The Role of Consumer Decision Making and Choice in Augmenting C-To-C Buying Behaviour

Introduction

The purpose of this chapter is to provide a literature review on Consumer buying decision-making process and the consumer behaviour. The chapter forms the foundation of my dissertation. The chapter illustrates the divergent views and opinions that have been advanced by different scholars on the subject. The objective of this literature review is to illustrate how individuals and entrepreneurs can leverage on the consumer decision making and choice in augmenting C-to C buying behaviour. The review further evaluates how mobile applications can be adopted in enhancing the consumer-to-consumer buying process with regard to fashion products. Psychological approaches are utilised in reviewing the literature. Four main questions are evaluated in this dissertation as illustrated below.

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  1. What is the role of consumer buying decision making in enhancing the consumer-to-consumer buying behaviour?
  2. What factors influence the consumers in their buying process?
  3. How can individuals and organisations assist consumers in their buying decision making process.
  4. In what ways can technology such as mobile application be used in enhancing the consumer-to-consumer buying process with regard to fashion clothes amongst women aged 20-40 years in Germany?

According to Erasmus, Boshoff, and Rousseau (2001), consumers have become some of the most interesting areas amongst researchers and business practitioners in studying consumer science. Erasmus, Boshoff, and Rousseau (2001) define consumer science to include the practice of trying to understand the consumers’ decision-making and their behaviour. Consumers purchase diverse products and services in pursuit for socio-psychological, physical, psychological, and financial satisfaction.

Erasmus, Boshoff, and Rousseau (2001) further assert that it is essential for businesses to understand the consumers’ decision-making process in order to formulate and implement optimal operational strategies. However, Ariely (2009) warns that understanding the consumers’ decision-making process and behaviour is complicated because of diverse internal and external changes. Increased investment in new product and continuous product development has presented consumers with a challenge in selecting the product to consume.

Consumer behaviour models

The utility, prospect and satisficing model

According to Kaa (2010), early economists such as “John von Neumann, Nicholas Bernoulli, and Oskar Morgenstern were concerned with understanding the consumer decision making” (201), and this aspect led to the development of different models. The three main theories include the utility theory, the prospect theory, and the satisficing theory. The utility theory postulates that the “consumers’ decisions are based on the expected level of satisfaction” (Kaa, 2010, p.204).

The utility theory is composed of three main elements, which include the Random Utility Maximisation and the Expected Utility Theory. All the above theories assert that the consumers strive to achieve the highest level of satisfaction in their consumption processes. However, the model assumes that consumers are rational and probabilistic with regard to their expected outcome. However, consumers are not normally rational, consistent, or conversant with what influences them to make a purchase decision. The consumers estimate on what to purchase based on the events.

According to Richarme (2005), the utility model is characterised by some shortcomings hence limiting its effectiveness in explaining the consumer decision making. This aspect led to the development of the satisficing model. The satisficing model postulates that consumers do not explore all the available options prior to making a decision; however, their decision is subject to the products and services that are within their settings (Richarme, 2005). This aspect is contrary to the utility model, which postulates that consumers evaluate all the available options and select the product or service with the highest utility score.

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The third model includes the prospect model which asserts that consumers are influenced by the concepts of endowment and value in their decision making process. Value refers to the gains or losses that the consumer experiences by consuming a particular product. On the other hand, endowment occurs if a consumer perceives that owning a particular product would make the consumer better off compared to another consumer (Richarme, 2005).

The grand consumer decision-making model

The ‘grand models’ include three main models, which include the Nicosia’s model of 1966, Howard and Sheth model of 1969 and the Engel-Kollat-Blackwell model of 1968. Nicosia’s model postulates that the consumer decision is comprised of four main actions, which include attitude formation, searching for information, purchasing, and post-consumption feedback. However, these purchase decision process under the Nicosia model is influenced by the consumers’’ attitude, motivation and experience. The figure below illustrates the Nicosia’s consumer decision-making model.

The grand consumer decision-making model

Howard and Sheth model

This model illustrates the impact of influential factors such as the social, marketing, and psychological factors on consumer decision making. According to this model, consumers are influenced by different inputs, which include the various environmental stimuli. The inputs may relate to the products symbolic image or its physical characteristics. Consumers internalise different environmental influences in their consumption process, which affecting their purchase decision (Karimi, 2013). The model further postulates that the decision-making process is affected by perceptual and learning constructs.

According to Karimi (2013), “the perceptual constructs affect the internalisation by filtering and controlling the environmental stimuli that the consumer is exposed to while the learning constructs have an impact on the information search and post purchase behaviour such as repurchase ” (p. 91). The chart below illustrates a simplified description of the Howard and Sheth model.

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Howard and Sheth model

Engel-Kollat-Blackwell’s model

This model is based on the consumers’ decision-making process, which is comprised of a number of sequential stages, that is, problem recognition, searching for information, evaluating alternatives, purchasing and post-purchase evaluation. Furthermore, the model is cognisant of the cultural, situational, social, and individual factors that influence the consumers’ decision-making process (Karimi, 2013). The figure below illustrates the Engel-Kollat-Blackwell’s model.

Engel-Kollat-Blackwell’s model

According to Karimi (2013), the grand model mainly focuses on the various stages involved in the consumer decision-making process. Despite their effectiveness in providing broad analysis of the consumer behaviour, they cannot be tested empirically. Erasmus, Boshoff, and Rousseau (2001) assert that the models have not provided a comprehensive theoretical background on consumer behaviour. The models postulate that consumers are rational in their decision making process.

However, recent studies show that consumers are not rational but are influenced by various forces. Karimi (2013) opines, “Consumers are continuously involved in unconscious behaviour” (p.92). Moreover, the consumers do not necessarily follow a sequential process in their decision making process. Thus, they may take minimal time in making a purchase decision (Erasmus, Boshoff, & Rousseau 2001).

Classical purchase behaviour model

This model is a simplified version of the ‘grand model’ in that it eliminates the interrelation of various elements in decision-making process. The model postulates that the consumer decision-making process is comprised of five main stages, which include:

  • Problem recognition.
  • Information search.
  • Evaluation of alternatives.
  • Purchase decision.
  • Post-purchase behaviour.

Classical purchase behaviour model

The classical purchase behaviour model is very famous and is considered as the standard consumer purchasing behaviour model. Unlike traditional purchase processes, the consumer decision may be affected by other factors such as the level of trust between the consumer and the seller. Therefore, trust may alter the consumers’ behaviour and choice, which is mainly evident under electronic commerce (Karimi, 2013).

Similar to the ‘grand’ model, the classical model is not free from limitations. The main problem with this model is its sequential structure that purports that consumers follow a systematic process in making a purchase decision, which might not be the case.

The McKinsey’s dynamic model

This prototype is a relatively new consumer decision-making model. The model asserts that the consumers’ decision-making process and consumer behaviour are influenced y current market issues. The traditional models assert that the consumers’ decision-making process is an elimination process whereby consumers select from a wide range of brands. Currently, consumers have become exposed to a wide range of information due to the high rate of development with regard to information communication technology. Karimi (2013) opines that the “dramatic increase in the number of shops as well as the increased sophistication of consumers has changed the decision-making process” (p.94).

The McKinsey’s dynamic model is comprised of four main phases, which include “initial consideration, active evaluation, researching on potential purchases, and closure and according to this model, the consumer purchase decision starts with a trigger, which motivates the consumer to commence the purchase journey” (Karimi, 2013, p.99). The model is also cognisant of the fact that consumers are exposed to a wide range of information. The next step after the need s triggered entails evaluating the information available.

Consumer decision-making strategies

The above models led to the development of a number of consumer decision-making strategies that marketers can adopt. Richarme (2005) asserts that the decision-making strategy varies depending on the nature of the product. Understanding the decision-making strategies can provide marketers with insight on how the consumers select the product to purchase. These strategies include the compensatory strategies, partially compensatory strategies and non-compensatory strategies.

Richarme (2005) argues that in compensatory strategies, “consumers allow a higher value of one attribute” (p.2). On the other hand, Richarme (2005) asserts that each “attribute of a specific product is evaluated without respect to the other attribute even though a product may have a very high value one attribute, if it fails another attribute, it is eliminated from consideration” (p.2). In partially compensatory strategies, the various decision-making strategies are compared with each other. Moreover, competing products are evaluated and the product with the highest value or attributes is selected.

Consumer behaviour analysis

According to Blythe (2013), the consumer is the fundamental element in marketing. Consequently, it is crucial for organisations to develop a comprehensive understanding of the consumers purchasing process. Numerous studies on consumer behaviour have been conducted over the years. Some of the areas of investigation relate to why, where, and what the consumers purchase. The interest in consumer behaviour has arisen from high rate at which companies and markets are growing. Consequently, the proximity between consumers and sellers has narrowed remarkably. Currently, consumers can purchase products without interacting with the sellers (Pride, 2009).

Various models have been developed in an effort to understand consumer behaviour. An example of such models includes the behavioural perspective model. The model was formulated in an effort to systemise the effects of the situational influences.

According to Wells and Foxall (2009), “the BPM models postulates that the consumer behaviour is influenced by both the economic and technical properties of goods on one hand and the social meaning of acquiring, owning and using them on the other” (p. 463). The model further explains that the consumers’ behaviour is a function of the consumers’ learning history, which is associated with a particular type of consumption, the consequences of behaviour, and the behaviour settings. The chart below illustrates the BPM model. Businesses strive to meet the consumers’ wants by providing products and services align with the consumers needs.

Consumer behaviour analysis

Kaa (2010) argues, “The human choice behaviour is conceived as a mental process that transforms perceptions of several optional courses of action into a choice and it is comprised of intuitive, automatic and impulsive behaviour as well as conscious-deliberate decision making” (p. 301).

The behaviour setting is comprised of the consumers’ physical and social environments, which exposes the consumer to stimuli to that signals a choice situation. Examples of behaviour settings include the supermarket and the doctors’ surgery waiting area. Thus, the behaviour setting can be either closed or open. The degree of influence on consumer behaviour in a closed setting varies from that of an open setting (Foxall, Goldsmith, & Brown, 1998).

Within the supermarket setting, the consumer decision to purchase is influenced by the point-of-sale advertise and the stores branding that emphasise the value that the consumer will derive by purchasing a particular product (Mozota, 2003). On the other hand, open settings does not have a strong influence on the consumers’ behaviour. Wells and Foxall (2009) define closed setting to include “where only a few reinforces are available and usually only one has special salience ; the experimenter or behaviour modifier has control over conditions of deprivation and access to reinforces” (p. 465).

The learning history constitutes another element of consumer situation. Hutt and Speh (2010) assert that the learning history includes the experiences that a consumer has had in a particular behaviour setting. The experience enables a consumer to predict the likely consequence of his or her behaviour in the event of such a similar occurrence, which indicates a discriminative stimulus that leads to the emergence of three main types of consequences.

First, the utilitarian reinforcement entails “the functional and direct benefits that a consumer derives from consuming a particular product” (Thomas & Wasmund, 2011, p.83). On the other hand, the informational reinforcement refers to the symbolic and indirect consequences associated with a particular behaviour. Examples of such consequences include the consumers’ social consequences such as the level of self-esteem and social status. These consequences emanate from various social arenas for example the comments by friends and relatives on how the consumer is performing with regard to particular product consumption.

The third effect that the consumer experiences from consuming a particular product relates to the financial and non-financial cost. For example, owning a car gives a consumer informational reinforcement emanating from improvement in his or her social status. A large number of consumers for owning a car may admire the consumer. In summary, the BPM perspective to consumer behaviour highlights that the consumer behaviour setting influences the consequences that a consumer experiences by consuming a particular product.

According to Foxall and Wells (2009) are of the opinion that the “probability of purchase and consumption depends on the relative weight of the reinforcing and aversive consequences that are signalled by the elements in the consumer behaviour settings” (p.6). Thus, a product’s price, brand, attributes, and service play a critical role in influencing the consumers’ purchase decision. Organisations consume a substantial amount of time in trying to influence the aversive and reinforcing characteristics of their products in an effort to make them attractive.

Consumer choice

Consumers have a wide assortment of products and services. Thus, they experience a challenge in choosing the product to purchase (Erasmus, Boshoff, & Rousseau, 2001). A number of studies have emphasised that consumers are rational in their decision making process. Consequently, they make conscious decisions on the type of product to purchase. However, recent studies show that unconscious mental processes influence the consumers’ purchase decision. Sirikaya and Woodside (2005) assert that most “human decisions are not perfectly rational because they are influenced by a multitude of factors which may constrain or motivate them to act irrationally” (p. 816).

There are different channels to explain how consumers make a purchase decision. According to Erasmus, Boshoff, and Rousseau (2001) opine that the consumers’ decision-making process varies over time. Therefore, it is imperative for marketers to understand what influences the consumers’ choices in order to determine the most effective channels strategies to adopt.

The choice of the product or service to consume varies between customers. However, the consumers’ choice is determined by the likelihood of achieving the desired level of satisfaction or utility. Previous analysis on the consumers’ lifestyle and personal characteristics show that the consumers’ purchase decision is not arrived in a straightforward manner as stipulated by the cognitive models. Modern consumer researchers posit that there are gaps with regard to the role of the environment on the consumers purchase decision (Foxall, Goldsmith, & Brown 1998).

The studies focused on the consumers’ attitudes, information handling, and personal traits to be amongst the major factors that influence consumer choice. However, the consumers’ personality variables and traits are ineffective predictors of consumer behaviour. The studies overlook on the view that the consumers’ choices and behaviours are determined by external environmental factors rather than the consumers’ psychological make-up.

Foxall, Goldsmith, and Brown (1998) postulate that the physical and social factors have a direct impact, facilitate and shape the consumers’ behaviour. Previous studies conducted by Foxall (2009) show that situational influences account for approximately 20% to 45% of the consumers’ behaviour. Below is an analysis of the factors that influence the consumers’ behaviour.

Level of involvement

Blythe (2013) defines involvement as “the consumers’ perceived relevance of the object based on the person’s inherent needs, values, and interests” (p. 139). Alternatively, involvement can be defined as the degree to which consumers are attached to a particular brand or product, or the level of loyalty. The level of involvement has a significant influence on the consumers’ ability to process information.

There are two main levels of involvement in the consumers’ purchasing process. They include the high and low levels of involvement. High involvement in the consumer buying process mainly occurs in highly priced products such as luxury products. Consequently, a high degree of risk is involved in purchasing such a product. In purchasing such products, consumers engage in a comprehensive decision making process in order to eliminate potential risk. Moreover, products characterised by a high degree of involvement are associated with high brand loyalty.

On the other hand, low involvement purchases mainly entail products that are of low value. Examples of such products include food, soap, and snacks. Consumers do not engage in a comprehensive decision making process in purchasing such products (Blythe, 2013). The level of involvement has a remarkable influence on the consumer behaviour. Therefore, it is imperative for marketers to understand the level of involvement amongst the target consumers.

The decision making process and the factors that influence consumer behaviour

The purchasing process varies depending on the service or product being purchased. The amount of time taken to make a decision on frequently purchased products is relatively short compared to a new product. Moreover, products that have a high monetary value also take a longer duration (Pride, Hughes, & Kapoor, 2008).

According to Pride and Ferrell (2013), the consumer decision-making process is comprised of five main steps. They include problem recognition phase, information search, analysing alternatives, purchase and conducting a post purchase evaluation.

Problem or need recognition is the first step in the consumers’ decision-making process. It involves identifying a need or a problem that should be satisfied. Franzen and Moriaty (2009) emphasise that the need can either be triggered by internal or external stimulus. Thus, it is essential for marketers to understand what could stimulate a particular need.

The second step entails searching for information to rely on in making the purchase decision. Different types of product or service information such as the available alternatives, product brand, and category are evaluated. There are different sources of information that a consumer can utilise. The common sources include personal, commercial, and experiential (Franzen & Moriaty, 2009). Personal sources of information include peers, colleagues, family, and friends. On the other hand, commercial sources relate to the various forms of marketing communication integrated by an organisation. On the other hand, experiential sources relate to an individuals’ or other peoples’ experience.

The next step entails evaluating the alternatives identified from the information search stage. During this stage, the consumer assesses the variation in the features and characteristics of the various products identified. Some of the features that the consumer takes into account in evaluating the alternatives include utilitarian or functional features. Other features evaluated include the hedonic or emotional features (Hitt, Ireland, & Hoskisson, 2009).

After conducting a “comprehensive evaluation of the diverse product alternative, the consumer selects the most appropriate product to purchase” (Jain, 2008, p.63). The product or service may be either a trial or a repeat purchase. In addition to product, the purchase decision also entails selecting the store to, the vendor, and the method of payment. Despite making a purchase decision, the consumer may not purchase the product identified because of influence by unexpected situational and from friends and relatives.

The final step in the decision-making process entails evaluating the product purchased. The evaluation involves analysing whether a product or service consumed has led to attainment of the desired level of satisfaction. The level of satisfaction attained determines whether the consumer will purchase the product or service later in the future.

Factors affecting consumer behaviour

According to Pride and Ferrell (2013), the consumer behaviour is influenced by diverse factors as illustrated by the figure below.

Factors affecting consumer behaviour

Cultural factors

Culture

Sarangapani (2009) posits that cultural factors are the greatest influences of the consumer’s decision. Therefore, it is imperative for marketers to develop a comprehensive understanding of the impact of culture on the consumers. Sarangapani (2009) further opines that culture forms the foundation of the consumers’ needs, wants, and behaviour. Culture is learnt as one grows up in a particular society.

By interacting with other members of the society, family members, and institutions, an individual learns the basic such as values upheld by the society. Some of Every society has distinct cultural characteristics that influence the consumer behaviour differently. Failure to align the marketing strategies with the prevailing culture may lead to ineffective marketing. Marketers should also evaluate the cultural trends in order to identify new business opportunities. For example, increment in degree of health conscious within a particular consumer group has led to the emergence of numerous businesses such as health and fitness clubs, sports apparels and footwear business amongst others.

Subculture

A particular culture is also comprised of smaller sub-cultures, which are made up of individuals characterised by shared value systems. The value systems arise from past consumer experiences and situations. The subcultures can be identified by the differences in the consumers’ religions, nationalities, geographic origin, and social groups. Some of the most notable subcultures include the mature consumers, African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics.

Social class

Sarangapani (2009) defines social class as “the society’s relatively permanent and ordered divisions whose members share similar values interest and behaviours” (p.15). A consumer’s social class is determined by diverse factors, which include the level of income, occupation, and wealth amongst others. Individuals within a particular social class depict different product preferences. However, consumers within a particular social class exhibit similar purchasing behaviour.

Social factors

Consumers are also influenced by “various social factors such as social roles and status reference groups and family” (Sarangapani, 2009, p. 57). The consumer’s small group, which are known as membership groups also, have an influence on the purchasing behaviour. On the other hand, the reference groups also influence the consumers’ purchasing decision by what other individuals are consuming. In a bid to understand the consumers’ purchase decision, it is imperative for marketers to evaluate the reference groups by identifying and influencing the opinion leaders of a particular reference group, which will in turn influence the consumers’ decision-making process. For example, the consumers will not be required to search for additional information in their purchasing process.

  • Family – One’s purchasing tendencies are highly subject to family members’ take on a certain good or service. Decision to purchase a product varies depending on the influence of the family members. For example, “the level of husband-wife involvement in the buying decision varies depending on the type of product” (Jain, 2008, p.105).
  • Roles and status – Consumers belong to diverse groups such as institutions, family, and clubs. A role refers to the activities undertaken by the consumer and with the role comes the status. In their consumption process, consumers purchase products that are aligned with their roles.

Personal factors

The consumers’ personal characteristics have a significant impact on the buyer decision. Some of the personal characteristics include “age and lifecycle stages, lifestyle, economic situation, occupation, personality, and self-concept” (Sarangapani, 2009, p.88).

  • Lifestyle – Sarangapani (2009) defines lifestyle as the individual’s pattern of living. An individual’s lifestyle can be determined based on three main dimensions, which include his or her activities, opinions [on social issues, products, and businesses] and interests [recreation, fashion].
  • Economic status – the consumers’ economic status has a direct impact on the choice of product. Understanding the consumers’ economic situation helps businesses in designing and repositioning their products and services.
  • Personality and self-concept – Consumers have a “distinct personality, which refers to their unique psychological characteristics” (Jain, 2008, p.97). Personality has a direct influence on the consumers’ purchase decision. On the other hand, self-concept refers to an individual’s self-image. An individual’s possession illustrates his or her self-concept. Thus, marketers have to understand the impact of self-concept on the consumers’ purchasing patterns.

Psychological factors

The consumers’ choice is subject to “major psychological factors, which include attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, motivation, and learning” (Sarangapani, 2009, p.91). Consumers have varying needs, which makes their motivation to vary. Various theories have been motivated to explain consumer motivation. Examples of such theories include the Abraham Maslow and the Sigmund Freud theories. Sigmund Freud theory posits that consumers are unconscious in their purchasing process. On the other hand, Abraham Maslow postulates that consumers are driven to purchase by various needs, which include social needs, esteem needs, physiological needs, and self-actualisation (Sarangapani, 2009).

Consumer choice is also determined by an individual’s perception regarding a particular situation. Perception is the process through which consumers select and interpret information. The consumers’ perceptual process is comprised of three main aspects, which include “selective distortion, selective attention, and selective retention” (Jain, 2008, p.46).

Learning is another significant element that determines the purchasing decisions. Sarangapani (2009) defines learning as the process through which consumers change their behaviour because of experience. Behaviour theorists are of the opinion behaviour is learnt. The beliefs and attitudes possessed by an individual have a remarkable influence on the consumer choice of products and services. Gaining knowledge on the consumers’ beliefs and attitude is paramount in influencing the consumers’ behaviour.

Role of technology in consumer buying, choice and decision-making

The past few decades have been characterised by a high rate of technology innovation. This trend has emanated from recognition of technology as one of the sources of competitive advantage in businesses. Ratner et al. (2008) are of the opinion that gaining and sustaining “competitive advantage is the defining question of strategy” (p.202). Organisations in different economic sectors are considering improving their market position by investing in various technologies. Thus, firms intend to adjust their business models into technologically intensive entities.

One of the areas of technological innovation that have had remarkable influence on consumers and businesses relates to Information Communication Technology (ICT). Different information communication technologies have emerged over the past decade. Internet-based communication technologies are the most identifiable communication technologies (Govindarajan, 2007). These technologies remarkably empowered the consumers by enabling them to access different types of information, which has led to the emergence of the information age (Canzer, 2006).

The current information technologies have made information flow more effective and efficient. Consumers can easily access information on which they base their decisions. Moreover, technologies have improved the effectiveness and efficiency with which consumers interact. Therefore, businesses can utilise the technologies to develop a strong customer base.

A study conducted by Accenture (2012) shows that ICT has led to a significant change in consumer behaviour. For example, innovations in ICT have led to the development of various mobile applications that have a positive impact on the consumers’ decision-making process (Jadhav, Kamble, & Patil, 2009).

Moreover, the development of social networking technologies has also had its fair share on the consumers’ behaviour. Bodnar and Cohen (2011) are of the opinion that social media is one of the major revolutions in ICT that is increasing the volume of consumer-generated content. Such content is changing marketing. For example, consumers around the world have become connected through various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube (Brunty, Helenek, & Miller, 2013). Thus, the technologies have improved the effectiveness and efficiency with which consumers interact. Therefore, business can utilise the technologies to develop a strong customer base.

Mobile device technologies have also played a significant role in the development of a substantial size of online community (Holmberg & Ohnfeldt, 2010). Consequently, the rate at which consumers are interacting with other individuals through online platforms is escalating (Nurgul, 2013). The high rate of mobile technology penetration has stimulated interaction amongst consumers (Opera, 2013).

Despite the view that development in mobile technology has affected different businesses, the fashion industry is the most affected. Mobile device technology has penetrated a substantial proportion of the global market. The large number of consumers who own Internet-enabled mobile devices such as smartphones makes this observation evident (O’Leary, Sheehan, & Lentz, 2011). Consequently, it is true to assert that mobile Internet has played a remarkable role in fuelling penetration of e-commerce, which has led to the emergence of a mobile fashion market place. A study conducted by Comscore in five European countries shows that approximately 12.4% of smartphone owners purchase different products and services online. The table below illustrates a summary on the consumers’ online purchasing behaviour.

Country Smartphone owners interviewed Year to year growth
Spain 1,963 141%
Germany 5,838 118%
Italy 2,969 76%
France 2,243 99%
UK 6,461 74%

The female gender is ranked as the largest consumer of fashion products. Consequently, fashion marketers are increasingly targeting females in an effort to maximise their profit (Holmberg & Ohnfeldt, 2010). A study conducted by Fashion United in 2013 shows that Europeans spend approximately 52.9 billion Euros annually on various fashion products such as apparels, accessories and footwear (Fashion United, 2013).

The rate of fashion product consumption is expected to increase because of emergence of mobile applications, which are providing consumers an opportunity to purchase online. This shows that there is a potential for market growth (Stone et al., 2000). In an effort to exploit the growing trend with regard to mobile device application in Germany, it is important for businesses in the fashion industry to consider how they can leverage on emerging technologies. One of the technologies that businesses should consider relates to information communication technologies, these technologies enable consumers to interact with one another.

Consequently, the likelihood of consumers utilising the technologies to exchange information related to fashion is high.

Women are ranked amongst the greatest drivers with regard to adoption of smartphones in Germany. A study conducted by Comscore shows that smartphone penetration amongst women in Germany has increased with a margin of 60%. This trend arises from the view that the smartphones enable consumers to communicate through diverse channels. Investors in the mobile communication industry are increasingly investing in research and development in an effort to improve the applicability of their mobile devices. One of the aspects that investors are considering entails integrating various applications that can enable customers interact with one another. Examples of such applications include the social media.

Women prefer using social media for communication through various social media platforms such as Facebook. On the other hand, men use their mobile devices for other services such as VoIP, which illustrates the difference between the consumer behaviour amongst men and women. According to Fashion United (2013), Germany is ranked amongst the largest market with regard to consumption of fashion in the European region.

Despite the high rate of mobile application penetration such as smartphones amongst women, only a small proportion of women in Germany have integrated mobile application in their buying process. Moreover, consumer-to-consumer buying through various mobile applications has not been fully exploited. In an effort to enhance attainment of the desired level of competitiveness, it is imperative for mobile device developers in Germany to consider how they can enhance the consumer-to-consumer buying behaviour by developing a new application. The mobile application developers should focus on the fashion product market. This study intends to intend to evaluate how fashion retailers in Germany can augment the consumer-to-consumer buying by increasing the rate of interaction through mobile application through emerging technologies, specifically mobile applications.

Consumers depict diverse behaviours in their purchasing process. Pride and Ferrell (2013) opine that consumer product preferences are changing at an alarming rate. Consequently, it is imperative for marketing managers to develop a comprehensive understanding of the consumers buying process in order to formulate optimal marketing mix strategies.

The impact of mobile application on consumer-to-consumer buying

According to Anderson and Zahaf (2009), information search is one of the critical stages in the consumer buying decision-making process. As mentioned above, a consumer can source for information from different sources. The development and the high rate of the Internet connectivity has revolutionised information search. Moreover, the Internet development has led to the creation of a new shopping experience. Consumers can easily search for diverse product information through various online platforms. Furthermore, consumers can easily shop for products from the comfort of their homes. Anderson and Zahaf (2009) assert that the Internet has led to the emergence of consumer-to-consumer business.

Kimmel (2010) further emphasises that the emergence of the Internet has remarkably empowered consumers hence leading to the emergence of consumer-to-consumer market. The high rate of technological innovation with regard to information communication technology has substantially improved the rate of connection amongst consumers. The Internet has led to the emergence of a new group of consumers, which presents a major challenge to entrepreneurs who have applied the traditional marketing approach.

The high rate of technological innovation has empowered the consumers. Anderson and Zahaf (2009) opine that most consumer theorists are not adequately prepared on how to handle the new consumer group. The new customer group is not only looking for a product to the consumer but are also concerned with the benefit that they can derive from the product. In order to satisfy the needs and wants of the new customer group, it is essential for entrepreneurs to determine the most effective strategy that they can adopt to successfully influence the new customer category in their decision making process (Somers, Cain, & Jeffrey, 2009).

The high rate of development with regard to information communication technology has improved the effectiveness and efficiency with which consumers interact and share information about fashion product. Consumers are increasingly seeking new avenues through which they can interact with other consumers. Anderson and Zahaf (2009) further posit that consumers have a ‘wired lifestyle’. Ryan (2012) is of the opinion that consumers “do not only use mobile applications to buy and sell products, but also to share their style and taste with regard to fashion” (Para. 8). One of the factors that have motivated consumers to seek information through online platforms is that they have a minimal amount of time in their purchasing process. Numerous mobile applications have been developed in an effort to address the consumers’ information needs.

The fashion market been greatly affected the emergence of diverse web-based application such as the mobile applications. Kim, Fiore, and Hyejeong (2011) assert, “In 2006, two million blogs mentioned fashion specifically” (p.150). Kim, Fiore, and Hyejeong (2011) further posit that women constitute approximately 70% of blog readers. Furthermore, more than 49% are aged between 22 and 30 years while 22% are students. This information shows that there is great interest on fashion amongst the online community. This interest is likely to influence the consumers’ behaviour with regard to fashion products. The probability of growth in the fashion market will also be enhanced by the view that consumers are increasingly utilising the Internet as a source of information (Hoyer & Maclnnis, 2008).

In addition to blogs, the 21st century is also characterised by growth in the mobile device market. Kim, Fiore, and Hyejeong (2011) posit that as “mobile devices become increasingly indispensable consumer tools, with the number of shopping applications or apps increasing potentially, fashion marketers have taken notice” (p.150). It is estimated that the sale of smartphones will overtake that of the personal computers in the near future. One of the factors that will stimulate their growth is that mobile devices are more convenient and portable compared to personal computers.

Currently, a considerable proportion of consumers of different demographic characteristics is organising their lives through different mobile devices. According to Kim, Fiore, and Hyejeong (2011), mobile devices are shaping the consumers’ behaviour. For example, consumers are using mobile devices to get information related to entertainment, marketing and maintaining relationships. Considering this trend, it is imperative for marketers to understand how best they can exploit the changing consumer behaviour with regard to consumption of mobile devices (Ryan, 2012).

The development of the iPad, which is innovative software, has played a remarkable role in stimulating the growth of mobile devices. The iPad has the capability of running in over 140,000 iPhone apps. Thus, mobile applications have provided consumers with a unique opportunity to interact and share diverse product information such as fashion. This trend is likely to undergo an exponential growth amongst women who are ranked the largest consumers of fashion products (Opera 2013).

In an effort to exploit the new market trend, fashion enthusiasts are investing in research and development on how they can enhance consumer interaction through mobile applications (Nurgul, 2013). The high rate of the Internet penetration in Germany has enhanced the growth of mobile devices. According to Waesche (2003), Germany has the highest rate of the Internet penetration in Germany. Consequently, a large number of consumers are spending a substantial amount of time on their time on various mobile applications just as they are on social media (Ryan, 2012).

Critique on the trend in consumer behaviour, decision making and choice

The above literature review shows that the consumer behaviour, decision making and choice are influenced by different external and internal forces. Some of the forces relate to psychological forces, social forces and situational forces. Understanding the consumers’ buying decision making process, behaviour and choice is critical in formulating operational strategies that can affect the consumers’ decision making process. Moreover, the study shows that the consumers undertake a number of steps in making a purchase decision. In order to successfuly influence consumer behaviour, it is essentiala for marketers to understand the decision making process and the most appropriate way to influence the process.

One of the steps in the decision making process relates to informatiion search. Consumers “search for product information from different sources such as friends relatives and family members” (Jain, 2008, p.92). Therefore, it is essential for entreprenuers and organisations to ensure that they provide consnumers with the information that they need in order to make a purchase decision. Moreover, the purchase decision is also influenced by the consumers perception and experiences.

Thus, it is critical for entreprenuers to develop an appealing post purchase experience. The post purchase experience plays a critical role in enhancing the creation of repeat purchase behaviour amongst the consumers. On the other hand, Rumambi and Djati (2008) assert that it “is not easy to create brand bonding with the customers, the customers must experience the benefits associated with the brand” (p.4).

The high rate of development with regard to information communication technology has remarkably influenced the consumer’s decision-making process, behaviour, and choice. First, emerging information communication technologies have made the process of informatiion search more effective and efficient. Moreover, developments with regard to information communication technologies have led to the emergence of consumer-to-consumer markets.

The literature review shows that the consumer’s decision making process and choice are influenced by various factors that emanate from internal and external sources. Moreover, the study shows that consumers are increasingly utilisinng mobile devices in their consumption process. Some of the areas that the mobile device technologies are being applied relate to entertainment and interaction. There are different mobile applications that have been developed in an effort to enhance interaction amongst consumers. The applications provide consumers who are enthusiastic about a particular product to interact with their colleagues and other individuals within the online community on the specific areas of application.

The study also shows that female consumers in Germany, especially those aged between 20 and 40 years are increasingly utilising various applications in thier consumption platforms. This trend has arisen from an increment in the number of female consumers who own Internet enabled mobile devices. Furthermore, the high rate at which consumers are utilising online platforms to search for product and service informaiton is likely to stimulat the growth of utilisation of mobile applications. The fashion industry is one of the market segments that has been greatly affected by the change in consumer behaviour. Considering the change in consumer behaviour, it is critical for marketers within the fashion industry to evaluate the most appropriate avenue that they can utilise in exploiting the new market trend.

One of the avenues through which the marketers can achieve this goal is by investing in information communication technology. Fashion entrepreneurs in Germany should focus on exploiting the growth potential with regard to mobile devices. The analysis shows that a relatively substantial proportion of women spend their time on various mobile device applications. Moreover, the women are more interested fashion products on mobile applications compared to other products, which shows that the likelihood of introducing a new mobile device application will enhance consumer interaction amongst the consumers. The high rate of the Internet penetration in Germany is likely to promote interaction amongst consumers. Therefore, the probability of improving consumer-to-consumer interaction with regard to fashion products is very high.

According to Czinkota (2009), introducing the growth of the mobile application maarket will play a critical role solving the information gap that the consnumers experience in thier decision making process. Moreover, the application will provide fashion enthusiasts with an opportunity to interact with other individuals within the online community on issues relaated to fashion. Consequently, the mobile application will lead to improvement in the consumer-to-consumer market and hence the decision making process.

Conclusion

The literature review highlights that the consumders are increasingly becoming dynamic in thier consumption process. From the review, consumers engage in a comprehensive decision making process prior to purchasing a particular product or service. Moreover, the consumers’ choice and behaviour are shaped by different factors. Therefore, it is imperative for marketers to develop a broad understanding of the consumer behaviour, choice and decision-making process.

Failure to understand these issues can limit an organisation’s competitiveness. Considering the vibrant nature and the intense competition in the fashion industry, it is imperative for industry players to consider the most effective strategies that they can adopt in their pursuit for competitive advantage. One of the ways through whcih the firms can achieve this goal is by ensuring that consumers are adequately informed about the firm’s products and services. Information plays a critical role in influencing the consumers’ purchase decision.

The high rate of research and development with regard to digital media presents an opportunity for firms to create sufficient product awareness. Consequently, firms should focus on nurturing effective and efficient consumer-to-consumer interaction. The study shows that the consumers’ behaviour is affected by different forces.

Some of the forces emanate from the internal and external forces. In a bid to market a product or service successfully, entreprenuers should focus on the most appropriate strategies that they can adopt in infnluenncing the decision making process. the high rate of investmentn in research and development with regard to information communication technology has stimulated the emergence of diverse mobile technologies. In an effort to improve thier competitiveness, it is imperative for entreprenuers to consider how best they can exploit the new makret trend.

One of the ways through which this goal can be achieved is by developing a mobile application that consumers can utilise in interacting with thier colleagues. Introducing the moble application will play a critical role in triggering purchase impulses amongst the consumers. For example, the consumers will be in a position to share a wide range of information and personal experiences with regard to fashion products with other individuals in the online community. Therefore, the likelihood of influencing the consumers in their decision making process is high.

In a bid to develop the mobile application successfully, it is important for a firm to ensure that it understands the consumers’ behaviour and opinions with regard to fashion. Therefore, conducting a comprehensive market research is essential. One of the ways through which organisations can achieve this goal is by conducting a comprehensive market research. The market research should focus on two main market variables, which include the consumer and the competitor.

The consumer market research should assess the consumer’s behaviour with regard to fashion products. Some of the issues that the mobile developer should take into account include the purchasing consumers purchasing patterns and the factors that influence their decision making process. When analysing the consumers’ decision-making process, it is imperative for the entrepreneur to focus on all the psychological, situational, and social factors. This aspect will give the organisation insight on the most appropriate strategy to adopt in influencing the consumers’ behaviour and decision-making.

It is also important for the entrepreneur to conduct a comprehensive competitor market research. The entrepreneurs should evaluate the competitors’ mobile applications, which will aid in identifying gaps that the entrepreneur can exploit in developing the new mobile application. This aspect will provide the consumer with an opportunity to integrate features that will lead to the creation of a unique experience amongst the consumers.

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