Exploring Generation Y consumers' fashion brand relationships
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Although the idea that consumers form relationships with brands is widely accepted and is a topic of increasing importance in the marketing literature, a lack of understanding of the constructs informing consumer-brand relationships (CBRs) remains. A deeper knowledge of how these constructs inform the existing CBR theory is needed, especially as there are a number of additional constructs emergent in the literature. In particular, there are a dearth of quantitative studies that explore the relationships between CBR variables, and current literature calls for qualitative and quantitative research to further explore CBRs. By specifically focusing on the relationships Generation Y consumers form with fashion brands, this research provides an enhanced understanding of the constructs underpinning these relationships and their outcomes. Fashion brands warrant study as their unique characteristics lead to consumers developing CBRs that differ from those formed with other brands. As CBRs are complex and multifaceted, a mixed-methods research approach was adopted to ensure richness and depth. Divided into two critical stages, and prefaced by a comprehensive literature review to identify constructs pertinent to the study of CBRs, this study employed twenty Narrative interviews and a large-scale survey questionnaire (N=675) with Generation Y. Thematic analysis, exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling (SEM) were used to analyse the data generated, with SEM employed to test a conceptual framework of fashion brand relationships. The findings reveal twelve constructs that play a role in Generation Y's fashion brand relationships. Constructs that were significant include, fashion consciousness, self-esteem, susceptibility to interpersonal influence, brand tribalism, self-expressive brand, perceived quality/value and brand love. Findings suggest new relationships between price sensitivity and brand relationships outcomes, and identify the substantial role of (online) social networks on CBRs. A discussion of the contributions of this research to theory and practice is offered.
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