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Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics

Malaysian shopping mall behavior: an exploratory study


Zafar U. Ahmed, Morry Ghingold, Zainurin Dahari,
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Malaysian shopping mall Malaysian


shopping mall
behavior: an exploratory study behavior
Zafar U. Ahmed
Texas A&M University at Commerce, Commerce, Texas, USA
Morry Ghingold 331
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Bloomsburg, Received July 2005
Pennsylvania, USA, and Revised December 2005
Zainurin Dahari Accepted April 2006
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International Islamic University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Abstract
Purpose The ascendancy of the shopping mall as a significant shopping, social interaction and/or
entertainment destination has had a major impact on retail strategies and the retail landscape in numerous
countries, especially the USA. Shopping malls are not nearly as well established in developing and
newly industrialized countries, however. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to assess international
consumer behavior in regards to shopping malls in a non-Western country, specifically, Malaysia.
Design/methodology/approach A survey of Malaysian university students was conducted to
assess the mall-directed shopping habits and shopping orientations of young adults in that country. A
total of 132 usable surveys were obtained from five university campuses in the Klang Valley region of
Malaysia, a region with a numerous institutions of higher learning.
Findings Malaysian students were motivated to visit malls primarily by the interior design of the
mall; products that interested them; opportunities for socializing with friends; and convenient one-
stop shopping. Further analysis showed that younger respondents have more favorable dispositions
or shopping orientations towards malls than somewhat older respondents. Post-secondary students
in the Klang Valley of Malaysia were frequent and long-staying visitors to shopping malls, typically
visiting six stores per 2.5 h mall visit. And, more than one-third of respondents visited three or more
different shopping malls during the previous 30 days. Generally, the observed Malaysian shopping
behavior was similar to that observed of Western shoppers in prior shopping studies.
Research limitations/implications The sampling frame for this research was limited to
students in the Klang Valley regions in Malaysia. Study findings, although interesting, are clearly not
generalizable to all populations of non-Western consumers or even all Malaysian consumers. The
non-probabilistic convenience sampling methods used in this research due to time and resource
constraints may have lead to biases in selection of respondents. It is recommended that future
research utilize random sampling methods to ensure the generalizability of results. Future research
should also consider a broader demographic profile (not just students) representing multiple
geographical locations in Malaysia as well as other countries in the Asia-pacific region given that
consumers shopping-related perceptions and expectations are likely to differ across countries or
cultures throughout the world.
Originality/value The data indicated the primacy of certain shopping motives over others in
explaining why respondents visited shopping malls. The results of our study have several
implications that should be of benefit to the retailing industry, and mall management, specifically.
Keywords Consumer behaviour, Cross-cultural studies, Shopping centres, Malaysia
Paper type Research paper

Introduction
According to Tauber (1972), consumer behavior consists of three distinct activities: Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing
shopping, buying, and consuming. Considerable progress has been achieved in and Logistics
Vol. 19 No. 4, 2007
identifying behavioral dimensions of buying and a number of theories on buying pp. 331-348
behavior have been postulated. However, much less is known about the determinants # Emerald Group Publishing Limited
1355-5855
of consuming and shopping behavior. Moreover, consumer research has historically DOI 10.1108/13555850710827841
APJML examined consumers in Western countries. Clearly, consumers in non-Western and
19,4 developing countries, such as Malaysia, for example, are also of substantial theoretical
and managerial importance.
Shopping behavior is a distinctive form of consumer behavior (Assael, 1987). The
more common shopping contexts or episodes are shopping for groceries, household
items, clothing, and gifts. Shopping behaviors are context specific; the motives and
behaviors evident when a consumer is shopping for gifts are not the same as those
332 exhibited when the consumer shops for groceries, for example (Dholakia, 1999). And,
individual consumers motives and attitudes towards shopping often vary
significantly.
For some consumers, shopping represents the prospect of picking up a bargain; for
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others it provides an opportunity to interact socially with other people or simply an


opportunity for a welcome break from a tedious routine (Reid and Brown, 1996). Two
consumers may shop at the same stores for similar reasons, e.g. convenience, courteous
help, nice decor, etc., but one consumers attitude to shopping can be totally different
from the others. One consumer may find shopping a burden, something to be done
quickly with a minimum of effort while another may enjoy shopping, engaging in it as
sport by achieving the satisfaction of buying a desired item at a bargain price. This
latter consumer does not mind spending time searching for alternatives.
According to Underhill (1999), shopping is more than the simple, dutiful acquisition
of whatever is absolutely necessary to ones life. It is more than grab and go you
need corn flakes, you find the corn flakes, you grab the corn flakes, you pay for the
corn flakes and go. Shopping today involves multiple senses sight, smell, taste, touch,
hearing as the basis for choosing or rejecting brands, products, and, more generally,
retail environments. Underhill (1999) stressed that virtually all unplanned purchases
and many planned ones, as well, come as the result of a shopper seeing, touching,
smelling, or tasting something that promises pleasure, if not total fulfillment. This
view has been reinforced with Underhills return visit to (Western) malls (Call of the
Mall, Underhill, 2005). Underhill argues that in spite of increased online shopping and
fatigued baby boomers that should create a post-mall era, the mall is not going
anywhere any time soon and it remains a destination of choice for many, and teenagers,
in particular. Retailers, therefore, continue to invest substantial resources creating
environments they hope will attract customers and induce them to spend. The effects
of these investments are measurable at an aggregate level (i.e. sales results) or at the
individual consumer level in terms of shoppers attitudes and motivations (East, 1997).
Solomon (1994) has identified several general shopper types although it should be
noted his work focused on Western populations. They are:
. The economic shopper: a rational, goal-oriented shopper who is primarily
interested in maximizing the value of his or her money.
. The personalized shopper: a shopper who tends to form strong attachments to
store personnel.
. The ethical shopper: a shopper who likes to help out the underdog and will
support locally owned stores against big chains.
. The apathetic shopper: one who does not like to shop and sees it as a necessary
but unpleasant chore.
. The recreational shopper: a person who views shopping as a fun, social activity
a preferred way to spend leisure time.
Other researchers have adopted this view of shopping as recreation. For example, Malaysian
Dholakia (1999) concluded that social motives were particularly important since shopping mall
shopping is a spectacle in which one is both performer and spectator. . . it is seeing behavior
and being seen, meeting and being met, a way of interacting with others. According to
Chetthamrongchai and Davies (2000), shopping may even be a very enjoyable use of
time without the purchase of goods or services for recreational shoppers. Such
recreational shoppers are more likely to engage in non-planned (or impulse) shopping 333
and are more likely to continue shopping after making a purchase. Recreational
shoppers: seem to value service more, spend more time with their families and friends,
prefer a good place to shop regardless of its distance, and seem not to hunt for bargains
or a large variety of merchandise. They think they wear fashionable clothes, enjoy
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shopping, tend not to pre-plan many of their purchases and enjoy eating out, often
performing more activities and spending more time shopping than non-recreational
shoppers (Boedeker, 1995).
Arguably, the most common site for recreational consumption is the large, enclosed
shopping malls. Shopping malls represent a unique form of shopping environment.
Malls have become a social place in which people converge to engage not only in
buying activities, but also in social activities, such as going to a movie, having food or a
meal out, getting together with friends or family, hair styling, etc.
A consumers shopping orientation may offer insights into how and why he/she
shops and, more specifically, why he/she visits a particular type of retail venue,
including malls (Reid and Brown, 1996). Knowledge of the benefits, consumers seek
when visiting shopping malls, can help mall management and retail marketers to
develop shopping environments that better meet the needs of targeted consumers,
thereby increasing their satisfaction, repeat visits, and positive word of mouth.
Given that the preponderance of theories and accepted truths about shopping
behaviors are based on study and observation of mostly Western populations, an
interesting question is whether these theories and descriptions hold for non-Western
shoppers. Hence, a principal motivation for the present study is to determine, at least
preliminarily, whether non-Western shoppers (i.e. Malaysians) exhibit similar (or
dissimilar) shopping mall behaviors when contrasted with reported findings on
commonly observed Western shoppers.

Prior research on shopping malls


The shopping mall has been recognized as one of the top 50 innovations that
revolutionized the lives of American consumers. seventy-five per cent of Americans
visit a shopping mall at least once a month, spending more time in shopping malls than
anywhere else outside of home and work (Kowinski, 1985). Shopping malls have
become a part of American society, exerting significant influence on individual and
collective consumer behavior. Now, however, decades after their arrival on the retail
scene, malls have become a mature industry in the USA. Competition for shoppers has
become intense. The advent of superstores and category killers, interactive shopping,
and warehouse clubs are examples of the expanded set of alternatives shoppers have at
their disposal Kaufman (1996). Retailers in the USA are not opening stores to serve new
markets anymore; they are opening stores to try to steal someone elses customers
(Underhill, 1999). Moreover, the competition for retail customers is intensified by
increasingly popular non-store alternatives including direct mail/mail-order, television
shopping, direct selling in the home, online shopping, and others (Solomon, 1994).
APJML As a result, mall management (and mall-based retailers) must now offer something
extra to lure shoppers, whether that something is a unique experience, entertainment,
19,4 excitement, a social gathering place, or just plain bargains. According to Underhill
(1999), almost all unplanned (impulse) buying is a result of touching, hearing, smelling,
or tasting something on the premises of a shopping venue, including a mall, which is
why merchandising can be more powerful than marketing, and why the Internet,
catalogs and home shopping on television will compliment but never replace real live
334 shopping malls.
Traditionally, developers attracted consumers to malls through the promise of a
wide assortment of stores and merchandise available in a single location. Maturation of
the mall industry has lead to a tendency for many malls to closely resemble one
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another, with many offering comparable products at comparable prices. Due to the
increased crowding in the mall market space, many malls have lost their individual
profile (Boedeker, 1995). At the same time, consumer markets have become more
sharply segmented than ever before, requiring retail marketers to appeal to discrete
target groups. To gain the loyalty of shoppers, malls must appeal to consumers social
motives and experiential needs, not simply provide access to desired goods.
In response to changing consumer needs, malls have grown larger and their one-
stop convenience has expanded to include service outlets and entertainment providers.
Shopping malls today offer fast-food courts, restaurants, video arcades, movie theaters,
beauty salons, dental offices, and more. Malls have also become important meeting
places, especially for young people and seniors. Mall managers have leveraged this
trend by instituting expos, art exhibits, health screening, auto shows, and live music.
Malls are now becoming giant entertainment centers, almost to the point where their
traditional retail occupants seem secondary. Underhill (1999) observed that when you
enter a shopping mall today, you are never sure if you are in a store or a theme park.
The importance of creating a positive, vibrant, and interesting image has led
innovative marketers to blur the line between shopping and theater. Both shopping
malls and individual stores must create stimulating environments that simultaneously
allow people to shop and be entertained.

Shopping malls across Malaysia


The rapid expansion of the Malaysian economy over the last ten years (despite the
economic crisis in 1997/1998), combined with external economic and social influences
have led to a retail boom in the country. As a result, retail space has been increasing by
more than 20 per cent annually in recent years (Othman and Lim, 1997). Contemporary
shopping malls act as growth poles by stimulating further retail and non-retail
commercial activities. Recent surveys of retail performance in the Klang Valley and
Malaysian retail chain stores indicate that overall business has improved since the
Asian economic crisis in 1997/1998. Surveys of chain stores in November, 1999, showed
a general increase in turnover above 10 per cent for most fashion, grocery, and
convenience categories in the Klang Valley (New Straits Times, 9 September 2000).
In Malaysia, shopping malls have transcended their initial role as an economic
activity to become a community center for social and recreational activity. There is an
increasing trend of Malaysians shopping for pleasure and spending their leisure time
in shopping malls. Research conducted by Frank Small and Associates found that
Malaysian adults (above 18 years old) spent 48 per cent of their leisure time in shopping
centers. Window-shopping is one of the seven leisure activities most often engaged in
by young, urban Malaysian adults, and in particular, students. This age cohort group,
consisting of 18 through 44 year olds, the largest in Malaysia, is roughly 49 per cent of Malaysian
the population and an obvious target market for retail marketers (Lee, 1995).
Developers across Malaysia have realized the importance of students as key targets
shopping mall
for shopping malls. A resulting contemporary trend is for shopping malls to be built behavior
close to institutions of higher learning. For example, Mines Shopping Mall is located
close to the University Putra Malaysia and University Tenaga Nasional, Mid Valley
Mega Mall is built close to the University Malaya, One Utama Mall is constructed in
close vicinity to the College Damansara Utama and College Bandar Utama, Bangsar 335
Shopping Complex is built close to the HELP Educational Institutes. Clearly,
proximity to students has played a key role in the location of shopping malls in
Malaysia.
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Conceptual development
Bloch et al. (1994) have identified seven dimensions of shopping malls that collectively
explain consumers motives for visiting malls. These dimensions are: aesthetics,
escape, flow, exploration, role enactment, social and convenience, and are briefly
discussed below.

Aesthetic dimension
The mall itself offers experiences that are consumable beyond the products and
services available for sale within the mall. From their inception, enclosed malls have
offered patrons the advantage of climatic comfort and freedom from the noise and
traffic that categorizes other shopping venues since a noisy environment creates a
different image than is characterized by silence or soft background music. Mall
planners are devoting increasing resources to environmental and architectural aspects
of the mall. According to Lui (1997), modern mall interiors have evolved from
comfortable to architecturally rich, with lavish materials and sophisticated design
elements. Interior design actually continues the malls image-fostering process (Loudon
and Bitta, 1993). Design features (e.g. high ceilings, flooring/carpeting, architecture,
interior landscaping, store layout), as well as physical facilities (elevators, air-
conditioning, and washrooms) all impact assessments by consumers. Architectural
elements are being used by developers to increase the drama of mall interiors and to
satisfy consumer-seeking sensory stimulation.
One recent study showed that architectural design had the strongest positive
influence on mall excitement, while interior decor had the strongest positive effect on
desire to stay (Wakefield and Baker, 1998). This same study also revealed that music
and layout were positively related to mall excitement and desire to stay. Hence, the mall
and store environment is not only about manipulating architectural design and interior
layout but also includes the use of space and the choice of surroundings, colors,
aromas, and sound. Consumers broadly evaluate malls in terms of their intangibles,
including music, colors, scents, and lighting, or atmospherics.
Research on atmospherics indicates: that light colors impart a feeling of
spaciousness and serenity and signs in bright colors create excitement (Solomon, 1994).
Additionally, some malls have successfully used restful music and warm color schemes
to encourage people to linger (Peter and Olson, 1994). More generally, shopping malls
are trying to become more conducive to sensual (aesthetic) shopping by offering
on-premises features such as bakeries, which fill the air with warm, homey scents
(Underhill, 1999). Atmospheric features are an extension of product display and are
chosen to modify buyers knowledge and mood, thereby affecting behavior, and to
APJML enhance the mall or store image to differentiate it from that of other malls and leads to
19,4 the following research proposition of similarity between Malaysian and Western
consumers:
P1. The greater a Malaysian consumers preference for aesthetic stimulation, the
greater that consumers motivation to go to a shopping mall.

336 Escape dimension


Sensory stimulation resulting from mall atmospherics also attracts shoppers by
offering a relief from boredom or loneliness. Malls may offer access to new information
or experiences as a break from the consumers, for example. Many malls currently offer
high levels of sensory stimulation (Underhill, 1999, 2005). A shopping trip can offer a
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consumer the opportunity for diversion from everyday life and, as such, represents a
form of recreation. Visiting a mall can provide free or low cost family entertainment
that is available without the necessity of formal dress or preplanning. The common
term browsing and the phenomenon of masses of people strolling through a shopping
mall reinforce the belief that shopping is a popular pastime. This leads to our second
research proposition:
P2. The greater a Malaysian consumers desire for escape activity, the greater that
consumers motivation to go to a shopping mall.

Flow dimension
Flow has been described as a pleasurable state of absorption that is associated with
losing track of time (Bloch et al., 1994; Lui, 1997). In some cases, malls resemble Las
Vegas casinos where consumers become isolated from cues relating to time and
weather. Flow has been described as a rare and desirable state. Thus, one may
speculate that the achievement of flow while in a mall may encourage continuation
among consumers enthusiastic about shopping in mall. Moreover, unlike many
recreational outlets, shopping malls are hospitable to people who are alone. While there
are stigmas attached to attending movies or dining out alone, visiting a mall alone is
common and free of negative associations. Mall patrons become relatively isolated
from cues relating to time and weather. If the environment or consumption activity is
sufficiently pleasant, the hours may glide by. Thus, we have:
P3. The greater a Malaysian consumers preference for flow, the greater that
consumers motivation to go to a shopping mall.

Exploration dimension
Exploration, or learning about new trends, also attracts consumers to malls (Tauber,
1972). Wakefield and Baker (1998) discovered that gathering information by exploring
new products or stores was a perceived benefit of the mall experience. They suggested
that exploration taps consumers desire for variety. For example, many people are
interested in learning about new trends in fashion, styles, or technology. While such
learning may take place with or without a purchase, certain shoppers for any product
category are more prone to buying new items. Stores that are first to carry new
products may appeal to these innovators. Having a variety of stores or mix of tenants
that work well together to meet the needs of many types of customers, including those
valuing exploration, will enhance the performance of the entire shopping mall
(Kaufman, 1996). Management must determine the combination of tenants that is
optimal for the targeted customer base, actively recruit them, and manage them as a Malaysian
cohesive unit. Thus, we have a fourth proposition:
shopping mall
P4. The greater a Malaysian consumers desire for exploration, the greater that behavior
consumers motivation to go to a shopping mall.

Role enactment dimension


Many activities are learned behaviors, traditionally expected or accepted as part of a 337
certain position or role in society such as a mother, housewife, husband, or student. A
person internalizes these behaviors as required and is motivated to participate in the
expected activities. For example, grocery shopping is a customary activity of the
housewife in Malaysian setting. Soloman (1994) has argued that some consumers relish
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the buyers role in the process of haggling and bargaining, viewing it almost as a sport.
Additionally, recreational shoppers were found to visit malls more frequently than
those who shop strictly for utilitarian purposes (i.e. fulfilling responsibilities as wife,
mother, or father) (Wakefield and Baker, 1998). Thus, for many shoppers, going to a
mall allows them to fulfill (i.e. enact) a role that is significant to their personal identity.
Hence, we have:
P5. The greater the Malaysian consumers drive to enact a role, the greater that
consumers motivation to shop in a mall.

Social dimensions
Shopping can provide the opportunity for a social experience outside the home (e.g.
seeking new acquaintances or meeting those of the opposite sex). Shopping trips often
result in planned (or unplanned) encounters with friends. Thus, social variables
offering the benefit of affiliation with others also make malls attractive leisure sites.
Tauber (1972) and others (e.g. Wakefield and Baker, 1998) have suggested that an
important pleasing aspect of shopping includes the opportunity for social interaction
with friends, family, or even strangers that one encounters in a shopping location.
Moreover, consumers generally desire to trade where store personnel, particularly
salespeople, are perceived as helpful, friendly, and courteous (Loudon and Bitta 1993).
People will shop where they feel wanted and will even pay a little more for the privilege
(Underhill, 1999).
From a sociological perspective, malls have become community centers, offering
visitors common recreational attractions, e.g. music, movies, games, and dining out. A
mall visitor can meet with friends and then see a popular movie at the mall multiplex.
More commonly, malls act as gathering sites allowing people to meet and recreate with
friends, an activity particularly common among teens. The low cost of entry also
makes malls economical entertainment venues for families. This leads to our sixth
proposition:
P6. The greater a Malaysian consumers desire for social interaction, the greater
that consumers motivation to go to a shopping mall.

Convenience dimension
According to Kaufman (1996), many shoppers select shopping areas based on hours of
operation and travel time. Retail location theory also posits that consumers prefer to
shop as close to home as possible. Because many consumers spend relatively little time
at home, a definition of convenience that uses the home as the focal point may
be misleading. The existence of modern transportation and the availability of
APJML discretionary time serve to expose people to many shopping clusters while in transit to
19,4 their job, or social and recreational activities. Loudon and Bitta (1993) found that
consumers were very convenience-oriented, they disliked spending a lot of time finding
a parking space and trekking from one end of a mall to another. Convenience is also
important to anti-shoppers consumers who make fewer mall visits and fewer
purchases (Loudon and Bitta, 1993). Anti-shoppers perceive shopping as stressful and,
338 therefore, a task that is to be completed quickly. Anti-shoppers will prefer malls or
stores where they can get in and out quickly. Convenience of location and product
assortments offered will be key criteria for these consumers. Convenience is a key
selling point for shopping malls. According to Kaufman (1996), as shoppers sought
better ways to meet their needs retailers were advised to broaden their business
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definitions. Shopping malls moved toward more expansive assortments typical of


hyper stores, facilitating shopping that could be completed in one-stop. Shoppers will
tend to favor centers that enable the completion of all essential shopping and related
tasks at one concentrated location (Kaufman, 1996). Mall management should aim to
satisfy these consumer preferences by ensuring the right mix of tenants and making
sure each fulfills its part of the bargain. This leads to our final research proposition:
P7. The greater a Malaysian consumers desire for shopping convenience, the
greater that consumers motivation to go to a shopping mall.
These research propositions predict positive linkages between all shopping mall
dimensions and the motivation of Malaysian consumers to shop in malls, precisely as
has been observed for Western consumers . These linkages are presented graphically
in Figure 1.

Methods
A survey approach was chosen in order to gain information directly from young adults
enrolled in Malaysian universities located in the Klang Valley of Malaysia. A survey
methodology permits the use of questions to measure constructs exclusively internal
to respondents, e.g. attitudes, opinions, intentions, etc., (Cooper and Schindler, 1998),
and the answers can be collected and combined to represent the answers of an entire
population (Reaves, 1992).

Figure 1.
The Klang Valley was selected because it has the highest concentration of institutions Malaysian
of higher learning in Malaysia. Four public universities and two private colleges were shopping mall
selected for inclusion in the survey. They were University Putra Malaysia, University
Kebangsaan Malaysia, University Malaya, University Technology MARA, College
behavior
Bandar Utama and Sunway College. These institutions were selected for two main
reasons. First, the location of these universities and colleges are in close proximity to
shopping malls. College Bandar Utama is close to One-Utama, University Malaya is 339
close to Mid-Valley Mega Mall, Sunway College is close to Sunway Pyramid Mall and
University Putra Malaysia is close to Mines Shopping Mall. Second, these institutions
were selected to represent the different ethnic groups prevalent in Malaysia. Public
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universities across Malaysia are dominated by ethnic Malays, whereas, private colleges
are dominated by ethnic Chinese.

Measures
The survey instrument was a five-page self-administered questionnaire. Section I
of the questionnaire captured demographic data from respondents (e.g. age,
gender, education, etc.). Section II of the questionnaire measured the shopping
habits of respondents. These items addressed shopping frequency and average
time spent during a mall visit, as well as other shopping-related constructs. Both
sections, I and II variables used closed-ended multiple-choice format. Section III
contained measures of respondents shopping activities in a mall. The items in
this section (14, in all) were taken from Lui (1997). These questions were
intended to determine respondents engagement in and preferences for specific
activities when in a shopping mall, e.g. browsing/making an unplanned purchase,
movie watching, dining, socializing, etc. Respondents were asked to demonstrate
their preference for the activity (activities) that they just pursued in the
shopping mall. Section IV sought to measure the various dimensions of shopping
orientations described in our conceptual model. Twenty-seven items representing
the seven predictors of consumers motivations discussed above were used. Each
item utilized a five-point Likert-type scale, ranging from 1 strongly disagree to
5 strongly agree. Multiple item measures were used for all dimensions, ranging
from two to seven items per dimension. The items covered a variety of possible
shopping motivations and benefits the respondents might seek during their mall
visits, as adapted from Bloch et al. (1994) and Tauber (1972). The reliability
coefficient for the items on shopping orientation was 0.8377, highly acceptable for
a reliability test.
The completed instrument was pre-tested by 20 respondents in University Putra
Malaysia. Based on the feedback obtained from these respondents, the questionnaire
was subsequently refined and then developed in an English version.

Sample frame
Non-probability sampling by convenience was used. Thirty students, selected at
random, were interviewed at each of the five University/College locations. To provide
an adequate level of confidence in this study, a sample size of 150 respondents was
targeted.
APJML Data analysis
19,4 The data were examined using frequency analysis. Frequency analysis was used to
achieve the first two objectives of the study: (a) determining the shopping habits of the
students and (b) determining the activities that students engage in while inside a mall.
A mean score of 4.00 was used as a cut off for the consumer-orientation items. Items
achieving ratings of 4.00 or greater were deemed important and chosen to be cross-
340 tabulated with demographic variables. Shopping orientation items representing the
seven shopping orientation categories (i.e. aesthetics, escape, flow, exploration, role
enactment, social and convenience) chosen by most respondents as the principal reason
why they patronize a shopping mall were also cross-tabulated with demographic
variables.
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The cross-tabulation analyses were used to assess the relationships (if any) between
demographic factors and the activities consumers engaged in while inside a mall, and
their shopping orientations. Some demographic variables were also cross-tabulated
with items relating to consumer activity items achieving a mean score of 4.00 or above.
A significance level of p  0.05 was used to determine the existence of a relationship
between the variables that were cross-tabulated. Results with p  0.05 were presumed
to reflect variables that were significantly related to one another.

Findings
A total of 132 usable responses were obtained from the survey fieldwork. Based on the
data collected, a demographic profile of the respondents was constructed, shown in
Table I.
The sample included 58.3 per cent female and 41.7 per cent male respondents. With
respect to age, the largest group of respondents fell in the 22-25 years age group,
accounting for 35.6 per cent of respondents. This was followed by the 26-30 years age
group (23.5 per cent), the 31 to 35 years age group (19.7 per cent), the above 36 years old
and above (12.1 per cent) and the 18-21 years age group (9.1 per cent). Malay
respondents accounted for 51.5 per cent of respondents, Chinese 33.3 per cent, and
Indian 12.9 per cent. In terms of marital status, the largest group fell into the single
category, 58.3 per cent of respondents. This was followed by married respondents, 38.6
per cent. Those who were separated/divorced or widowed constituted 3 per cent of
respondents.
The education level of respondents was, on the whole, quite high. The largest group
consisted of those, who are pursuing graduate programs, 30.3 per cent, and
undergraduate programs, 45.5 per cent; 2.3 per cent are currently pursuing their PhD.
The percentage of respondents pursuing Diploma and certificate level was
comparatively low, i.e. 14.4 per cent and 7.9 per cent, respectively.
Statistics on the major source of income of the respondents showed that a large
proportion of respondents (31.8 per cent) were sponsored by their parents. Self-
sponsored and scholarship/study loan constituted 29.5 per cent and 23.5 per cent,
respectively. Another 15.2 per cent of respondents were others a combination of any
of the above answers. Regarding the amount of income, 47.8 per cent of the respondents
indicated that they had a monthly personal income of RM1,500 and more, while 15.9
per cent reported figures between RM1,000 to RM1,499. Another 19.7 per cent of the
respondents said that they earned between RM501 and RM999 in monthly personal
income. The remaining 16.7 per cent earned RM500 and below.
Frequency Percentage Malaysian
shopping mall
1. Gender behavior
Male 55 41.7
Female 77 58.3
Total 132 100
2. Age 341
18-21 12 9.1
22-25 47 35.6
26-30 31 23.5
31-35 26 19.7
36 and above 16 12.1
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Total 132 100


3. Ethnic group
Malay 68 51.5
Chinese 44 33.3
Indian 17 12.9
Others 3 2.3
Total 132 100
4. Education-currently pursuing
Certificate 10 7.6
Diploma 19 14.4
First degree 60 45.5
Master degree 40 30.3
PhD 3 2.3
Total 132 100
5. Marital status
Single 77 58.3
Married 51 38.6
Separated/divorced or widow 4 3
Total 132 100
6. Monthly personal income
RM500 and below 22 16.7
RM501 to RM999 26 19.7
RM1000 to RM1,499 21 15.9
RM1,500 to RM1,900 15 11.4
RM2,000 and above 48 36.4
Total 132 100
7. Source of income
Scholarship or study loan 31 23.5
Sponsored by parents 42 31.8
Self sponsored 39 29.5 Table I.
Others 20 15.2 Characteristics of the
Total 132 100 respondents

Shopping behaviors
Respondents shopping behaviors are shown in Table II. The study found that students
in institutions of higher learning spent, on average, about two and a half hours in the
shopping mall during their mall visits. Othman and Lim (1997) reported that
Malaysian shoppers (inclusive of students and working people) spend an average
APJML Frequency Percentage
19,4
(1) Average time spent
30 min to 1 h 9 6.8
1.5 h to 2 h 40 30.3
2.5 h to 3 h 34 25.8
3.5 h to 4 h 20 15.2
342 4 h and above 29 22.0
Total 132 100.0
(2) Number of different stores visited
1-2 malls 11 8.3
3-4 malls 35 26.5
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5-6 malls 38 28.8


7-8 malls 15 11.4
9 malls and above 33 25.0
Total 132 100.0
(3) No. of different malls visited
None 5 3.8
1-2 malls 77 58.3
3-4 malls 36 27.3
More than four malls 15 10.6
Total 132 100.0
(4) Frequency of visiting
Everyday 12 9.1
Once in a week 55 41.7
Once in two weeks 34 25.8
Once in a month 23 17.4
Others 8 6.1
Total 132 100.0
(5) Monthly expenditure spent in malls
5 per cent or less 19 14.4
6-10 per cent 40 30.3
11-15 per cent 23 17.4
Table II. 16-20 per cent 24 18.2
Shopping habits of More than 20 per cent 26 19.7
respondents Total 132 100.0

96 min and Bloch et al. (1994) found that American shoppers spent about 78 min in a
mall. This indicates that Malaysian students appear to spend significantly more time
in the mall compared to the Western subjects.
In terms of the number of different stores visited during a normal trip to the mall,
the study found that, on average, respondents visited about six stores per trip. By
comparison, American shoppers visited about five stores per trip (see Bloch et al.,
1994). This finding suggests that Malaysian students visit a comparable, albeit slightly
higher, number of stores in a typical visit compared to American consumers.
The study also examined the number of different shopping malls visited by
respondents in the previous 30 days. seventy-seven respondents (58.3 per cent) claimed
that they had visited one to two different shopping malls and 36 respondents (27.3 per
cent) reported that they had visited three to four malls in the past 30 days. 14
respondents (10.6 per cent) said they had visited more than four malls in the same
period. Thus, 37.9 per cent of respondents visited three or more different shopping Malaysian
malls in the previous 30 days.
With regards to the frequency of visiting shopping malls, Table II indicates that 41.7
shopping mall
per cent of respondents visited shopping malls at least once a week. A total of 25.8 per behavior
cent visited shopping malls once every two weeks and 23.5 per cent of respondents
visited the shopping malls once a month or less. Of note, 9.1 per cent reported they
visited a mall every day. These findings are similar to US data reported by Kowinski
(1985). Kowinski found that 75 per cent of American respondents visit shopping malls
343
at least once in a month.
Shopping malls were popular destinations for our sample. Seventy-five per cent of
the University and College students sampled visited shopping malls at least once every
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two weeks. Visiting shopping malls has become a major recreational activity among
urban Malaysian consumers.
With respect to spending patterns, 30 per cent of respondents spent 6-10 per cent of
their monthly expenditures in shopping malls and 14.4 per cent spent 5 per cent or less
(see Table II). About 17 per cent of respondents spent between 11 per cent and 15 per
cent and the remaining 37.9 per cent spent more than 15 per cent of their monthly
expenditure in malls. These findings indicate that Malaysian students spent a
significant proportion of their monthly expenditures in shopping malls.

Shopping orientations
As discussed earlier, there are a variety of reasons (or factors) why consumers visit
shopping malls (i.e. aesthetic, escape, flow, etc.). The reported importance of various
dimensions of each factor was compared across the various age groups specified
within the sample using a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Preliminary results
from our study are presented in Table III.
Overall, aesthetic and exploration dimensions received higher preference scores
compared to other dimensions. Conversely, escape and flow dimensions tended to
obtain lower preference scores compared to other dimensions. In general, respondents
did not visit shopping malls just to escape from boredom, loneliness, or stress; to avoid
bad weather; or as a diversion from their daily routine as a student. It appears study
respondents went to malls as proactive seekers of positive rewards, not to avoid or
forget negative circumstances.
The highest rated dimensions were:
. The interior design of the malls usually attracts my attentions (4.16).
. Certain stores are fun to visit because they sell products that interest me (4.01).
. Going to the mall is an enjoyable experience when I am with friends (4.01).
. Mall is a one-stop shopping (4.00).
Thus, Malaysian students were motivated to visit malls primarily by the interior
design of the mall; products that interest them; good alternatives for socializing with
friends; convenient one-stop shopping.
One of the objectives of our study was to examine differences between age cohort
groups with respect to shopping orientations. Theoretically, one would expect that
shoppers from different age groups would have different motivations for visiting
shopping mall. Five age groups were examined: 18-21, 22-25, 26-30, 31-35, 36 and
above. The one-way ANOVA tests (Table III) showed that out of the 27 shopping
orientation items, 11 varied significantly between age groups (p  0.05).
APJML 18-21 22-25 26-30 31-35 >36 Total p*
19,4
(a) Aesthetic
1. The interior design of the malls
usually attracts my attentions 4.33 4.34 3.94 4.15 3.94 4.16 0.081
2. I notice the color of the mall
interior 3.33 3.66 3.42 3.73 3.81 3.61 0.171
344 3. I notice the texture of the
mall interior 3.17 3.57 3.39 3.58 3.68 3.51 0.45
4. The environment (i.e. lighting
and decoration) in the malls
attracts my attentions 4.00 3.83 3.9 4.08 3.38 3.86 0.107
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5. I am usually in a good mood


when I am in mall 3.92 3.77 3.52 3.85 3.13 3.66 0.018

(b) Escape
6. When I am bored, the mall is
a good place to go 3.75 3.51 3.61 3.35 2.69 3.42 0.069
7. When I am alone and need
something to do, the mall is a
good place to go 3.17 3.11 3.13 3.04 2.56 3.04 0.634
8. When I am stressful, the mall
is a good place to go 3.17 3.36 3.16 2.85 2.31 3.07 0.027
9. I feel relax during my mall
visit 3.75 3.66 3.61 3.38 2.88 3.51 0.010
10. I visit the mall to avoid the
bad weather 3.42 3.06 3.19 3.08 2.31 3.04 0.035
11. I visit the mall to avoid
traffic congestion 3.67 3.40 2.94 2.85 2.38 3.08 0.003
12. I visit the mall as a diversion
from the daily routine life as a
student 3.67 3.60 3.52 3.04 2.25 3.31 0.000

(c) Flow
13. When I am in the mall, I
feel like I am in another world 3.17 2.91 2.97 2.69 2.50 2.86 0.281
14. I lose track of time, when I
am inside the mall 3.67 3.66 3.71 3.42 3.25 3.58 0.413
15. When I leave the mall, I am
sometimes surprised to find out it
is dark outside 2.92 3.28 3.77 3.5 3.19 3.39 0.064

(d) Exploration
16. Mall is a good place to find
out what is new 4.08 3.70 3.84 4.12 3.56 3.83 0.153
17. Certain stores are fun to
visit because they sell products
that interest me 3.75 4.09 4.00 4.04 3.94 4.01 0.514
18. I consider a visit to the mall
as a learning experience. 4.08 4.04 3.71 3.73 3.44 3.83 0.024
19. I enjoy handling the
merchandise and trying it on 4.00 3.98 3.32 3.27 3.06 3.58 0.000
Table III.
ANOVA scores of
shopping orientation by
age groups (Continued)
18-21 22-25 26-30 31-35 >36 Total p* Malaysian
shopping mall
(e) Role enactment behavior
20. I perceive myself as a wise
shopper by looking at price
bargain between stores in the mall 4.17 4.02 3.71 3.92 3.69 3.9 0.079
21. Grocery shopping is a
customary activity of the 345
housewife 2.92 2.62 3.68 3.11 3.19 3.06 0.001

(f) Social
22. Going to the mall is an
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enjoyable experience when I am


with friends 4.42 4.19 4.10 3.85 3.25 4.01 0.000
23. The sales person in the mall
is more responsive and friendly 3.17 2.77 3.13 3.00 2.44 2.89 0.064

(g) Convenience
24. I visit the mall because of
its convenient location to my
house or study place 3.67 3.77 3.71 3.38 3.25 3.61 0.237
25. I visit the mall because it is
easier to find a parking space at
economy rate 2.58 2.55 3.48 3.54 2.94 3.02 0.000
26. The mall store hours are
convenient 3.50 3.34 3.81 3.62 3.38 3.52 0.252
27. Mall is a one-stop shopping
place 3.92 3.98 3.90 4.19 3.94 3.99 0.632

Notes: The figures in the table are mean scores based on a scale of 1-5, in which 1 Strongly
disagree and 5 Strongly agree. The higher the mean score, the more respondents agree to the
statement; *Level of significance using one-way ANOVA test. Significance values <0.05 are
highlighted and underscored Table III.

Five of the items that varied between age groups were from the escape dimension. The
results generally indicate that respondents from the younger age groups used
shopping mall visits for escapism more than the older respondents.
Similarly, respondents in the younger age groups indicated higher preferences for
discovering and examining products, two of the items in the exploration dimension.
Visiting the mall is an enjoyable experience when I am with friends, a social dimension
item, also varied significantly. Younger age group tended to agree with this statement more
than the older age groups. This result suggests that younger respondents are more likely to
see mall visits as opportunities to socialize with their friends.

Discussion and implications


Our study found that post-secondary students in the Klang Valley of Malaysia are
frequent and long-staying visitors to shopping malls, typically visiting six stores per
2.5 h mall visit. And, more than one-third of students have visited three or more
different shopping malls during the previous 30 days. Generally, this was shopping
behavior similar to that observed of Western shoppers in prior shopping studies.
Shopping malls are major spending destinations for Malaysian students. 56 per cent
of respondents spent more than 10 per cent of their monthly expenditures in malls, and
APJML more than 37 per cent spent over 15 per cent of monthly expenditures in malls. Malls
are clearly strong draws for young adult Malaysians and their money as they are in
19,4 Western countries.
In terms of shopping mall dimensions, the results showed that aesthetic and
exploration dimensions were the strongest motivators explaining why students patronize
malls. Students rated the interior design of the mall as the most important motivation for
visiting a shopping mall. Students enjoyed the mall environment, exploring new things,
346 socializing with friends, and the variety of products and services offered. Much of this
echoes Underhills assessments (1999, 2005) of Western shoppers affiliation with malls.
The study also found that different age groups tended to prefer different mall
dimensions. Generally, younger respondents were more enthused about explorational
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elements of malls than older respondents. These data seem to add credence
to Underhills (2005) assessment that teenagers (i.e. younger consumers) are the
population most enamored with malls.

Marketing implications
With the growing number of modern shopping malls in the Klang Valley and the Asia-
Pacific region overall, it is obvious that competition in this industry is intense. Mall
management must be cognizant of the needs and wants of the targeted consumers to
build and maintain share. The results of our study have several implications that
should be of benefit to the retailing industry, and mall management, specifically.
Shopping malls have become social and recreational centers where people go for
multiple purposes: shopping, recreational pursuits, entertainment, meeting friends,
simply browsing around, and so on. Therefore, developers of malls must adapt to the fact
that malls have evolved into something more than simply a place for buying products.
Shopping malls, that could offer exciting stores with enticing product assortments,
multitudinous entertainment and experiential opportunities, combined with modern
and attractive designs and facilities will be necessary to attract more people.
Aesthetic factors were highly valued by Malaysian students. Statements related to
interior design of the malls, music, decorations, and lighting were found to have high
preference scores. As such, mall management should make sure that their mall
atmospherics offer a mall environment that is pleasing to multiple senses, to ensure it is
conducive for shoppers to stay and spend more of their time and money. Managing
atmospherics is a strategic task, affecting success in positioning and differentiation.
Exploration, social and convenience dimensions were also preferred by Malaysian
students. The students favored a wide assortment of products, one-stop shopping, and an
enjoyable place to socialize with friends. Mall management of the tenant and service mix
should be used as a strategic tool in attracting shoppers to contemporary Malaysian malls.
When comparing the differences of shopping orientations by age groups, a number
of differences were found. Younger Malaysian adults appeared to be more favorably
disposed towards malls than slightly older adults. Mall management must concurrently
execute strategies to maintain their attraction to younger consumers, perhaps by
including stores that are futuristic and offer the most advanced styles or technologies,
and appeal to somewhat older adults by offering the tenant, entertainment, and
experience mix they will prefer, as well.

Future research
The sampling frame for this research was limited to students in the Klang Valley
regions in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Serdang, Bandar Utama, Damansara, and Bangi.
Study findings, although interesting, are clearly not generalizable to all populations of Malaysian
non-Western consumers or even all Malaysian consumers. Convenience sampling
methods were used in this research due to time and resource constraints. These non-
shopping mall
probabilistic sampling methods may have led to biases in selection of respondents, behavior
however. It is recommended that future research utilize random sampling methods to
ensure the generalizability of results.
Future research should also consider a broader demographic profile (not just
students) representing multiple geographical locations in Malaysia such as the 347
Northern and Southern regions as well as other countries in the Asia-pacific region
given that consumers shopping-related perceptions and expectations are likely to
differ across countries or cultures throughout the world. Future research covering
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wider perspectives is desirable to enable comparisons, benchmarking and setting


standards. With many mall developers and mall managers now operating as MNCs
(multi-national corporations), this international perspective is particularly important.

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348
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About the authors


Zafar U. Ahmed is a Tenured Full Professor of Marketing and International Business at the
Texas A&M University at Commerce. Zafar U. Ahmed is the corresponding author and can be
contacted at: Zafar_Ahmed@tamu-commerce.edu
Morry Ghingold is Associate Professor of Marketing in the College of Business at
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.
Zainurin Dahari is a Lecturer of Marketing at the International Islamic University, Malaysia.

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