the self-concept and conspicuous consumption motivations of Millennials before purchase of luxury fashion goods leading to brand loyalty, which may be used as a guideline to luxury fashion brand management. The objectives of this study will be to investigate what conspicuous consumption is and if it is a motivation for Millennial luxury consumers’ consumption of personal luxury goods; what self-concept is and if it is a motivation for Millennial luxury consumers’ consumption of personal luxury goods; if Millennial consumers’ conspicuous consumption motivations leads to brand loyalty of luxury fashion brands; and if Millennial luxury consumers’ self-concept motivations leads to brand loyalty of luxury fashion brands. In the chapter following, previous literature will be examined regarding luxury fashion, branding, the concepts of status consumption and the consumer-based brand equity model. The current theoretical understandings of luxury fashion consumption will be advanced by this study as it will be focusing on Millennials, an under-research but highly influential age cohort. The study takes a deductive approach following a questionnaire and data analysis, underlined with the research philosophies of objectivism and positivism. Findings and analysis of the data can be found in chapter four. In the following chapter, a discussion and conclusion discussing emerging themes from the literature review and if they correlate with findings found in this study.
2.1 Luxury Fashion
Luxury can be identified in terms of its satisfaction of consumer values, such as functional values (usability, quality and price, uniqueness), social values (conspicuousness, prestige), and personal values (self-identity, hedonic, materialistic) (Fionda & Moore, 2009). The high quality, premium pricing and regulated distribution of luxury products are expected to induce uniqueness (Jin, 2012). ‘With luxury products one’s rank is demonstrated by one’s ability to sacrifice productive resources to buy non-productive items’ (Kapferer, 2015, p. 44). The business model of luxury is based on rigorous principles that preserve the uniqueness of luxury and care for the non-comparability of the brands that adhere to it (Kapferer, 2015). A luxury brand goes beyond functionality and put emphasises on the person’s image and status (Esmaeilpour, 2015; Liu et al., 2012). Through the acquisition, utilisation and disposal of consumer luxury goods customers can provide an element of differentiation towards others. The items represent their aspiration of a superior lifestyle, including wealth, success and social excellence (Bhaduri & Stanforth, 2016). Luxury fashion products with characteristics of high quality, exclusiveness, high price and social visibility are great examples of symbolic consumption goods (Giovannini et al., 2015). For luxury companies the brand is the core competency for sustainable success, and various marketing and branding strategies are used to appeal to the consumer’s emotions and psychology. An attentively managed branding of a luxury fashion brand will generate sustainable returns and benefits (Okonkwo, 2007).
2.2 Fashion Branding
‘A brand is the sum of all feelings, perceptions and experiences a person has as a result of contact with a company and its products and services.’ (Okonkwo, 2007, p. 103)
2.2.1 Brand identity and image
The brand identity is who the brand truly is and how consumers perceive the brand; as in the attributes and elements that compose the brand and how consumers in contact with the brand perceive and interpret these (Okonkwo, 2007), and the maintenance of a strong brand identity is crucial to successfully manage a luxury fashion brand (Theng So et. al., 2013). Factors such as innovation, product craftsmanship, exclusivity and premium price are used to achieve a compelling brand identity in the luxury fashion market (Theng et al., 2013). The brand image are the consumers’ memory perceptions of a brand as reflected by the brand associations (Keller, 1993). To sustain a unique brand identity resistant to change, the core attributes must be established and promoted as this will increase the brand awareness of the target customers (Okonkwo, 2007). The brand image is of greater importance for Millennial consumers as they use their brand to express themselves, and the brand must be something they want to be associated with, with values like success, wealth, class and style (Lazarevic, 2012).
2.2.2 Brand equity
The brand equity measurement topic captivated the attention of the academic business association as brand management is strategically important for companies (Rodrigues & Vitorino Martins, 2016). Brand equity can be studied to evaluate the financial worth of a brand but can also be studied with motivation of strategy to enhance marketing efficiency (Okonkwo, 2007). A comprehensive understanding of consumer behaviour takes outcome of better strategic decisions on the definition of the target audience (Keller, 1993).
Brand associations’ favourability, strength and uniqueness are the dimensions distinguishing brand knowledge playing a key role in determining divergent response that constitutes brand equity. Brand attitudes are construing the overall evaluations of a brand from the consumer (Esmaeilpour, 2015). Brand equity is seen in this paper as a multidimensional structure of brand knowledge based on the approach of creation in the consumer’s mind (Keller, 1993) which creates product value for the brand and leads to more loyal customers (Rodrigues & Vitorino Martins, 2016). Brand equity is more important for Millennials as they are more aware of brand prestige than previous generational cohorts, and the Millennials consumers want to be associated with successful brands (Lazarevic, 2012) Three approaches outlined for brand equity assessment by Keller and Lehman (2003) are customer mindset, product market and the financial market. Brand equity is measured from the viewpoint of the consumer in this paper.
2.2.3 Brand loyalty
‘Brands can provide the primary points of differentiation between competitive offerings that helps companies develop loyalty’ (Esmaeilpour, 2015, p. 467)
Brand loyalty is the consumer preference, both conscious and unconscious, expressed by the intention of continuously and habitually buying or repurchasing the brand (Okonkwo, 2007). Brand loyalty is a key element of brand equity and the consumer’s attachment to a brand, even when prices or product features change (Esmaeilpour, 2015), and is closely related to experience (Liu et al., 2012). It is a definite indication of branding success and relevance. Brand loyalty means reduced search expense for consumers, and long-term profitability and competitive advantage for companies, resulting in lower costs in obtaining and serving consumers as loyal customers purchase more frequently, in higher abundance and with less price sensitivity (Okonkwo, 2007). The view of brand loyalty endorsed by Keller (1993) is that is develops when favoured brand beliefs and attitudes are expressed in repeated purchasing behaviour. There may be some of these beliefs reflecting the product’s objective reality, but they may also go beyond that and reflect favourable, strong and unique associations. Giovannini et al. (2015) proposed the consumer’s brand awareness to have a positive relationship with both brand loyalty and the intention to purchase luxury fashion products. Luxury brands must constantly persuade the consumer with the relevance and value of their offering, and the valuation of the loyalty through reinforcing the brand essence and presence (Okonkwo, 2007). Loyal consumers are strongly committed to a brand, as they presume the brand to be superior to the alternatives (Esmaeilpour, 2015).
Lazarevic (2012) introduced a model exploring the steps the Millennial consumer should follow to reach brand loyalty, proposing branding and perceived congruency between customer and brand as important steps. In the past, the marketing objective was to identify new ways to attracts customers, but in recent times the objective has changed to the aim of keeping customers who have already shown their commitment to the brand (Giovannini et al., 2015). Branding is important when creating loyalty in Millennials because it enables the organisation to develop the brand image and brand equity, then evaluated by the Millennials consumers to see whether the brand is congruent with their sense of self before considering purchase (Lazarevic, 2012).
Although previous research about how do obtain brand loyalty exists from other researchers there are less insights in what motivates the Millennial consumers to be brand loyal. Models include recommendations where several factors are combined in order to pursue customers’ brand loyalty, and in some cases Millennials (Lazarevic, 2012; Liu et al., 2012). However, there are limited knowledge about Millennial consumers’ brand loyalty towards luxury fashion brands in specific. Previous research has focused on how to obtain brand loyalty from Millennials (Lazarevic, 2012; Giovannini et al., 2015), or how to obtain brand loyalty from general consumers for luxury fashion brands (Liu et al., 2012). Previous research has also investigated the behaviour of Millennial luxury fashion consumers and their influences (Samala and Singh, 2018; Grotts and Widner Johnson, 2013), but there is little or no knowledge about the direct relationship between the motivations leading to brand loyalty (Samala and Singh, 2018; Grotts and Widner Johnson, 2013; Bhaduri and Stanforth, 2016; Tangsupwattana and Liu, 2017).
2.3 Symbolic Consumption
The symbolic consumption of products or services build, validate or convey consumers of their own identities (Tangsupwattana and Liu, 2018). Symbolic advantages are external values that corresponds to the non-product related attributes that give consumers a number of brand meanings to satisfy the social approval and self-expression needs of the consumer (Theng-So et al., 2013). Esmaeilpour (2015) proposed personal congruency and brand prestige to be affecting brand loyalty indirectly. According to findings by Grotts & Widner Johnson (2013), Millennials are driven solely by social motives, based on the importance of status consumption and self-expression.
2.3.1 Conspicuous consumption
The millennial group culture makes them concerned about others’ opinions and makes them involved in their purchases as a wrong purchase could lead to social consequences (Lazarevic, 2012). Grotts and Widner Johnson (2013) propose Millennials incorporate tendencies of status consumption and use products to portray themselves rather than because of quality. However, Erdogmus and Budeyri-Turan (2012) found in their study and the conspicuous consumption of brand prestige to have an indirect positive effect on brand loyalty, with a meditation of quality of product and design. They also assert that conspicuous brands can play an essential social role, in particular for young people looking for peer acceptance while retaining their ability to express their personality and tastes through the products they consume. To achieve the desire for social status and prestige, consumers adopt conspicuous consumption of luxury products (Giovannini et al., 2015; Seo and Buchanan-Oliver, 2015). The more conspicuous a brand is, the more respect can be achieved by its consumption (Seo and Buchanan-Oliver, 2015). Bhaduri and Stanforth, 2016 found that, especially in regard to status consumption, psychological values like reference group influence, materialism and prestige sensitivity have been known to influence consumption, and especially the status-driven luxury consumption among Millennials. They also suggest Millennials to be driven to use status consumption as medium to portray wealth and prestige and the cohort tend to have characteristics of materialism (Bhaduri and Stanforth, 2016). The findings in Tangsupwattana and Liu’s (2017) study on Millennial consumers in Thailand suggests the need for individuals to impress others through their purchases drives the symbolic conspicuous consumption. In the study of Giovannini et al. (2015) it is proposed Millennial consumers who are driven by conspicuous consumption are loyal to brand and have a high intention level of luxury fashion consumption.
Previous research has investigated the behaviour of Millennial luxury fashion consumers and their influences, but there is little or no knowledge about the direct relationship between the Millennial consumers’ conspicuous consumption leading to brand loyalty. The studies propose Millennial consumers’ conspicuous consumption to be a motivation leading to brand loyalty among luxury brands, it is although, while the conspicuous consumption is related to other motivations (Giovannini et al., 2015; Esmaeilpour, 2015; Tangsupwattana and Liu, 2017; Tangsupwattana and Liu, 2018). Previous literature has also explored conspicuous consumption motivations of Millennial consumers in the context of symbolic consumption, and therefore included concepts like brand tribalism and brand prestige in the category of symbolic consumption affecting the motivations of consumption and brand loyalty (Esmaeilpour, 2015; Lazarevic, 2012). Some studies have limited nationalities and geographical areas represented or are focused on other consumer markets and generational cohorts. Focus on other market and luxury categories have also been explored in previous research (Tangsupwattana and Liu, 2017; Grotts and Widner Johnson, 2013). There is a gap in the research regarding the Millennial consumers’ conspicuous consumption of luxury fashion personal goods in specific, and the relationship between the conspicuous consumption motivation of Millennial luxury consumers and brand loyalty. In this study the following hypothesises are therefore proposed.
H1: Millennial luxury fashion consumers purchasing luxury fashion personal goods will have a strong conspicuous consumption motivation.
H2: Conspicuous consumption has a significant and positive effect on the formation of brand loyalty in luxury fashion personal goods market for Millennial consumers.
Consumers are deliberately choosing product and brands to communicate their self-image to the public, but also in order to reaffirm their self-identity though the positive reflection of themselves (Giovannini et al., 2015). Samala and Singh (2018) propose the Millennials’ self-concept motivations leads to brand engagement. Their findings also affirm customer brand-engagement to be the most effective tool to create customer satisfaction and loyalty, as Millennials exhibit themselves through the brands they wear. The consumption of certain products supplies a symbolic way to create the self and self-identity and broadcast this to others and that they have a fundamental motivational impact on Millennials to engage with the brand socially. The congruency between brand and themselves is critical for brand consumption and possibly brand loyalty as the Millennial consumer use brand to express themselves, was proposed in Lazarevic’s (2012) findings. The study of Tangsupwattana and Liu (2018) suggests when the concept of extended self is taken into account it becomes easier to understand the concept of symbolic consumption, as the self-concept is the consumers’ perception or evaluation of themselves. They propose consumer choose the brand whose image will match their own self-image. They propose research also shown one decisive factor for consumers to recommend a brand to others depends on to what extent the consumer perceives the brand to be closely connected with his or her own self-concept (Tangsupwattana and Liu, 2018). Erdogmus and Budeyri-Turan (2012) found brand prestige to have an indirect positive effect on brand loyalty with a meditation of quality of product and design, on Turkish Millennials in the market of ready-to-wear. They also suggest the congruence of personality to have a decisive role in the decision-making and adoption of brands as consumers prefer and become loyal to brands that are consistent with their actual or ideal self-concepts. These findings are similar to the findings of Esmaeilpour (2015) who suggests Iranian Millennial watches and sunglasses consumers’ personality congruence (meditated by perceived brand quality) and brand prestige (meditated by perceived brand quality and brand attitude) to have an indirect positive effect on brand loyalty.
Previous research has examined the behaviour and influences of Millennial luxury consumer, although little or no knowledge is available of the direct relationship between Millennial consumers’ self-concept congruency with the brand further leading to brand loyalty (Lazarevic, 2012). The studies suggest self-concept of Millennial consumers to be a motivation for brand loyalty among luxury brands, although the conception of self-concept is linked to other motivations (Giovannini et al., 2015; Liu et al., 2012; Erdogmus and Budeyri-Turan, 2012; Lazarevic, 2012) or how self-concept motivations among Millennials relates to other concepts (Samala and Singh, 2018; Tangsupwattana and Liu, 2017) . Previous literature explores Millennial consumers’ motivation of self-concept in the context of symbolic consumption and therefore includes concepts such as personality congruence and self-esteem in the symbolic consumption category, as together affecting the consumption motivations and brand loyalty (Esmaeilpour, 2015; Tangsupwattana and Liu, 2018). Some studies concentrate on other consumer market and cohorts or have limited nationalities and geographical areas represented. There is a gap in the research regarding the Millennial consumers’ self-concept motivation of luxury fashion personal goods in specific, and the relationship between the self-concept motivation of Millennial luxury consumers and brand loyalty. In this study the following hypothesises are therefore proposed.
H3: Millennial luxury consumers purchasing luxury fashion personal goods will have a strong self-concept consumption motivation
H4: Self-concept congruence has a significant and positive effect on the formation of brand loyalty in luxury fashion personal goods market for Millennial consumers.
2.4 Customer-Based Brand Equity Model
Brand equity is known as consumer-based equity in the reflection of a consumer or marketing perspective (Pappu et al., 2005). The awareness affects the consumer’s perceptions of the brand and contributes to the perceptive evolution of brand equity (Rodrigues & Vitorino Martins, 2016). ‘Customer-based brand equity is defined as the differential effect of brand knowledge on consumer response to the marketing of a brand’ (Keller, 1993, p. 8).
Consumer-based brand equity has developed out of two paradigms`: cognitive psychology and economic signalling (Rodrigues & Vitorino Martins, 2016), but dominant research focuses more precisely on memory structure, in cognitive psychology (Aaker, 1991; Keller, 1993; Pappu et al., 2005; Rodrigues and Vitorino Martins, 2016). In this study, it is assumed that brand equity is understood to be a multidimensional consumer structure, adding capital to the branded product, enabling the brand to have more loyal consumers. Aaker (1991) and Keller (1993) suggests explaining brand equity in the consumers’ minds based on their memory associations, which takes the brand loyalty into account as a result of brand equity recognition. The definition by Aaker (1991, p. 15) suggests brand equity to be “a set of brand assets and liabilities linked to a brand, its name and symbol, that add to or subtract from the value provided by a product or service to a firm and/or to that firm’s customers”.
2.4.1 Keller’s (1993) consumer-based brand equity model
Keller (1993) contribute to the most brand equity definition being most comprehensively compatible for luxury fashion. He presented a conceptual brand equity model from the consumer’s perspective, where ‘customer-based brand equity occurs when the consumer is familiar with the brand and holds some favourable, strong, and unique brand associations in memory’ (p. 1). Keller proposed the brand knowledge is deduced by the brand image and brand awareness and the attributes and relationships of brand associations is conceptualising the brand knowledge. A positive brand image (i.e. favourable, strong, and unique brand associations) and high brand awareness levels should enhance the likelihood of brand preference and increase the loyalty of consumers, which may also boost the effectiveness of marketing communications. In the model Keller (1993) suggests consumers also create belief associations through their own experience with the product or service called secondary associations. As these are more self-relevant, they may be more forceful in the memory of the consumer. The inferences from some already existing brand associations also creates brand associations. The strength of these inferences depends on the relationship between the attributes and benefits correlated by the consumer. For example, some consumers may infer high quality, or attributes as prestige and social status from high price of a product or service. Inferred association also occur when the brand associations are linked to other memory information not instantaneously connected to the product or service. The global associations such as credibility, or more specific attributes relating to the country of origin, company culture, distribution channels, events, or endorsers of the product or service, may transfer to relate to the product or service. Some of these associations could be categorised as factual sources, but the emphasis the factor receives will determine the strength of the association. When establishing a connection with a company the associations existing for that company, like reputation and credibility, then become secondary associations for the brand (Keller, 1993), occurring for example when a brand joins a conglomerate company like LVMH or Kering. Keller (1993) also propose in his model that beliefs and evaluations about the country of origin may also be associated to the brand. Different resources and capabilities bring certain expectations of the product or services produced in the different countries. Association regarding the distribution channel may be linked to a product on the basis of beliefs regarding the for example different levels of service and exclusivity linked to the distribution. When using a celebrity or a brand endorser there are attributes of the personality attached with that person associating to the brand. If the associations are favourable a well-known person could lend the trustful or attractive associations to the product or service. The brand may also bring on associations from an event where attributes and associations are characterised in memory. By providing insights into the extent to which brand associations are shared, affecting their favourability, strength and uniqueness the consumer-based brand equity can be measured to some extent. Congruency can be evaluated through the comparison of consumers’ associations to establish which associations are common or distinctive. The consistency and cohesiveness of the brand image should be appraised with regard to the business definition, and to what extent the predetermined attributes and benefits of the product or service meet the core needs and desires of the consumers (Keller, 1993).
Chapter Three :METHODOLOGY
3.1 Methodology Introduction
This chapter will outline the methodological approaches and techniques with a detailed framework of the research design, including interpretation and justification of the fundamental philosophies of this study, its approach, methods and strategies adopted, and the means by which data and primary research were collected and subsequently analysed (Saunders et. al, 2016). Additionally, the study’s limitations and ethical considerations are fully recognised and outlined. Primary research was conducted in order to address the limitations of the literature review and effectively fulfil the research aims and objectives.
As the basis of the research strategy, the philosophy clarifies the researcher’s perception of the world, which will influence the understanding and examination of the context of the study (Saunders et. al, 2016; Bryman & Bell, 2015).
Two key aspects need to be considered when it comes to research philosophy – ontology and epistemology.
3.1 Research Philosophies
Saunders et al. (2016) propose the research philosophy to be characterised as the ‘system of beliefs and assumptions about the development of knowledge’ (p. 124). The main consideration of the ontological philosophy is whether social phenomena is assembled through social actors’ attitudes and actions or whether they exist independently of the social actors (Bryman and Bell, 2015; Saunders, et. al., 2016). With the ontological considerations it is understood how the research is conducted, but the second components epistemology is considered to understand the knowledge produced is sound (Bryman & Bell, 2015). ‘Epistemology concerns the researchers’ understanding of acceptable knowledge’ (Bryman and Bell, 2015, p. 26), examining methods and philosophy as natural science studies (Bryman & Bell, 2015). The epistemological studies therefore regard to what is, or should be, considered an acceptable disciplinary knowledge.
Ontology shapes how we strategies our research and is affecting how to theorise the nature of reality. Objectivism is an ontological consideration addressing the social phenomena that is studied is external to observers and occur objectively (Saunders et. al, 2016).
Objectivism implies that social phenomena is external and exists independently and cannot be influenced. We work as the role of an observer and the reality is objective and independent of our role (Bryman & Bell, 2015). This study will through an objectivist standpoint observe the reality of Millennial luxury fashion consumers. The questionnaire is presented anonymously online to make sure reality is independent of our role.
Positivism is an epistemological consideration where research is used to test theories to supply material for the development of laws, execution of data collections and analysis in such way that generalised proposals can be tested in the form of hypothesis (Bryman & Bell, 2015). There is a focus on detecting observable and measurable facts and consistencies to produce credible and significant data (Saunders et. al, 2016). Positivism is informed by the objectivist ontological position and works as an explanation of human behaviour. The behaviour of Millennial luxury fashion consumers will be explored through the collection and analysis of data in this survey to be tested in the form of a hypothesis.
3.1.3 Explanatory studies
Explanatory research provides studies that establish casual relationships between variables. The focus of explanatory studies is to study a situation or a problem to explain the relationships between variables (Saunders et. al, 2016). This study will explore the relationships between the self-concept and conspicuous consumption motivations and their effect on brand loyalty among Millennial luxury fashion consumers.
3.2 Research Design
Deductive theory and hypothesis are developed, and a research strategy designed to test hypothesises and translate them it into operational terms (Bryman & Bell, 2015). Hypothesises have been developed from primary research about the motivations behind luxury fashion good personal consumption for Millennials.
The research strategy of qualitative research accentuates quantification of the accumulation and examination of data (Bryman & Bell, 2015). The application of data collection evaluates the propositions or hypothesis relating to existing theories (Saunders et. Al, 2016). The emphasis of testing theories of the objectivism and positivism entails a relationship between theory and research when carrying out a deductive approach. The deductive approach takes the view of social reality as an external and objective reality and has integrated natural scientific practices and norms, in particular those of positivism (Bryman & Bell, 2015). The deductive approach search to explain causal relationship between variables and concepts (Saunders et. al, 2016).
3.3 Research Strategy
3.3.1 Quantitative research
The focus of quantitative research is usually the quantification in data collection and analysis (Bryman & Bell, 2015). Quantitative research investigates the relationship between variables, that are numerically measured and examined using a variety of statistical and graphical techniques (Saunders et. al, 2016). A single data collection technique of a questionnaire was used, making this a mono method quantitative study.
The strategy of using a questionnaire was used as it allows the collection of standardised data from a sizeable population (Saunders et. al, 2016). The data collected can be used to provide possible reasons behind relationships of variables.
For questions to be understood the same way by each participant the questions were ensured being easy to understand, questions were neutral in its standing, and answers where provided on a Likert scale of seven points. An odd number of categories was chosen for respondents to be able to stand on neutral middle ground (Antonius, 2013).
Using both haphazard (convenience) and voluntary sampling techniques, a non-probability approach was used (Saunders et. al., 2016). The individual decides to participate in the research (self-selection), and then forwards the link to other participants volunteering to be part of the research, resulting in a snowball effect. To gain more respondents, after receiving approval from the host, the questionnaire was also published in several popular Facebook groups/pages relating to luxury fashion. The benefits of this sampling process were the speed at which the survey could be achieved because planning was not much needed, which was ideal by cause of the project’s time scale.
3.3.3. Data analysis
Data was entered into the SPSS software program to analyse the quantitative research. By using SPSS, the data can be analysed more precisely and more effective than if it was to be analysed by hand. The appropriate analysis of the statistical results depends on the interpretation of statistical techniques and methods, and the accurate connections between the statistical findings and the theoretical and conceptual framework underpinning them (Antonius, 2013). The questionnaire variables were analysed through Independent T-test, Descriptive Statistics, Correlations, and Regression testing. By using these tests an analysis can be undertaken on the acceptance or refusal of null hypothesis by relations within the data. If a social or human phenomenon, like the shopping motivations of the Millennial cohort, is properly quantified it can provide a base for analysis on figures and statistics. It enables an accurate description of the phenomenon, determining whether some of the variables are linked, and may even predict the phenomenon’s development Antonius, 2013). The software SPSS was ideal for this research as the data from online questionnaires can be edited and data can be thoroughly explored. The analysis of the data allows further interest in these relationships in qualitative research.
3.4 Research Ethics
Ethics consists of behavioural norms and standards guiding the moral choices about our behaviour and relationships with others. The intention of research ethics is to protect anyone from being harmed or adversely affected by the research activities (Hair et. Al., 2016). With respect to ethics of the online survey, there were no minors participating and all respondents were informed of the purpose of the research to ensure that there was no psychological or emotional harm. Information was provided at the beginning of the survey, enabling participant to understand what the study involved and how their presupposes were to be used. To protect the privacy of the respondents the participation was completely voluntary and anonymous. Collection of the primary data and analysis was conducted in conformity with the University Code of Practice on Research Ethics (2019).
The use of the Internet makes it possible to easily share the survey and accumulate answers, but they are biased and tend to be homogeneous, increasing the risk of sampling errors (Bryman & Bell, 2015). The survey is also only representative of limited sample of the entire population, given female respondents are dominating the number of responses.
The study acknowledges the methodological limitations associated with the research approach, perhaps the most significant being the short time in which the research was conducted. Furthermore, although adequate for this thesis, the study acknowledges that the samples used were relatively small in size and thus recognise the limited generalisability of results. While this may have an adverse effect on reliability and validity, the study provides a basis for further research on the subject.
Chapter Four :FINDINGS AND ANALYSIS
4.1 Sample Profile
In all, 211 questionnaires were distributed online, and 203 usable questionnaires were obtained. The questionnaires stated as not usable were disregarded on the grounds of respondents stating they the answer ‘Never’ when asked the number of occasions they purchase luxury fashion personal goods every month, and therefore they are not valid respondents in this study as they are not luxury fashion consumers.
The majority of respondents (73.4 per cent) were female. Around 18.7 per cent of the respondents are born between 1980 and 1985, 37.9 per cent are born between 1985 and 1990, 19.7 per cent are born between 1990 and 1995, 15.8 per cent are born between 1995 and 1990, and 7.9 per cent are born between 1996 and 2000. The nationalities varied between 40 different countries in Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Middle East and Africa. Most respondents hold a nationality in Sweden (21.2 per cent) and United Kingdom (18.7 per cent). Majority of respondents (55.7 per cent) indicated they purchased luxury fashion personal goods one or two times a month, and the remaining respondents purchased luxury fashion personal goods three or four times (27.6 per cent) or five times or more (16.7 per cent) a month.
The Central Limit Theorem (CLT) indicate that if the sample data are generally normal, then the sampling distribution data are normal as well. In also states if the sample size in quantitative research exceeds a number of 30, then the sampling distribution are approximately normal as well. As this sample size exceeds 30 it can be assumed as normality based on CLT.
An Independent T-test was performed to conclude if there was any difference in the Mean between the two genders relating to any of the questions, but no significance was found concluding females and males participating in this survey’s responses eventuated in the same Mean. This study will perform a rejection region for significance statistics over the .05 alpha level.
4.2 Conspicuous Consumption
Descriptive statistics are used to describe the situation in a way that highlights the important numerical characteristics when data is summarised (Antonius, 2013). As the questionnaire is based on Likert Scales the preferred measure will not produce output in decimal form, as interpreting this type of data with decimals is very subjective. For this data the Mode is more appropriate descriptive statistics as they are showing the most popular response and provides meaningful interpretation for Likert Scale type of data. On the 7-point Likert Scale (1= Strongly Disagree, 7=Strongly Agree) the questions related to
conspicuous consumption shows the Modes 6,6,6 and 5 (Figure 4.1). This implies Millennials consuming luxury products will have a strong conspicuous consumption motivation. However, the average Mean of the four questions (5.3) is lower than the average Mean of the questions related to self-concept (5.46).
Figure 4.1 – Descriptive Statistics Conspicuous Consumption
Pearson Correlation was performed to find correlation between the questions relating to conspicuous consumption. A significant correlation (p = .005) was found between the questions ‘I buy luxury fashion products to match my financial status’ and ‘It delivers a message to people around me when I buy luxury fashion products’ (Pearson correlation .197), meaning there is a very weak correlation between the two. A significant correlation (p =.014) was also found between the two other questions ‘Luxury fashion products shows others that I am sophisticated’ and ‘I choose luxury fashion products or brands to create my own style that everyone admires’, showing a very weak correlation between the two (Pearson correlation 0.172).
The questions related to self-identity all show a Mode of 6 (Figure 4.2), insinuating Millennials consuming luxury products will have a strong self-concept consumption motivation. The combined Means divided by three gives an average Mean of 5.46. A Mean of 5.46 on a 7-point Likert Scale shows the Millennials participants in this questionnaire are agreeing to the statements regarding self-concept, conspicuous consumption and brand loyalty as the Neutral value on this Likert Scale is 4.
Figure 4.2 – Descriptive Statistics Self-Concept
A clear notion of the link between variables can be developed by the statistical association concept where values of a single individual on two different variables can somehow be related, and also determine the strength of the association defining a numerical measure concluding the future prediction (Antonius, 2013). Pearson Correlation was performed to find correlation between the questions related to self-concept. A significant correlation (p =.001) was found between the questions ‘It is important the luxury fashion brand I purchase reflects who I really am’ and ‘My choice of luxury fashion brands depends on whether they reflect how I see myself but not how others see me’ (Pearsons correlation .239), meaning there is a weak correlation between the two, implicating the prediction is not good.
4.4 Brand Loyalty
The questions related to brand loyalty show the Modes 6,5,6 and 6 Figure 4.3). The Mode for the question ‘When purchasing luxury fashion products, I usually purchase from the brands I purchased from in the past’ was equal between 5 and 6 but as the Mode answer is 5.36 and therefore closer to 5 the Mode will be calculated as 5. The average Mean of the four questions is 5.5, which is higher than the average Mean of the questions regarding self-concept (5.46) and conspicuous consumption (5.3).
Figure 4.3 – Descriptive Statistics Brand Loyalty
The technique known as ANOVA may be used to analyse the variance of different groups (Antonius, 2013). In this study the technique will be used to determine whether the average of the dependent variables related to brand loyalty categories are different for various categories of the independent variables related to self-concept and conspicuous consumption, and whether the link is considered statistically significant. An ANOVA test was performed with the independent value ‘I consider myself loyal to the luxury fashion brands that I have purchased in the past’, with the dependent questions relating to self-concept and conspicuous consumption. There was a significance found between the question and the self-concept based question ‘It is important the luxury fashion brand I purchase reflects who I really am’ (p = 0.001), and the questions relating to conspicuous consumption ‘It delivers a message to people around me when I buy luxury fashion products’ (p = 0.024) and ‘Luxury fashion products shows to others that I am sophisticated’ (p = 0.002).
The conspicuous consumption motivation ‘luxury fashion products shows other that I am sophisticated’ will, according to Linear Regression, lead to ‘I consider myself loyal to the luxury fashion products I have purchased in the past’ by .215 units (Figure 4.4), which shows a weak positive correlation. A regressions line can provide a simpler model to describe the link between two variables and future predictions (Antonius, 2013).
Figure 4.5 – Regression Brand Loyalty Single Dependent Value
The self-congruency motivation ‘I buy from luxury brands consistent with the characteristics with which I describe myself’ (p = .026) and the conspicuous consumption motivations ‘I choose luxury fashion products or brands to create my own style that everyone admires’ (p = .003) and ‘luxury fashion products shows to others that I am sophisticated’ (p = .025) all have significant linear regression with the brand loyalty variable ‘I won’t buy other brands if there is a luxury fashion brand offering similar products’ (Figure 4.5). The correlation between the categories ‘I buy from luxury fashion brands consistent with which I describe myself’ (.148) and ‘Luxury fashion products shows to others that I am sophisticated’ (.137) is weak but positive. For the category ‘I choose luxury fashion products or brands to create my own style that everyone admires’ the correlation (-.170) is weak and negative.
Figure 4.6 – Regression Brand Loyalty Category Value
The measures related to brand loyalty are made into a category with the average Mean. A linear regression comparing the measures related to self-concept and conspicuous consumption was performed (Figure 4.6), resulting in three values significant under the .01 alpha level (Kirkpatrick and Brooke, 2013) Significance was found for the conspicuous consumption related questions ‘luxury fashion products shows to other that I am sophisticated’ (p = .003) and ‘I choose luxury fashion products or brands to create my own style that everyone admires’ (p = .001), as well as the self-concept related question ‘I buy from luxury fashion brands consistent with the characteristics which I describe myself’ (p = .001), although all correlations are weak.
Figure 4.7 – Regression Brand Loyalty & Conspicuous Consumption Category Value
The statements regarding self-concept and separately conspicuous consumption were made into categories compared through linear regression to the category with statements regarding brand loyalty to investigate relation between the categories. With Brand loyalty as dependent variable there was found no significance found when compared to self-concept category. When brand loyalty category was dependent variable and conspicuous consumption was independent variable (Figure 4.7), significance was found on a 0.1 alpha scale although the correlation was weak and negative (-.123).
Chapter Five DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
The uniqueness of the study is examining the concepts of conspicuous consumption, self-concept and brand loyalty together. Although these concepts are closely related in marketing and consumer-behaviour, the influence of one on the other in consumer-related purchasing behaviour is interesting. The study helps to understand the self-concept and conspicuous consumption behaviours of the unique consumer segment Millennials.
The motivations behind luxury fashion consumption play an important part in consumers’ actual and intended behaviour (Giovannini et al., 2015) and this study explored the consumption related behaviours conspicuous consumption and self-concept and their relationship to brand loyalty. Lazarevic (2012) proposed a brand having loyal Millennial consumers leads to many positive outcomes and the ability to influence other segments in the market. Millennials where chosen for this study because previous literature on luxury consumption mainly focused on other generational cohorts, and there is a growing interest in the luxury consumption among the Millennial cohort. The market segment is of strategic importance for the luxury fashion market with its large and increasing purchasing power (Rolling and Sadachar, 2018; Giovannini et al., 2015). Although this study was aimed to Millennial luxury fashion consumers, they have proven in this study to be an valuable market for luxury fashion personal goods as majority of respondents (55.7 per cent) indicated they purchased luxury fashion personal goods one or two times a month, and the remaining respondents purchased luxury fashion personal goods three or four times (27.6 per cent) or five times or more (16.7 per cent) a month.
5.1.2 Luxury fashion
The purpose of this study is to investigate Millennials’ consumption for personal luxury goods, where luxury is defined as brands characterised for going beyond functionality and affirm the image and status of a person (Liu et al., 2012; Esmaeilpour, 2015) which, except for functional utility, the simple use or exhibition of branded products gives prestige to owners (Vigneron and Johnson, 2004). Personal luxury goods are defined as clothing, shoes, accessories, jewellery, bags and watches. The personal luxury goods market is exceptional not only for its high market value, but also for its growth rate.
Brands can be used to project consumers’ self-concept, which is essentially symbolic (Tangsupwattana and Liu, 2018). The brand loyalty literature is added as new approaches should be proposed to existing marketing instruments for Millennials. The development of brand image should correspond to the self-concept of Millennials, as it encourages them to build a relationship with the brand (Lazarevic, 2012). By communication of brand image and brand equity consistency between the influences affecting Millennials’ luxury fashion consumption may be achieved, and subsequently brand loyalty (Tangsupwattana & Liu 2018). Managers of brands can create a myth around the brand with an authentic brand history about its origins and fundamentals. In addition, Millennials have access to different media that that marketing managers should consider in order to create an appropriate brand image (Esmaeilpour, 2015).
5.1.4 Conspicuous consumption
Millennials appears to be driven by status and conspicuous consumption more than previous generations as they use goods and services as an instrument representing wealth and affluence (Tangsupwattana and Liu, 2017). Brands encouraging a specific lifestyle or personal values would be helpful when targeting Millennials. Conspicuous consumption highlights some significant aspects of luxury branding such as the leading luxury brands having a global presence of and premium prices without decreasing demand (Seo and Buchanan-Oliver, 2015). The results of this study indicate Millennials do possess conspicuous consumption motivations for the consumption of luxury goods, especially in regard to the conveying of a message to others when consuming luxury fashion personal goods. Limited edition or exclusive lines of products and marketing of the products as high status could appeal to the conspicuous consumption of Millennial consumers. By providing luxury fashion goods at a lower price points in the form of for example sunglasses and accessories, it provides Millennials an interaction with the brand and which may continue to develop the relationship with the brand in the future. It could also be a suitable strategy to identify opinion leaders and generate enticement to gain their encouragement.
The self-concept is an expression of the consumers’ self-identity and consumer values, which needs to be adopted in order to acquire the comprehensive picture of symbolic consumption of personal luxury goods (Tangsupwattana and Liu, 2018). The communicated brand image and brand equity can provide Millennial consumers congruency with their own sense of self and the brand (Lazarevic, 2012). Consumers can develop their self-concept and relationship with others through the use of luxury goods and services (Tangsupwattana and Liu, 2018). The results of this study indicated that Millennials do possess a self-concept motivation for buying fashion luxury personal goods, especially in regard to Millennials consuming luxury fashion products reflecting how they see themselves. These results are consistent with the results of Giovannini et al. 2015 who found the self-congruency motivation of consumers affects the consumption behaviour and consumers purchase luxury product congruent with their self-image. The findings of Tangsupwattana and Liu (2017) also propose self-concept to affect the purchase intentions of Generation Y in Thailand. By marketing a luxury fashion brand as having a personal link with customers, luxury fashion brands will appeal to consumers motivated by self-concept. Acknowledging these features could help to create and manage a brand image that is consistent with its Millennial luxury fashion consumers’ personality characteristics. In different promotion programs such as advertising and public relations the existing concordance between brand and consumer personality is to be emphasised. Using marketing to portray a brand symbol or message and introduce product lines connected to certain consumers, such as sustainability, could also be effective when appealing to Millennials.
5.1.6 Brand loyalty
Millennials do possess brand loyal tendencies findings in this study shows. They view themselves as loyal and will not consume a different brand if the brand they find themselves loyal to is offering similar products, especially. Conspicuous consumption motivations in this study finds no relationship to brand loyalty. However, the results show Millennials to consider themselves to have conspicuous consumption motivations and brand loyal tendencies. There is a weak positive relationship between Millennials in this study regarding themselves as sophisticated in others’ eyes when consuming luxury personal goods and being brand loyal. Although, when the conspicuous consumption category was compared to the brand loyal category the relationship was weak and negative, and not significant for the measurement requirements of this study. This does not correlate to the findings of Giovannini et al. (2015) that conspicuous consumers also are brand loyal and exhibit a high level of luxury fashion consumption intentions.
The findings in this study shows no relationship between self-concept motivations and brand loyalty. However, the results show Millennials to consider themselves to have self-concept motivations and brand loyal tendencies. There is a weak positive relationship between Millennials consuming luxury fashion brands consistent with how they see themselves and brand loyalty. When self-concept category was compared to brand loyalty category there was no relationship found. The findings of this study do not correlate with findings in other research. Tangsupwattana and Liu (2017) propose self-concept to affect the purchase intentions of Generation Y in Thailand. The accomplishment of brand loyalty was proposed in Lazarevic’s (2012) findings, to be determent on the achievement of congruency between the Millennial consumer and the brand. Erdogmus and Budeyri-Turan (2012) found in their study personality congruence and brand prestige to have an indirect positive effect on brand loyalty with a meditation of quality of product and design, on Turkish Millennials in the market of ready-to-wear, which may be factors affecting the luxury market as well. These findings are similar to Esmaeilpour (2015), who suggests that Iranian Millennial luxury consumers personality congruence and brand prestige have an indirect positive effect on brand loyalty, through the perceived brand quality and brand attitude.
Although findings in this study could not find any significant relationship between Millennials’ conspicuous consumption and self-concept motivations and brand loyalty, it does not exclude other sample profiles and methodology to provide different outcomes.
5.2 Conclusion and Limitations
5.2.1 Limitations and future recommendations
These findings have several implications. As brands become less and less distinct in terms of product attributes, it is becoming more important for marketing luxury brands how to develop or improve brand loyalty via non-product attributes (Liu et al., 2012). Self-concept and conspicuous consumption motivations are exhibited among Millennial luxury fashion consumers. Although no relationship was found in this study between these concepts and brand loyalty, they may still be key factors in maintaining a long-term relationship between the Millennial consumer and the luxury fashion brand. There may be different findings if the sample profile was different, and the views of the respondents may differ if the data were collected in a different format or location. There are a few limitations in sample size and methodology. While the sample is justified by the statistical techniques applied, the generalisability of the results would be greater by increasing the sample size as this size may not represent the whole population. In addition, another consumer group could be targeted in future studies as this study only considered Millennial luxury fashion consumers. The concepts of self-concept and conspicuous consumption may be sensitive to use in different cultures, as well as the perception of luxury brands.
The symbolic consumption concepts applied in this study is self-concept and conspicuous consumption. Because of the powerful symbolic values of luxury brands (Liu et al., 2012), the effect of other symbolic consumption motivations or an advanced analysis of the different self-concepts (actual self, ideal self, social self) may broaden the understanding of the impact of self-concept and conspicuous consumption motivations for luxury fashion consumption among Millennials. The luxury fashion consumption motivations and purchase behaviour of Millennial consumers must be more thoroughly tested and improved. This study did not consider the influence of other aspects of the experience of the luxury consumption of Millennial consumers.
As luxury is a concept that is subjective, future studies may examine the response of consumers to a series of named luxury fashion brands. In addition, this study examined luxury fashion personal goods, but further insight could be gained by exploring other categories of luxury. Due to the purchasing power and possible market domination of Millennial luxury fashion consumers, the factors driving brand loyalty and research exploring this sector is timely and fundamental.
The aim of this study was to explore the self-concept and conspicuous consumption motivations of Millennials before purchase of luxury fashion goods leading to brand loyalty. The main reason for selecting Millennials as the subject respondent is that they are already an influential luxury consumer group and due to the purchasing strength of luxury fashion personal goods in the generational cohort, the congruent will in the future dominate the market. Contemporary literature highlights the significance, both present and in the future, of the Millennial consumer segment because of its large size, symbolic consumption and substantial spending power. However, it does not address what motivates the Millennial luxury fashion consumers to be brand loyal.
Findings in this study confirm the conspicuous consumption and self-concept as motivations of Millennials’ consumption of luxury fashion personal goods. Conspicuous consumption of luxury fashion personal goods is a way for Millennial consumers to achieve their desire for social status and success. The consumption of certain luxury fashion personal goods is a symbolic way for Millennial consumers to create and communicate themselves and their identity to others. The objectives of this study was to investigate the conspicuous consumption and self-concept and if they are motivations for Millennial luxury consumers’ consumption of personal luxury goods and explore if these motivations lead to Millennial luxury consumers’ brand loyalty of luxury fashion brands. While no link between these concepts and brand loyalty was discovered in this study, these concepts can remain key factors in the long-term relationship between the Millennial consumer and luxury fashion brands. Branding is important for brand loyalty creation in Millennials, because the brand image and brand equity is evaluated by Millennial consumers before purchase to see whether the brand is congruent with their own sense of self. Loyal consumers are committed to the brand as they assume it to be superior to the alternatives.
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This is an anonymous survey provided to gain insights in the motivations and value perceptions of Millennials towards luxury fashion consumption. Luxury fashion is a definition meaning different to everyone but in this context, it refers to brands such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci, and fashion brands you appreciate to be of similar level of luxury and luxury fashion products with characteristics of high quality, exclusiveness, high price and social visibility. The luxury fashion products referred to in this context are personal luxury fashion goods, including apparel, shoes, bags, jewellery and watches. This survey will be used as research for a dissertation about luxury fashion branding for Millennials at University 2019. By completing this questionnaire, you accept the anonymous answers to be analysed. The survey will take 5-10 minutes and will mainly have questionnaire items rated on a 7-point Likert scale. Thank you!
Please specify your year of birth
Please state your nationality
Please state your country (countries) of residence
Self-concept (7-point Likert scale; Strongly disagree – Strongly agree)
I buy from luxury fashion brands consistent with the characteristics with which I describe myself
It is important the luxury fashion brand I purchase reflects who I really am
My choice of luxury fashion brands depends on whether they reflect how I see myself, but not how others see me
Conspicuous consumption (7-point Likert scale; Strongly disagree – Strongly agree)
It delivers a message to people around me when I buy luxury fashion products
I buy luxury fashion products to match my financial status
I choose luxury fashion products or brands to create my own style that everyone admires
Luxury fashion products shows to others that I am sophisticated
Brand loyalty (7-point Likert scale; Strongly disagree – Strongly agree)
I consider myself loyal to the luxury fashion brands that I have purchased in the past
I will not buy other brands if there is a luxury fashion brand offering similar products
When purchasing luxury fashion products, I usually only purchase from the brands I purchased before
I recommend the luxury fashion brands I purchase to others
||Dependent Variable (Brand Loyalty)
||Dependent Variable (Brand Loyalty)
||Dependent Variable (Brand Loyalty)
|‘Luxury fashion products shows other that I am sophisticated’
||‘I consider myself loyal to the luxury fashion brands that I have purchased in the past’
Weak positive correlation
|‘I won’t buy other brands if there is a luxury fashion brand offering similar products’
Weak positive correlation
|Brand loyalty categories average Mean
Weak positive correlation
|‘I buy from luxury fashion brands consistent with which I describe myself’
||‘I won’t buy other brands if there is a luxury fashion brand offering similar products’
Weak positive correlation
|Brand loyalty categories average Mean
Weak positive correlation
|‘I choose luxury fashion products or brands to create my own style that everyone admires’ the correlation
||‘I won’t buy other brands if there is a luxury fashion brand offering similar products’
Weak negative correlation
|Brand loyalty categories average Mean
Weak negative correlation