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Journal of Business Research 63 (2010) 801808

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Journal of Business Research

Female consumers: Decision-making in brand-driven retail


Elad Granot a,, Henry Greene b,1, Thomas G. Brashear c,2
a
b
c

Department of Marketing, Nance College of Business Administration, Cleveland State University, 2121 Euclid Avenue, BU453, Cleveland, Ohio 44115, United States
School of Business, Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley Street, New Britain, CT 06050, United States
Department of Marketing, Isenberg School of Management, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA 01003, United States

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Received 1 April 2006
Received in revised form 1 April 2007
Accepted 1 January 2008
Keywords:
Brand-driven retail
Female consumers
Decision-making
Qualitative research
In-depth interviews

a b s t r a c t
This article is a theory-building exploratory study conducted to investigate how female shoppers make meaning
in a branded-retail store shopping experience. This study extends research on retail consumers' decision-making
and the retail shopping experience using hermeneutic phenomenology. The authors conducted in-depth
interviews with respondents, who were self-identied customers of a leading intimate apparel retailer. The
results suggest that consumers' retail shopping decision-making incorporates a complex set of interactive
components that are brand-driven and simultaneously affect and are affected by the interaction of in-store
shopping and retail setting. The ndings show a rich understanding of the consumer decision-making process is
achievable by including the actual in-store experience, consumers' prior contextual experiences and expectations
regarding retail visits.
2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
The breadth of products, brands and retail channels available to the
American consumer continues to increase. Retail stores display tens of
thousands of SKUs in a variety of categories; displaying all brand
extensions requires multiple shelves and even multiple aisles. The range
of brands, line extensions and product information has complicated
consumer decision-making strategies. Research on consumer decisionmaking in a retail context has focused on two primary approaches; the
shopping, selection and decision processes and in-store retail atmospherics. Regarding customer shopping, selection and decision-making,
researchers such as McDonald (1998) and Michon, Chebat, and Turley
(2005) focus on customer characteristics, including demographics,
shopping attitudes, emotions, and budget to help explain the decisionmaking process. With respect to retail atmospherics, researchers
examine store atmospherics such as fragrance, music, brightness,
texture, color, temperature and smoothness and their impact on
consumer perceptions (Greenland and McGoldrick, 1995; McGoldrick
and Pieros, 1998; Turley and Chebat, 2002; Turley and Bolton, 1999;
Terblanche and Boshoff, 2005).
Gobe (2001) acknowledges the emerging importance of brand in the
retail experience. This paper extends that view and posits a similar view
in terms of decision-making and the resulting interaction. Most research
examines retail atmospherics in isolation. Although the results are

intriguing and enlightening, developing a richer understanding of


brand-driven retail shopping and consumer decision-making through a
holistic and qualitative consumer-focused approach is possible. Qualitative methods are not new to retail atmospheric studies. Baker,
Parasuraman, Grewal and Voss (2002) use both qualitative and
quantitative methods when evaluating multistore atmospherics. Underhill (1999) utilized retail anthropology, consisting of reviewing in-store
video tapes to investigate customer shopping behavior.
This paper utilizes in-depth interviews as a methodology for
capturing the meaning of consumer experiences. The paper chronicles
the narratives of female consumers of a leading intimate apparel, retail
brand. Female consumers are the most inuential consumer segment in
the American market, yet are understudied to the point of being ignored
(Warner, 2005). The aim of this investigation is to uncover information
that will increase knowledge about the formulation, evolution, and
execution of the female consumers' decision-making process.
The organization of this paper includes; an overview of the retail
consumer decision-making process, a rationale for delving deeper into
consumers' thoughts and decision processes, a description of the data
collection method, and an explanation of the research methodology.
Following the methodology discussion, the data is analyzed and
summarized. The paper closes with conclusions and future research
suggestions.
2. Consumer retail decision-making

Corresponding author. Tel.: + 1 216 687 3850.


E-mail addresses: e.granot@csuohio.edu (E. Granot), Greenehej@CCSU.edu
(H. Greene), brashear@mktg.umass.edu (T.G. Brashear).
1
Tel.: + 1 860 832 3308.
2
Tel.: + 1 413 545 5666; fax: + 1 413 545 3858.
0148-2963/$ see front matter 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2010.04.006

Richarme (2004) summarizes a variety of theories including Utility


Theory (Von Neumann and Morgenstern, 1944), Satiscing Theory
(Simon, 1979) and Prospect Theory (Kahneman and Tversky, 1979)
that address consumer decision-making that marketers use to

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E. Granot et al. / Journal of Business Research 63 (2010) 801808

understand the shopping experience. Two specic concepts emerge,


consideration and involvement (Richarme, 2004). Early research
viewed consumers as rational beings, attempting to maximize their
well-being. Current theories suggest a plethora of motivations that
describe decision-making as a more complex process (Myers, 1962;
Zaltman, 2003). Consumers are inuenced by multiple forces and they
purchase with multiple objectives, both characteristics affect decision-making (Armstrong and Kotler, 2006; Blackwell et al., 2001;
Carpenter and Fairhurst, 2005). McDonald (1998) recognizes a duality
of decision-making, acknowledging both rational and emotional components of the experience. Although marketing researchers seldom
recognizes the duality, it is well accepted among social scientists.
Contextual factors, not all of which are conscious, inuence the retail
shopping process, including selection and purchase. Consumers, when
asked to recall prior actions are more likely to explain their behavior
with rational arguments rather than call on their subconscious,
emotional impulses (McDonald, 1998). Olshavsky and Granbois
(1979) acknowledge that in observational studies, many consumers
shop without following the choice model processes, theorized by many
researchers. Zaltman (2003) posits that 95% of consumer choice is based
on subconscious processing.
An additional factor in consumer decision-making in a retail
environment is the recognition of the role of store sales personnel.
Reynolds and Arnold (2000) note that effective sales people not only
inuence the shopping process but also may inuence the consumer to
switch their store patronage. Consumers may abandon one retailer to
follow specic sales and service personnel to a new retailer. Terblanche
and Boshoff (2005) support the importance of sales personnel. The
shopping process can be affected by an emotional relationship between
shopper and salesperson, typically not accounted for in the literature.
Researchers have discovered many factors that inuence decisionmaking. Rajagopalan and Heitmeyer (2005) and Bennett and Hartel
(2005) acknowledge that culture impacts consumer decision-making.
Consumers have a need to identify with and t in their culture.
Hyllegard et al. (2005) indicate that simple demographics (age, gender
and income) affect consumer decision-making. Bakewell and Mitchell
(2003) describe generational differences in female shoppers. Moore,
Wilkie, and Lutz (2002) note the inuence of older generation
consumers on their children, specically daughters purchasing the
same household product brands as their mothers. Arnould (2000)
suggests that shopping serves as an act of love, indicating the emotional
involvement affecting the decision-making process. Thus, the consumer
decision-making process is complicated and the models built with
psychological, social and environmental factors are not easily revealed.
3. Retail environment and atmospherics
A second approach to understanding the consumer decision-making
process is to examine atmospherics (store environment). Babin and
Attaway (2000) demonstrate that the physical retail atmosphere can
effectively increase the shopping experience. Chebat, Chebat and
Vaillant (2001) investigate the impact of music while Michon, Chebat
and Turley (2005) examine the inuence of scent as well as customer
density. Bitner (1992) acknowledges that physical surroundings play a
signicant impact on customer satisfaction. Fulberg (2003) posits that
retailers fail to effectively take full advantage of this phenomena, and
suggests that retailers can create environments that engage multiple
sensory stimulations sound, sight, smell, and tactile to enhance the
shopping experience. Wesley, LeHew, and Woodside (2006) link store
type and location to different decision-making strategies. Sharma
(2001) discusses the value of sales personnel in the shopping
experience. Carpenter and Fairhurst (2005) acknowledge that retail
shopping is both hedonic and utilitarian and that the hedonic aspect
plays a role in consumer satisfaction and loyalty. Underhill (1999), also
makes several observations regarding store atmospherics: placement of
perfume counters, quality of dressing rooms, positioning of products on

shelves, etc., all of which impact decision-making. The retail atmosphere


plays a signicant role in consumer decision-making and is worthy of
consideration when investigating brand-driven retail shopping.
4. Methodology
The authors utilized a diverse methodological approach and
multiple frameworks to produce a comprehensive interpretation
and analysis of the data. Qualitative methods developed by Strauss
and Quinn (1997), D''Andrade (1981), and Tyler (1969), hermeneutic-phenomenology, developed by Schutz and Luckmann (1973) and
interpreted by Van Manen (1990), and in-depth interviewing, as
described and prescribed by Seidman (1998), were used as methods
of inquiry and as guides for data collecting and analysis.
Although these forms of inquiry are diverse (Spiegelberg 1982;
Zaner and Ihde 1973) common principles exist that inform this
research. These principles include understanding the phenomena
from the inside, comprehending the meaning of everyday experiences
and providing credible insights of our social world. Other research
approaches in marketing frequently make use of experimental or
articially created test situations. The approach in this paper is to
meet consumers where they are naturally engaged.
A phenomenological study entails the research of a phenomenon
by obtaining verbal descriptions based on perceptions of this
phenomenon: aiming to nd common themes or elements that
comprise the phenomenon. This study uncovers and describes the
elements (texture) and the underlying factors (structure) that
comprise the experience and the meaning of being a decision-making
retail consumer. According to Creswell (1998), a phenomenological
study describes the meaning of the lived experiences for several
individuals about the phenomenon.
Creswell (1998) describes the role of the researcher as an instrument
of data collection who gathers words or pictures, analyzes them
inductively, focuses on the meaning of participants, and describes a
process that is expressive and persuasive in language (p. 14).
5. Data gathering
The study employs Seidman's (1998) three-interview series model
as well as Van Manen's (1991) conceptualization of hermeneuticphenomenology because of practicality, coherence, sense of creativity
and structured forms. Van Manen's approach favors the articulation
and importance of context and the need for the development of
creative approaches and procedures when carrying out research
studies. The goal is to bring out an understanding and awareness of
self within the context of the study boundaries.
All data were collected via one-on-one interviews, using informal,
unstructured and undirected conversation. Apart from specic data
such as demographic information, questions directed at the participants varied from person to person. The collection of data was divided
into three stages (Seidman, 1998); the interviews are designed to
yield two complementary types of information: a rst-person
description of the participant's history in context and contextual
details of the participant's lived experience. Stories describing the
usage of the retail brand's products in the participant's consumption
repertoire were elicited. During the interview, the researcher strives
for elaboration based on participants' own words (e.g., expressions
describing consumer-product interaction). During the interviews, the
researcher probes for further elaboration. Each interview stage has a
specic purpose.
5.1. Stage one interview
Stage one involves obtaining each participant's life history,
focusing on experience as a female consumer in relation to the retail
brand. The rst interview seeks information about participants as well

E. Granot et al. / Journal of Business Research 63 (2010) 801808

as their thoughts of the product category, women's intimate apparel,


and a specic retail brand in the category. Participants are asked to
recall their past lives. The purpose of this stage is to situate each
participant's concept of themselves within the context of their own
life history. A second objective is to place current concept of the
consumer self within the context of her contemporary life. Participants are encouraged to discuss their families, friends, workmates,
and cultural afliations, reconstructing their experiences and providing insight into their backgrounds and personalities.

5.2. Stage two interview


Participants are asked to focus on shopping experiences. The interview starts with the prompt, Tell me about an item that you purchased
and would like to discuss. Participants are allowed to select a salient
product and to reveal their lived experience as it naturally occurred in
their interactions with the product (Fournier and Mick, 1999).
Participants are asked to describe the emotional experience. In order
to place their experiences within the social context, participants were
asked to discuss other relationships they may have had with other
product brands and the eventual outcomes. This may include discussions relating to family and community.

5.3. Stage three interview


Participants are asked to reect upon their retail experiences, what
these reections now mean and if their thoughts about their
experiences have changed since the previous interview. This
reection connects intellectual and emotional experiences between
the participants, their lives and the retail brand shopping experience.

6. Keeping interviewing and analysis separate


Some researchers call for an integration of interviewing and analysis
(e.g., Lincoln and Guba, 1985; Maxwell, 1996; Miles and Huberman,
1984). Separating the processes of gathering and analyzing data is
difcult. Interview preparation may bias the objectivity of anticipated
results. However, as the interviews unfold, research objectivity recenters to the data as it is revealed. Interviews are reviewed immediately after completion in anticipation of the next interview. Seidman
(1998) recognizes the potential for interview bias. He urges researchers
to live with the interviews, constantly reecting on prior interviews
before the next interview. Only after all interviews are completed are
the transcripts analyzed. This strategy attempts to minimize researcher
bias on the generative process of the interviews.

7. Data analysis
The authors chose thematic analysis for this study. It provides a
fast and convenient means for nding meaningful themes within
large amounts of text. Themes are allowed to emerge from the data.
The techniques imposed reveal the relative importance and interrelationships among themes.
Of great importance is the concept of essence, and the ways in which
the research captures it by way of thematic reection (Van Manen,
1990; Husserl 1982). A theme, according to Van Manen (1990, p. 87), is
the experience of meaning, a simplication and summary of the notion,
the form of capturing a phenomenon. The concept of theme is the
needfulness to make sense, the openness to do something and the
process of insightful invention, discovery and disclosure. In terms of
how theme relates to the notion of what is being studied, theme is (1)
the means to get at the notion; it describes the content of the notion and
it is always a reduction of a notion (Van Manen, 1990, p. 88).

803

8. Studying, marking and reducing the text


The vast array of words, sentences, paragraphs, and pages have to
be reduced to what is of most importance and interest (McCracken,
1998; Miles and Huberman, 1984; Wolcott, 1990). Data reduction is
done inductively rather than deductively (Seidman, 1998). The data is
not addressed with a set of hypotheses or with a theory developed in
another context to match the data (Glaser and Strauss, 1967).
However, no researcher can enter into an interview study with a
clean slate Meyer and Rowan (1991). All responses to a text are
interactions between the reader and the text (Fish, 1980; Rosenblatt,
1982). Researchers identify their interest in the subject to recognize
that their interest is neither unhealthy nor infused with anger, bias, or
prejudice. The interviewers must come to the transcript prepared to
let the interview breathe and speak for itself (Seidman, 1998).
Text reduction begins with marking interesting passages. Each
individual transcript typically yields several passages related to the
research question (Seidman, 1998). After transcribing the interviews,
a horizonalization table is created; thematically and contextually
signicant audio clip transcriptions are listed horizontally. Redundancies are eliminated and similar themes are clustered, uniquely
different themes emerged from the process, referred to as phenomenological reduction. Marshall (1981) comments on this winnowing
process, remarking that the process is no different from what is
required in responding to other texts a close reading plus judgment
(Mostyn, 1985).
During the process, researchers exercise personal judgment about
what is signicant. In reducing the material, researchers interpret,
analyze and make meaning (Seidman, 1998). As part of the process,
participants are asked to review marked passages. This serves as a check
for validity and importance. This process does not serve as a substitute
for a researcher's judgment (Lightfoot, 1983). The researcher brings
experience working with and internalizing interviewing material;
considered the most important ingredient in the study (Marshall, 1981).
The data is interpreted in two ways: 1) case by case, major themes
are identied related to shopping and decision-making; 2) across cases,
critical experiences of the participants are identied. The analytical
approach owed from the study's objectives and followed Burawoy's
(1991) call for using qualitative data both to challenge existing theory
and to develop a new theory. For building grounded theory, the study
follows guidelines that Strauss and Corbin (1990) articulate.
Transcripts were coded using a priori categories (e.g. atmospherics, salesperson qualities, and location) and emergent categories.
Throughout the analysis relevant literature is repeatedly reviewed, a
tacking strategy (Fournier, 1998).
An extensive process is used to identify and preserve key insights.
The rst step consists of open coding, uncovering and identifying
important passages that help explain the decision-making and
shopping experiences with the retailer and its brand. Seventy-three
different ideas emerged from the data. This was followed by process
coding where the 73 ideas (discreet quotes) were coded into audio le
clippings (Crichton and Childs, 2005). Linkages were created that
connected categories and themes among the categories (Seidman,
1998). While listening to the interview recordings and reading
transcripts, passages were marked as interesting and labeled
appropriately. Passages that were connected to others and repeatedly
mentioned were identied are considered most important (Kvale,
1996). Two additional researchers were recruited to provide peer
reviews. Their coding yielded 42 categories that were in unanimous
agreement.
The nal coding stage consisted of axial coding, producing the
thematic ideas of the retail consumers' decision-making process being
anchored in the brand (communication, image, relationship, features,
functions, and benets) the store shopping experience, its atmospherics, and the interaction between them serve as central ltering
prisms for understanding the relationship between consumer

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E. Granot et al. / Journal of Business Research 63 (2010) 801808

decision-making and brand loyalty. The study integrates these initial


categories into a further analytical procedure, domain analysis
(Spradley, 1980). A graphic representation of the entire coding and
analytic processes are demonstrated in Fig. 1.

9. Trustworthiness
The authors maintained trustworthiness by adhering to the
standard for competent and ethical practice (Seidman, 1998) and by
respecting the participants' privacy. All names (Table 1) and interview
sites remain private. Internal and external audits were performed
continuously throughout the research. Member checks gauged the
credibility of the authors' interpretations against the view of those
sharing their stories. Colleagues reviewed interview transcripts and
interpretive summaries in peer debriengs. To ensure objectivity
and recognizability in interpretation, multiple stories from the
same person, conducted at different times were triangulated when
appropriate.

10. Findings
The retailer has a multiple set of brand-driven emotional and social
consumer benets. The brand is much more than just its product
forms, the brand is the in-store shopping environment, the in-store
shopping experience and the post store shopping experience (e.g.
carrying branded shopping bags through a mall). It provides brandcentric emotional value before during and after purchase.
10.1. Emergent categories and themes axial coding
Three major themes surfaced related to decision-making, shopping and consumption of the retailer's brand and products. Fig. 2
includes this nding.
11. Theme I: product/brand emotional signicance
This element emerged as the dominant theme in consumers'
self-reported decision-making. There are two sub categories, fun

Fig. 1. Domain analysis.

E. Granot et al. / Journal of Business Research 63 (2010) 801808

805

11.1. Fun

Table 1
Proles of women in the study.
Pseudonym

Age

Occupation

Cathy
Rachel
Margaret
Helen
Ann
Laura
Robin
Julie
Amy
Hilary
Sandy
Stacy
Suzanne
Cindy
Becky
Heather
Miranda

27
23
43
21
34
38
19
26
21
29
24
22
20
31
22
26
28

Graduate student
Dental hygienist
Legal secretary
Student
Lawyer
Realtor
Student
Librarian/graduate student
Student
Teacher
Artist
Student
Student/part-time waitress
Graduate student
Student
Physician's assistant
Storeowner

and fashion. These elements cause participants to feel special and


unique, despite their understanding of the brand's ubiquity. Overall, a sense of brand-centered self-appreciation and self-reward is
deeply engrained in this theme.
There is no other storedevoted strictly tolingerie and underwearthere is nowhere else that you would go to get underwear
than (the brand) Helen
I wanted to have thebrand name Amy
You see the models all over the placeand its part of, like, the
attraction to the name of (the brand) Cathy
I feel like if I get something from there in a way, just because it's
from (the brand), its better Julie
The brand nameis important to meand I think anyone who said
that they didn't go there for the brand namewould be lying
Miranda
It's what's sexy. It's what lingerie is, you know, (the brand) isin
comparison to any other brand is what I mean Suzanne
For every piece of fashion, whether underwear or jeans, or purse,
there is just some brand that people know is like the it brand. Sort
of like for a cara BMW, or for bras like oh (the brand) Laura

Participants genuinely enjoy their relationship with the brand.


Their ability to experiment and express themselves without being
conspicuous, lends an air of fun and excitement to their daily
experiences.
You know, sometimes it is just fun to wear colored bras. I do not
really know why. Other people don't see itI always want to wear
cute bras and cute underwear, it makes you feel good Stacy
It's not like people see itit feels very comfortableI like their
styles, again, not that anyone sees my underwearbut it's a fun
thing for me it's fun to have more colors Becky
Female consumers consider their undergarments to be functional,
yet highly personalized and customizable personal space, where they
can communicate with themselves as private beings, and treat
themselves to a fun experience without being subjected to social
evaluations.
It's kind of like practical, yet like taking care of yourself with a new
bra, or new underwear. It's a fun thing, makes you feel good
Laura
Finally, this feeling of pure fun and joy facilitates a recurring subcurrent in this study; consumers' love for the brand has shifted their
need-based consumption of undergarments to a want-based involvement with intimate fashion.
I didn't need it, but I loved it. Hillary
I need the stuff from (the brand)you go into my room;
everything is from (the brand). Every single bra, every pair of
underwear, every tank-top Robin
I feel sexyattractiveI guess the advertisingreally does work
Helen
11.2. Fashionable
Female consumers, regardless of age and social status, are
concerned with keeping up with fashion trends (Warner, 2005).
Normally, this would be accepted as a mainstay of fashion labels and
clothing in general. However, the inability to display intimate apparel
highlights the emotional signicance the retailer has for these
women. Despite an inherent incapacity to display the product,
consumers feel they want it to be relevant and fashionable, to a
point where it is the it brand in its category.
You don't seeTarget going on TV with, like, tons of incredibly
pretty models parading down the runway in, like, Target lingerie
and yousee that with (the brand). And I think it's still partly, like,
if I wear this andfamous models wear this underwear and Tyra
Banks wears this underwearI'm attracted more to the idea.
Rachel
You know you're not going to be like Tyra Banksbut in some way
you are looking to embody some of these qualities because that
likeyou know, that's what she is and whoever the model is, that's
their image. Becky
They have a pretty long (Christmas) ad; it denitely got me to go
there. Because it was like wow!... they have new stuff there and its
sexy, I need to go and get it Heather
They are fashionable, they're sexy, they're functional, they are high
quality Sandy
You look at the ladies modeling this stuffin magazines, on TV, and
you see how they lookin their bras and underwear and lingerie
and you kind of picture yourself in their stuffyou look at these
glamorous models andyou want to be them Robin

Fig. 2. Brand-focused in-store components.

This theme is about expressing personal taste and practicing


sophistication, discerning abilities, and success. This theme is also

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E. Granot et al. / Journal of Business Research 63 (2010) 801808

about being hip, looking stylish, and feeling unique. Lingerie enables
consumers to express their style, knowledge, taste, and values.
Although participants are not driven primarily by a desire for status
or empty infatuation with a brand name, that does not mean they care
nothing for the messages that the brand delivers about their
individual style. Participants know they can say a lot about themselves
through their choice of specic brands and types of goods. Participants
are careful to align themselves with the retailer's brand because they
have a genuine afnity for it and feel it is a good match for their own
individual style.
When consumers purchase brands that are meaningful to them
and align with their own activities and values, the combination can be
powerful (McAlexander et al., 2002). The retailer's brand becomes a
language, a method of self-expression and dialogue. There is more
complexity, interest, variation, and subtlety in the retailer's brand
than in competing products. For shoppers, the brand provides a rich
and broad vocabulary with which to speak.
12. Theme II: retail shopping experience
The next two themes separate the retailer from its competitors.
Whereas most intimate apparel brands have been concerned with
restricting distribution and limiting customer service (Dubois and
Paternault, 1995) as a form of creating and maintaining exclusivity,
the retailer has established the largest retail distribution network in
intimate apparel, and one of the largest overall. Despite its ubiquity,
the brand has increased the level of its customers' loyalty. Participants
explain that a superior retail experience, retail setting and excellent
customer service, enhances the brand experience.
Every time I pass (the store), I have to go in Margaret
It's just kind of like the place that you go Amy
12.1. Enjoyable shopping experience
Participants describe the shopping experience, particularly in the
store, as especially pleasing. It is an excursion they plan for, anticipate
and thoroughly enjoy. Most participants referred to other retail
options for intimate apparel less favorably, a comparison that further
heightens the retailer's value in consumers' minds.
There is something about the store (laughs) it's like a smile I have
on my face Cathy
Even if I have to paymore for itit's worth it to me. Suzanne
I enjoy being a customer there Ann
I would spend$50, $60, $70 without really thinking about it
because I want it for me. I want (the retailer's) things. Heather
12.2. Connecting with loved ones
Most participants started shopping at the retailer's stores as a
social activity with either family members or close friends. This
coming-of-age experience is further developed in adulthood by
including friends in shopping ventures or reminiscing about shopping
events. The brand experience is highly involving, serving as a campre
or town square of female consumerism. It is not surprising that men
are a rare sight in this retail store. It is a feminine haven, staffed by
women, catering to women.
I don't want to bring a guy in. just because they all get soyou see
those guys with their girlfriends that are so uncomfortable being in
the store. It's all women there, because women are the workers
Becky
Whenever it was valentine's dayor me and my boyfriend were
doing something, it was like alright, go to the retailer and you'd
get some cute underwearcause it's your boyfriend's birthday
Becky

It's a tradition type of thing that my mom and my oldest sister have
always bought the retailer Becky
You need to have what other people have; especially like my close,
close friendsthey all talk about it, too. Like, did you guys get the ...
catalogue? I feel like if I wasn't getting the catalogue, I'd be missing
out. Robin
They were all shopping there, they brought me there, they made
me feel like if you're going to get underwear you shop at the retailer
Sandy
I'd rather shop with my friends. It's really much more fun when
you're with your friends and you kind of laugh at things. If you see
something that's ridiculouslyskimpy, you kind of laughit sounds
ridicules, but you kind of bond in there Stacy
It sort of feels like a little club. I'm sure lots of women shop there,
but you kind of feel a little privilegedeven when you walk in the
mall and see someone with a the retailer bag, you go oh, she shops at
the retailer Sandy
My family always shops there for wedding gifts type things, bridal
showers. Always have to have things from the retailer Margaret
13. Theme III: retail environment
The retailer in this study has a thriving catalogue channel and
website, and the retail stores enjoy signicant success. Although
consumers shop on line, the emotional pleasure derived from
shopping at the physical location is extraordinary. All channels
reinforce brand value, but the retail stores appear to produce the
most signicant pleasure.
I do the catalogue and online equally. but not nearly as much as I
do the store Ann
The way it makes me feel when I wear the clothes and when I shop
there, and the service there denitely adds to the (the store)
experience. Miranda
A really, really good feeling. You get to leave the store smiling, or
laughing. That's got to be gooda general feeling of happiness
Cindy
I nd the store very fun. It's always bright and happy. The staff are
happyit's a fun experience shopping there Laura
It is a little more expensive I personally can justify spending .
for any sort of personal experience that you get that you wouldn't
get at sort of a department store Cindy
It's just very nice. It kind of has an upper classprestigious feel
Robin
13.1. Superior customer service
One of the signicantly differentiating qualities is the personalized
customer service. Participants appreciate and expect superior service.
Despite being part of a large chain, well-trained sales staff provide
attentive, but not overbearing pushiness. Being the only brand that
provides such exceptional service, helps establish the brand as a
premium service provider.
If you were to go into a department store, you probably wouldn't
have people helping you one on onemeasure you, nd the right
bra for you, looking for exactly the kind of bra you wantedhow
much coverage, and how thick, and how much padding Ann
They are very good at nding a problem and solving it Hilary
Their customer service is really good. But in a specic sense, that is
to say they are very helpful to their customers, but a lot of places can
be very attentive, but in a way that turns you offBut they are really
helpfulthey don't badger youthat's one thing that I think is key.
And when they do help youthey know their products very well
and they would help you, like, quickly Cindy
The way it makes me feel when I shop there, and the service
there denitely adds to the retailer experience. Cathy

E. Granot et al. / Journal of Business Research 63 (2010) 801808

The service there denitely adds to the retailer experience.


Heather
13.2. Large variety
The retailer possesses the largest market-share; it is able to stock
the largest selection of goods in its category. It is viewed as a specialty
store capable of providing the largest variety of products. This helps
cement customer loyalty for the brand.
There is no other storedevoted strictly tolingerie and underwearthere is nowhere else that you would go to get underwear
than (the store) Margaret
Once I went there, I started liking the underwear, and like the
cloths, and like the braseven now I still get underwear from there,
but I get more like their clothslike their pajamas Miranda
The things that they have thereI do feel likethey are nicer than
the things I could get anywhere else Cathy
They have a much bigger selection than most other placesI've
never gone in there looking for something and not being able to nd
it. Suzanne
If you need underwear for a special occasion you go there because
they have the nicest stuffthe cutest stuffwhat I think is like the
best stuff. So anytime I had an occasion when I might need
something special to wear, I would go to (the store). Sandy
If I was to compare (the store) to aI don't know, like another
lingerie store I couldn't really think of another lingerie store, or
like, let's say a lingerie department in a department store, it's just so
much more eye-catching, got a lot of colors Rachel
I go there for a specic type of bra. I want it to do its jobI want it
to (laughs) make my boobs look bigger, because that's my need as a
customer for a bra, and they ll that need. Helen

807

brand can be a major driver in retail consumer decision-making. Much


attention has been given to atmospherics and the shopping process,
however scholarly papers addressing the impact of brand are
nonexistent. This study begins to remedy this shortcoming. A model
representing the decision-making process and derived consumer
benets is provided below (Fig. 3).
This study of the retailer's brand and its consumers has provided a
description of a brand as a core component in the female consumers'
decision-making processes. Three themes emerged as drivers in retail
decision-making. One is emotional (brand), another is service (retail
environment) and the third is experiential (shopping and consumption). Retailers should address all three issues to maximize their
ability to attract and retain customers. The retail brand provides a
compelling reason for consumers to shop. More than merchandise
quality and functionality or retail environment, the brand promises
emotional satisfaction and it engenders loyalty.
The retailer in this study has created its own category of premium,
high quality, emotionally signicant retail brand. It offers products in a
superior experiential retail setting, packaged with a meaningful brandmarketing message. A great selling staff and a strong brand identity are
essential tools, but need to be fully utilized. That is a matter of offering
comfort and convenience, atmosphere and ambience. Everything in the
environment is important, physical interior, music, scent and visuals.
The combination of physical elements, customer service and emotional
comfort, all contribute to the shopping experience.
The brand directly affects the consumer's shopping experience.
Consistency between the brand's promise and in-store delivery is
crucial in directing consumers' decision-making. This leads to brand
loyalty, high customer retention, and a disproportionately high share
of customers Babin and Attaway, 2000). Loyalty feeds back into the
brand image, intensifying the brand perception.
15. Future research

14. Conclusions
The importance of branding in the retail decision-making process
is scant in academic literature. The main nding in this study is that

This investigation provided a consumer decision-making model. A


next step would include renement of the model. Additional research is
suggested to uncover consumers' preference for specic retail branded

Fig. 3. A model of consumers' brand-driven retail experience.

808

E. Granot et al. / Journal of Business Research 63 (2010) 801808

stores. Research may be used to explain the bifurcation of retailing as


suggested by Fiske and Silverstein (2002) or the variation in loyalty to
retailers.
The study's sampling frame was restricted to female consumers.
Female consumers in the U.S. are dramatically changing the economic
landscape as wage earners and consumers. In the U.S., women control
more money than ever - $7 trillion in consumer and business
spending combined more than Japan's entire economy (Warner,
2005). Yet, even as women undergo this social and economic
revolution, most marketing researchers have failed to acknowledge
the signicance and potential impact on brands, business, products,
and services. The importance of female consumers has begun to
resonate and radiate into business. The extension of our research into
other unexplored aspects of the female consumer would be a worthy
endeavor.
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