Capturing Loyalty across Garment Ranges: The Case of Supermarket Children's Clothing in the UK
15th International EIRASS Conference on recent advances in Retailing and Services Science, EIRASS, Zagreb, July 14-17, 2008
24 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2009
Date Written: July 14, 2007
In recent years, the UK clothing and fashion industry has undergone some major changes. While the demise of traditional high street brands such as C&A have been widely heralded in the media, a new phenomenon has dramatically changed the children's garment landscape with the emergence of supermarkets as viable alternative providers. In a world where fashion is the prerogative of a substantial majority of the population, image, social status, personality, identity and self expression are so crucial and modelled around key top brands, the main UK supermarket chains seem - rather against the odds - to have created a new, socially-acceptable type of fashion consumption. Have supermarkets own label brands really moved from 'me too' to suitable everyday prestige alternatives? In addition, while parents control purchases for the smallest children, are they convinced to stay loyal across the age ranges - without somehow stigmatizing themselves or their children? Our exploratory research encompasses supermarket stores that are located on the outskirts of town - not accessible by walking from city centres - as a reflection of current spatial change in shopping patterns in the UK. Fifty nine interviews conducted in two ASDA and two TESCO stores in Devon and in Glasgow were analyzed. Our theoretical perspective draws on a body of research covering areas such as intra-household economy and relationships, children and childhood imagery, the consumer decision making process, and retailing. We surmise that, due to the nature of the products/services, clothing shopping is, in effect, bringing new complexities for consumers which have yet to be addressed by most retailers' marketing strategies. While ease of access (through linked grocery shopping) price and quality are perceived as the main decision factors, we reveal that style and design, commendation by word of mouth, refund policies and assortment/variety also linked to multiplicity of usage are greatly influencing parental choice. We highlight the increasing importance of browsing as a modern improvisation choice practice (planned impulse buying). We then provide a re-definition of 'taste and style' and another view of what it could be to be a good parent. Supermarket clothing ranges are perceived as a way to help in grounding, forming and assessing future clothing consumptions.
Keywords: Supermarket clothing, parental decision making
JEL Classification: M30
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