Brands are psychologically meaningful to consumers as they enable them to create individual identity. Numerous researches have been conducted on consumer purchase habit but most of the findings have been inconclusive. The current study involved 50 international students and sought to examine their brand purchasing habits. Research findings revealed that the vast majority of students shopped for branded clothes 1-4 times a year, while price and quality emerged as the most important aspect overseas that the international students looked out for before purchasing branded products. On the other hand, the vast majority of overseas students considered themselves as the main influence of their purchase decision, although friends and family also had an influence. These findings correspond to other related studies.
Research Report on Brands Purchasing Habits
Consumers are treated to thousands of brand images daily. Brands are considered important in creating individual identity (O`Cass & Frost, 2002). The possibility of individuals being judged because of their appearance has increased lately, especially among young people. Social networking, dating applications, and online profiles show people’s photos, and they pass a visual message to the public. Whereas the facial features have been well documented, other factors, such as clothes, have also played an important part in impression formation (Howlett et al., 2013). According to Fitzsimons, Chartrand, and Fitzsimons (2008), “brands have surely become psychologically more meaningful than the existing empirical work would suggest.” (p. 21). However, a number of brand companies attempt to increase their sales in many ways. Global luxury brand marketers have developed strategies to attract young consumers with average income who have never been considered a viable market in the conventional sense (Park et.al, 2008). Advertising products on T.V and social media applications has become the fastest way to spread trends, especially among young people (Hattaja et al., 2010). A study by Louis 2002 cited by Park et.al. (2008) discovered that youth generation consumers in Korea have become consumer trendsetters as their spending capability increases and their western cultural reference points have dramatically expanded. Considering that brands are ever-present in our day-to-day lives, there is a need to examine how brand exposure impact consumer behavior. Accordingly, this research endeavors to examine brand-purchasing habits of college students studying abroad.
A lot of research has been carried out on the brand purchasing habits. For example, the study by Park et al. (2008), which included the frequency of shopping for branded clothing in a year, showed that the vast majority of both gender consumers have never purchased branded clothes. A survey conducted by Alamgir et al. (2010) indicated that the largest number of the sample agreed that the brand name of the product was the most important feature when making purchase decision. The purchase decision of buyers was influenced by varied factors, namely past experiences. Research concerning the main influence when making purchase decision concluded that most individuals considered themselves as the primary decision- makers. However, these studies were not conclusive. In Park et al. (2008), the research was specific about Korean people and their shopping frequency. Furthermore, Alamgir`s (2010) research did not consider the differences in terms of gender.
On 19 February 2016, a survey on brand purchasing habits of overseas students was carried out among 50 international students. The sample covered 25 female and 25 male students studying academic English at Navitas in Sydney. The vast majority of the sample was Chinese, and other subjects were from South Korea, Saudi Arabia Vietnam, Nepal, Taiwan, Spain, and Japan. They were aged between 18 and 35. The instrument used was a questionnaire, which was given to respondents to complete. The questionnaire was administered informally and it involved 13 questions. The questions were close ended except one open-ended question relating to nationality. The questionnaire was divided into 3 sections. The first part focused on demographic information. The second and third sections were about attitude and behavior in brand shopping. The results were collected and represented in graphs, and compared in terms of gender.
Graph 1 showed the frequency of branded clothing shopping in a year by overseas students. The results indicated that the vast majority of students shopped for branded clothes 1-4 times a year. Slightly, more male students (41%) did this more than females (35%). The frequency of the other part of international students was from 5-8 times. Fractionally, more females (30%) than males (34%) purchased branded clothes, whereas two times as many females as males bought this product more than 12 times.
The bar graph showed the most important aspect overseas students look for before purchasing branded products. As can be seen from the chart, the majority of overseas students looked for both price and quality. However, considerably, more females (48%) than males (41%) considered this the most important aspect. The second most significant aspect was the design of the product, around 41% of males and 35% of females believed it was the most important feature. The number of females who agreed that price was the most important factor (13%) was high; double that of males (6%).
Graph 3 showed the primary influence when buying branded products. It was clear that the vast majority of overseas students considered themselves as the main influence. Concerning the number of influence when making purchase decision, the male students believed that their own decision was the influence, significantly higher than females (61%). Male students (16%) who agreed that their friends had an effect on their purchasing were fewer than females (21%). Slightly, the family influenced more females (18%) than males (12%).
The research findings revealed that most respondents shopped for branded clothes 1-4 times a year, with the number of male students doing so being higher than that of females, at 41% and 35%, respectively. These results seem to suggest that male students seek new fashion trends and styles more than women, and this is in contrast with the findings by Adjei et al (2006) who contend that women attach a lot of importance to distinctive brands and products that they can rely on to define their personality. Adjei et al. (2006) also confirmed that on account of women’s extensive awareness about clothing and fashion, they are more sensitive to such needs and are hence more inclined to purchase these in comparison to men. Similar findings were also obtained from a survey conducted by Handelns Utredningsinstitut (HUI) in 2006 in Gothenburg involving 1100 women of between 16 and 64 years of age. The study questions entail question on the respondents’ clothing consumption. The study stressed on the significance of quality and uniqueness for women in the purchase of clothes. The study findings further emphasized on the fact that clothing is a key aspect in the development of the female identity, more than that of a man (as reported by Holmberg & Öhnfeld 2009). Accordingly, women are more likely to spend shop more for clothing items, in comparison to men.
Quality and price were the two main considerations for overseas students while purchasing branded clothes, with more females than males regarding this as the most significant aspect at 48% and 41% respectively. However, a study by Rahman (2011) revealed that the most frequently cited and important attribute connected with the purchase of branded clothes, especially jeans, was fit. Moreover, consumers are always ready and willing to pay more for a specific brand on condition that it is of best fit, as this helps to project their identity, appearance, and image. Ismail, Masood, and Tawab (2012) conducted a study to examine factors that determine consumer preference for international brands in favor of local brands. The study had young people of between 16 and 24 years as its respondents. The study findings indicated that quality and price of the products are the two most important factors that determine the final consumer decision. Because consumers often associate the quality of a given product with its price, a branded product that is priced too low is often perceived as being of lower quality. In the same way, should a brand be priced too high, not many people may be in a position to buy it. Moreover, such a high price will often be perceived as an indication that the product in question is also of a higher quality.
From the study findings, females were twice as likely as men to view price as the most important factor of their purchase decision of a design product. Ipsos Media Atlas conducted a survey between September 2011 and June 2012 in which some 8,000 Filipinos were interviewed on their level of brand consciousness. The respondents were from diverse age groups, social classes, and gender in urban Philippines. The study findings revealed that compared to men, women tend to be more price-conscious. From this survey, 79 percent of the female respondents indicated that price was the most significant factor while deciding to make a purchase decision, in comparison with 76 percent of their male counterparts (Business World, 2012). The study findings indicated that the foreign students considered themselves as the major influence on the purchase decision of branded products, while friends and family also had an influence on their purchase decisions (Hawkins & Mothersbaugh, 2012).
Many factors, characteristics, and specificalities influence individual purchase decision-making process. In this case, a purchase decision is a culmination of these aspects. Consequently, while making a purchase decision, a consumer is often led by is/her culture, membership group, social class, personality, family, and psychological factors (Hoyer, McInnis & Pieters, 2012).
Moreover, societal and social environment and cultural trends will also inform such a decision.
This study was limited to a number of aspects. To begin with, the research was based on secondary data. Therefore, this meant that the discussion could only be limited to the findings of the study. Secondly, there was limited time to complete the research and as such, the researcher could not exhaust all the study parameters they had intended to.
The study findings point at differences in the brand purchasing habits of foreign students in terms of gender, and product specificities, such as price, design, and quality. In the future, it would be fitting to explore if such product preferences differ when purchasing local brands and/or international brands.
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