Consumer Behavior Social Psychology in Fashion Industry

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Junior (College 3rd year) ・Psychology ・APA ・10 Sources

Awareness of the social psychology of customer behavior is at the cutting edge of a promising fashion industry. In addition to judgments, social psychologists have sought to expand the horizons of cognitive emotions, choices, self-identity and how these variables configure a balanced customer conduct in buying decisions. Bagozzi et al. (2010) note that a thorough understanding of customer social psychology proves to be an important aspect of marketing and realizing the desired outcomes or review and profitability. Consumer preferences and universal patterns affecting buying decisions are driving the continuous changes in the fashion industry. Perceptions and attitudes of consumers play a vital role in fashion and the agitated nature of the industry motivates the essentially of having proper personal touch with the consumers and appropriate flow of information. Keeping the consumers updated with the dynamic trends of fashion models cultivates a desirable purchasing behavior. Owing to the competitiveness of the industry, marketers have to be innovative and understand that they are influential assets towards consumer impulsive behavior and attitudes driven at selection. The quality and quantity of information given impacts on the social attitudes and psychological buying. This paper will discuss the social psychology of consumer behavior and decisional choices towards the fashion industry. It will explain how to influence the consumer behavior through fashion apparels and customer-centric strategies. It will also discuss the social psychology of impulse buying behavior in fashion-oriented consumers.

The Significance of Fashion in People’s Lives

Fashion is typically a significant and a fundamental aspect of the human behavior. It forms a new delight to consumers along with being a special feature that people strive at exploring and dealing with in their daily lives. Fashion is important in creating a wordless communication which peopled can easily understand. According to Perthuis (2015), fashion is a vital feature in expressing the personality of a consumer. It becomes easier to judge the consumer considering his or her taste to a given line of fashion. Perthuis further notes that fashion is important in expressing social uniqueness of an individual. Many consumers particularly the teenagers are in constant search of fashion uniqueness and thus it is easier for one to express an element of uniqueness in everyday fashion along with keeping pace with the trends in the market.
Additionally, fashion plays a vital role of consumer image enhancement. It is fundamentally important to enhance one's image as it permits consumers to project a given image to the public. It is a form of inspiration and a tool for communicating to the public. Consumers are able to enhance their beauty through putting new trends of fashion clothes. Fashion is particularly important in expressing the culture of certain consumers. Every culture is identified with certain fashion. For examples, women from a Bangladesh wear “sari” as a form of identification. The sari fashion dressing has also had an influence to the Mexicans and Africans where people seek to incorporate the Indian culture into their fashion (Godart, 2014). Moreover, fashion increases confident as it is required in making the consumer feel at his or her best. When a consumer wears fashionable clothes that fit and appeal to the body, it works towards boosting the confidence of the consumer. Fashion has become an important aspect in identifying the person’s position in the society. Notably, an individual who has a taste of putting on fashionable clothes increases his role in the society. Indeed, fashion has increasingly become part of life and no one can remain to be untouched without an element of fashion. Undisputedly, individuals need to have an idea of a kind of fashion in order to identify their existence in the current society.

Social Cognition and Consumer Behavior

Social cognition of consumer behavior directs at having an understanding of the behavioral factors of consumers’ cognitive processes. The information processing theory and cognitive psychology in the fashion industry manifest itself as critical aspects in persuading the society’ attitudes. The stimulus effect of information in social cognition occurs through encoding, storage, retrieval, and inference-making. Thus, the fashion trends have to evoke positive judgments, perceptions, and memories of social stimuli in an effort of promoting the interpersonal and behavioral cognitive processes. Social cognition underlines the formation of crucial judgments and can be majorly developed through product advertisement. Wood & Hayes (2012), report that “Consumer buying process involves needs recognition, information search, alternative evaluation, purchase decision and post purchase evaluation which are influenced by social psychology”. The processes of consumer stereotypes on a product are based on the social cognition theory which is symbolic in driving the tastes and preferences. Besides, social cognition highlights a crucial aspect of developing consumer choice attitudes which later translate into consumer behavior.

Influencing Consumer Behavior through Fashion Apparel

The buying behavior related to fashion apparel is based tastes and preferences of consumers on products which vary from one individual to the other. Social psychology is fundamental in the development of desired fashion apparel. The aspects of brand, color, material and fashion are central in an effort to influence the consumers and the designers have to ensure that product features, individuality, design, and comfort are embedded in fashion apparels. It, therefore, becomes obligatory for the fashionista to know and understand the behavior of consumers in a clear manner and feature creativity and innovativeness. These aspects will have a leading function in steering the buying patterns. Howard (2014), documents that purchasing behavior of the older and younger people vary in a number of ways and the younger generation have high affinity towards new makeups and the cloth shopping a behavior impacted through social experience. Howard further cites that “teenage girls are notorious fickle shoppers who try to realize instant gratification in what they purchase” (Howard, 2014). Furthermore, shifts in cultural values, consumer purchasing intentions, and preferences in fashion apparels have formed the most critical factors which marketing managers consider in their strategic aspirations. Studies have recommended that the fashion industry should aim at bridging the intercultural variations and promote stimulation of fashion apparels across the consumer segments (Wood & Hayes, 2012).

Customer-Centric Strategy for Consumer Loyalty

The customer-centric strategy works in the development of self-esteem which culminates into the social influence of consumers’ interests, therefore, enhancing the repurchasing intentions and building of customer loyalty in the fashion. A friendly customer care that addresses the needs of the consumers makes them feel valued and seek the same services or product in the future. Customer centric strategy will foster appealing brands and according to Bagozzi et al., the factors that work towards customer retention also promote consumer behavior of repurchasing intention (Bagozzi et al., 2010). Promotion of customer-centric approaches in a business is a strategy that will not only engage the customers but also help the fashion business in having a full understanding of what the customers require and provide a personalized experiences. Fashion, brand loyalty, customer satisfaction, and past behavior together with offering quality services influences customer loyalty that drives the repurchasing intentions.
Word-of –Mouth is also a customer-centric strategy that has a greater influence on the social psychology of consumer behavior. This incorporates the face-to-face communication strategies that the fashion marketing manager seeks to influence his or her clients. Word of mouth is a persuasive factor in perceptions and attitudes. Radar states that “Consumer duplicate each other following a social or vicarious learning paradigm which is most important in fashion appeals” (Radar, 2011). Additionally, Verplanken & Sato point out that the word-of-mouth permits the consumers and the marketers to share opinions and information influencing product choices and enables one to point out any loopholes in the product (Verplanken & Sato, 2011). Face-to-face communication affects the social cognition and communication in fashion and thus impacting on the customers’ emotional state, attractiveness and personality traits. In light of the current developments in the fashion industry, social psychology plays a vibrant role in driving sales which has also been endorsed through the advent of technology empowering new platforms of electric word-of-mouth (eWOM) communication. The psychology of directing the consumers through the internet also influences their behavior and fashion industry has treated the internet to be a viral marketing strategy that seeks to persuade and encourage the purchase of products and minimizes personal decision conflicts. Undoubtedly word of mouth has proven to be a weapon of social psychology influence particularly to clients who heavily rely on the advice of sellers for purchasing decisions.

Social Interaction and Behavior of Impulse Buying

Social interactions and attitudes have a greater influence on impulse buying of consumers which is a social psychological behavior that relates to emotional buying, unplanned and cognitive deliberations with studies indicating that women are more victims compared to men (Verplanken & Sato, 2011). Social interactions help in spreading of information and ideas which in turn model the consumer to effects of impulse buying. Social interactions are linked to consumer cognitive control and emotional activation of excitement feelings triggers irresistible urges to buy a product and in fashion, individuals will always seek for opinions and perceptions that increase their self-identification. Besides, Verplanken and Sato note that age is an important factor in shaping the choices and preferences of fashion appeals and impulse buying. In their empirical study which focused on 55 female consumers, they documented that the younger consumers are attracted to marketers who have a touched in impacting on their unplanned buying while the old individuals do not pay attention to marketers. They state that “ Young people have more impulse intention and they prefer to get new experience and urge to buy things spontaneously, whereas older consumers may have better ability to control their feelings” (Verplanken & Sato, 2011). The younger generations are more willingness to explore new varieties and will engage in unplanned buying behavior and thus a firm should take advantage of this fact to maximize sales. The social psychology of the marketers has to aim at alleviating the mood and values of consumers as these factors are a driving wheel behind the impulse buying behavior.

Adoption of Fashion by Consumers

In the fashion industry, the adoption of fashion by the consumers becomes a vital aspect and it majorly defines the consumer behavior. Several theories have tried to explain the behavior of fashion adoption by the consumers. For example, the upward theory postulates that fashion adoption among the consumers’ starts among the young low-income groups and move up to the higher income consumers for adoption process in the society (Young, 2013). The horizontal theory does assert that fashion adoption will move between both types of consumers while the downwards fashion adoption theory argues that fashion will trickle down having a downward flow from the higher income individuals to the low-income people. All these theories offer an explanation to the consumer behavior in the fashion industry concerning the adoption of fashion in a society. Culture, historical influence, fashion marketing and fashion trends are some of the factors that influenced fashion adoption.

The Role of Celebrities and Media in Fashion Adoption

Undoubtedly, celebrities play an important role in influencing consumers in the fashion industry. International celebrity icons such ass musicians and politicians including Jessica Parker, Beyoncé, and Madonna seem to be key influencers to the behavior of fashion adoption among the consumers particularly the teenagers (Roytman, 2014). These celebrities act as role models in the fashion industry impacting on the psychology of the consumers and thus influence their purchasing behavior in fashion. These celebrities prove to provide a guidance to individuals who have a personal attachment to them. Consumers who want to be identified with a given celebrity will incline onto the fashion dressing behavior is done by the given celebrity. Celebrities are also vital in creating brand awareness to the consumers and thus influencing the brand cognition, therefore, impacting the fashion industry together with the behavior of the consumers (Roytman, 2014). Fashion image is correlated to the consumer perception concerning a favorable fashion and uniqueness and celebrities provide an assistance to the consumers in enhancing their fashion and thus impacting on the fashion industry.
Media has ever since been a key aspect of fashion adoption. The producers of the fashion trends heavy rely on the media for influencing the consumer behavior. Therefore, the adoption of fashion influenced by the media. Mass media including newspapers, radios, and televisions play a crucial role particularly in the current fashion life which has seen changes in the fashion industry. Particularly, the media hosts celebrities and news anchors or even actors who keep wearing trendy fashion. Certainly, the media has become an important feature in communicating the given fashion trends available in the market. Therefore, the media has greatly contributed in shaping the consumer thinking and thus affected the consumer behavior. Peers also tend to have an influence on fashion attitude, actions and thinking of a person in a given fashion. Peers are key in persuading and encouraging a consumer to purchase certain fashion trends and directly influencing the consumer decision and behavior (Young, 2013). Peer influence is particularly significant among the youths hence plays a key feature in fashion adoption.

Ways of Dealing with Changing Consumer Behavior in the Fashion Industry

Companies based in fashion have to identify ways of dealing with the constant changes in the consumer behavior. Consumer tastes and presences constantly change and significantly impacts on the fashion industry. Identifying ways to deal with the aspect will drive fashion growth in the markets via the products that are currently in the market existence. Besides, the move will be beneficial for market penetration and thus increase the market share of a fashion company along with attracting consumers and stimulating fashion trial among the potential consumers. Launching of new products, fashion penetration, and fashion development are thus some of the ways in which a fashion company can cope with the changes in the consumer behavior. Additionally, diversification of the product is particularly significant in addressing the consumer choice in the fashion market. A firm should also seek the development of new markets and have a proper marketing mix including appropriate price and location (Solomon, 2001). Product development and augmentation will also keep the company competitive in the fashion industry as it will work towards enhancing the value of customers in the new and existing fashion. A fashion company should also seek in having a product extension which will culminate into broader lines of fashion offered to the market and thus add to the brand attributes of color, sizes, and trends. A firm also has to carefully consider its competitors in the fashion industry and come up with strategies on how to outsmart its competitors through addressing the needs of the consumers.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Consumer Behavior

CRM presents to be a fundamental strategy that assists the fashion based firms to improve their profitability levels and impact on the consumer behavior. CRM aims at attracting more customers and drives up the revenues made by a firm. In order for a fashion company to accomplish its objectives, it has to gather data through CRM which would aid in coming up with the appropriate market analysis. The market has to be analyzed on dimensions of market growth, trends, market profitability and the market size along with the market distribution channels. The CRM also aims at affecting the consumer decisions and ensure that there is a perfect strategy for staying on the core customer values enhancing the image of the fashion industry. The CRM strategy has to be directed at fashion innovation and it is a key strategy in the integration of the fashion trends to the consumers and guide the repurchasing decisions. A better CRM will always work in realizing more sales, revenues and work for customer retention. Furthermore, it has to strive at creating grounds for consumer motivation. According to Godart (2014), “consumer motivation is an internal state that derives person to choose and buy products or services which fulfill conscious and unconscious desire or needs”. Fulfilling of the consumer needs proves to drive consumer motivation and thus act as an important feature in making the consumer repurchase the product.

Characteristics to Manifest in Fashion Clothes

Clothing in the fashion industry is one of the ways for identifying the society and social class of an individual. Therefore, selection of the right attributes to include in clothing is critical in the creation of an overall style that will appeal to a given consumer segment. In the fashion industry, fashion shows and the fashion magazines have guided fashion manufacturers in determining what to choose and incorporate in fashion. Fashion is manifested through changes that occur in the fashion industry. In the fashion market, fashion constantly changes by consumers purchasing motivational factors along with the decisional processes. Bagozzi indicates that “The culture of a fashion is indissolubly related to the place or social sense to a given society and consumer behavior” (Bagozzi, 2010). The market is a fundamental aspect of the exploration of challenge that is posed by the market behavior relating to creativity.
The manifestation of the fashion industry is done through various means. Notably, external sociological factors attribute play a strategic role in influencing the customer’s friends, family, social class, and even neighbors. The cultural attributes are deemed vital in any fashion industry and the target market has to be well understood. Besides, the demographic features do not only influence on the type of clothing that people will consume but also act as a mirror of viewing the needs of the society. Demography involves age, gender, and consumer occupation. Undoubtedly, age has always remained to be a vital focus in the fashion industry. It helps in understanding which attributes should be included in the clothes. The “teenage fashion” has been the focus of many fashion attributes as young people tend to opt for sophisticated and fashionable clothing (Godart, 2014). Gender influences the individual’s choice in clothing which relates to femininity or masculinity. Occupation particularly denotes the social class of an individual and thus influence the buying decisions.

Conclusion

Social psychology involving consumer behavior points out to be an essential aspect of the marketing of new trends in fashion. Values, opinions, and attitudes towards a certain brand motivate the individual decisional choices and this could be enhanced through the sellers taking an interest in social values which influence a given group. Attitudes and perceptions on social grounds affect fashion apparels and repurchasing intention in a segment of consumers inducing a socially complex and a sudden consumer buying patterns. Designers and retailers of fashion have to apply attractive strategies that will enable the consumer extract value in the commodity. Social psychology influence of consumer behavior should seek at stimulating attitudes of customers and manufacture fashion-oriented brands that feature the attributes that are vital to consumer satisfaction. The brand appeal, appearance, and quality along with personal services in a fashion provides a pleasant shopping environment and thus shapes the consumer behavior.

References

Bagozzi, R., Gürhan-Canli, Z., & Priester, J. (2010). The social psychology of consumer behaviour (1st ed.). Buckingham: Open University Press.
Godart, F. (2014). The power structure of the fashion industry: Fashion capitals, globalization and creativity. International Journal Of Fashion Studies, 1(1), 39-55. http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/infs.1.1.39_1
Howard, D. (2014). Social influence and consumer behavior (1st ed.). New York, NY: Psychology Press.
Perthuis, K. de (2015). People in Fashionable Clothes: Street Style Blogs and the Ontology of the Fashion Photograph. Fashion Theory, 20(5), 523-543. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1362704x.2015.1115656
Radar, E. (2011). The Manifestations of Fashion as a Phenomenon of Social Psychology. Diogenes, 17(68), 80-97. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/039219216901706804
Roytman Natalie. (2014). How Celebrities Inspire Fashion Of The Youth. Uloop. Retrieved on April 12, 2017 from http://uiowa.uloop.com/news/view.php/112012/How-Celebrities-Inspire-Fashion-Of-The-Youth-
Solomon, M. (2001). The Psychology of fashion (1st ed.). Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books.
Verplanken, B. & Sato, A. (2011). The Psychology of Impulse Buying: An Integrative Self-Regulation Approach. Journal Of Consumer Policy, 34(2), 197-210. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10603-011-9158-5
Wood, W. & Hayes, T. (2012). Social Influence on consumer decisions: Motives, modes, and consequences. Journal Of Consumer Psychology, 22(3), 324-328. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcps.2012.05.003
Young Lee, J., Halter, H., Johnson, K., & Ju, H. (2013). Investigating fashion disposition with young consumers. Young Consumers, 14(1), 67-78. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/17473611311305494

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