Although traditionally, the concept of "branding" has almost exclusively been used in the context of consumer goods, it has gradually found its way into the field of retailing (Ailawadi and Keller, 2004). In the way that consumers buy (luxury) brands to express or enhance their self-image, so can they be expected to patronize stores with a personality that matches their self-concept (Sirgy et al., 2000). This is particularly the case in the fashion industry, with fast fashion retailers trading up and thus eroding fashion luxury brands' added value. Although Martineau (1958: 47) already introduced the concept of store personality (SP) over five decades ago, describing it as "the way in which the store is defined in the shoppers's mind, partly by its functional qualities and partly by an aura of psychological attributes," the scarce output of scholarly interest in the latter part of this concept has often remained too general to be of use to retail managers (Garton, 1995).
One of the reasons is that past research largely neglected the phenomenon of "concept-scale interaction" (cf., e.g., Osgood et al. 1957 and Caprara et al., 2001), which implies that both the degree of relevance of an adjective (e.g., a SP trait) and its meaning vary according to the concept to which it refers (e.g., a fashion- versus a grocery store). In order to account for this phenomenon, this paper first presents a SP scale development, tailor-made for fashion retailing. Fifty-one interviews (44 women; age: 25-40), applying repertory grid analysis, result in a preliminary list of 268 humanlike adjectives that are attributable to fashion stores. Relatively young female participants dominate the sample as they are characterized by their interest in fashion (Evans, 1993) and their likelihood to connect with fashion retailers through their corporate identity (Cheng et al., 2008). A subsequent consumer survey (n = 481 women; age: 25-40) leads to the identification of five underlying fashion store personality (FSP) dimensions: "chaos", "innovativeness", "sophistication", "agreeableness", and "conspicuousness". A series of factor analyses shows the 22-item scale to have a stable structure and good psychometric properties.
Besides operationalising the FSP construct, the second objective of this study is to explore the applicability of the self-congruity theory in the context of fashion retailing. Contrary to the extensive corroborations of this theory across many product categories, it is still in its infancy in retailing research (Sirgy et al., 2000). The present study visualizes the association between the consumers' self-concept and the FSP of their most patronized fashion store in a multidimensional scaling analysis. The results indicate that agreeable consumers prefer similar fashion stores, open and extraverted consumers favor innovative stores, and conscientious shoppers like sophisticated stores.
Finally, the relative importance of the five FSP dimensions, in explaining fashion store choice decisions, is assessed in a stepwise multiple discriminant analysis, indicating that (1) FSP perceptions are worthwhile to take into consideration when explaining fashion store choice and that (2) in particular, chaos and sophistication are the two FSP dimensions which consumers mind most when choosing a fashion store to patronize.
References available upon request.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobal Marketing Conference
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sep 2010
EventFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 21 Sep 200925 Sep 2009


ConferenceFinds and Results from the Swedish Cyprus Expedition: A Gender Perspective at the Medelhavsmuseet

    Research areas

  • Fashion retailing, store personality scale, self-congruity, repertory grid analysis, multidimensional scaling, discriminant analysis

ID: 1958906