Consumer Decision-Making Styles of Gen Y Consumers in Malaysia Introduction Market segmentation is a crucial element in marketing because goods can no longer be produced and sold without considering consumer needs and recognizing the characteristic of those needs. Due to the highly competitive environment nowadays, attracting and retaining enough loyal customers plays an important key role when developing business strategies.Therefore, business should understand and target consumer from different background and culture differently in order to effectively adapt their marketing strategies (Yeong & Lovett, 2010).
In general, there are many demographic variables can be used to segment consumer market, for instance income, age, gender, ethnicity, marital status and household size. Among these variables, gender has been and continues to be one of the most popular forms of market segmentation for a significant proportion of product and services.According to marketing scholars (Meyers-Levy & Sternthal, 1991; Darley & Smith, 1995) argue that gender-based segmentation, especially if it is based on biological sex per se, meets several of the requirements for successful implementation: the segments were easy to identify, easy to access, and large enough for consumer products and services to be marketed profitably. In addition, there are many studies in the past also provided considerable evidence that gender relates to consumers’ perceptions, attitudes, preferences and purchase decisions(Mitchell & Walsh, 2004; Bakewell & Mitchell, 2006).Because gender has been identified as one of the significant factor in understanding consumer behavior and as a fundamental market segmentation index for companies to satisfy their customer’ demand, therefore marketer should endeavor to understand the gender differences in decision-making styles. In addition, research addressing the issue of gender differences in decision-making styles could help marketers to find better ways of communicating with both sexes and to guide marketing mix decisions (Mitchell & Walsh, 2004).
Literature Review According to Williams, Page, Petrosky and Hernandez (2010), Generation Y also is referred to as the Millenials or Echo Boomers. They were born during 1977-1994 and are in the 15-32 age range as of 2009. They are children of the original Baby Boomers and their numbers rival that of the Baby Boomers.
They grew up in a time of immense and fast-paced change including virtually full-employment opportunities for women, dual-income households as the standard, and having computers at college and home.Moreover Gen Y consumers are more likely to complete their tasks online in just one click in making their decisions (Sengupta & Titus, 2012). Starting in 2000, when the Millennials began attending college, they began to be studied by researchers and marketers to determine the generation’s overriding characteristics. Consumer decision? making styles can be defined “as mental orientations characterizing a consumer’s approach to making choices” (Sproles & Kendall, 1986, p. 268).The aim of Sproles and Kendall (1986) was to provide a potentially useful instrument to assist marketers to better understand consumers’ decision-making styles in purchasing. As consequence, they developed the original 40? item Consumer Style Inventory (CSI) scale, which identified eight characteristics related to consumer decision? making styles. The CSI provides a quantitative instrument for classifying different consumer decision? making styles into distinct categories of shopping orientation.
Through empirical research, Sproles and Kendall (1986) defined the following eight categories of decision -making styles namely: 1) perfectionism and high-quality conscious: Consumers carefully search for the best quality in product; 2) brand conscious and price equals quality: Consumer choose to buy more expensive, well known national brands, and believing that a higher price means better quality; 3) novelty and fashion-conscious: likes new and innovative products and gains excitement from seeking out new things; 4) recreational and hedonistic: finds shopping a pleasant activity and shop just for the fun of it; 5) price conscious and value for money: consumer which has high consciousness of sale price and likely to be comparison shoppers; 6) impulsive and careless: Consumer who do not plan their shopping and appear unconcerned about how much he or she spends; 7) confused by overchoice: These consumer are experiences information overload in the market due to perceiving too many brands and stores and have difficulties making choices and 8) habitual and brand-loyal: These consumers select favorite brands and stores repeatedly overtime. Hiu, Siu, Wang and Chang (2001) revealed three prominent market segments through their study namely: 1. )Trendy, perfectionistic consumers: who frequent shopping and take it as an enjoyment. They are interested in high quality and fashionable items, read fashion magazines, watch various advertisements to gain trendy fashion information and tend to supportive with foreign brand which is high quality and fashionable styling. 2. ) Tradisional, pragmatic consumer: who do not view shopping as a enjoyment activity to them.
They are price conscious, not interested in fashion styling and most probably choosing local brands. 3. Confused by overchoice: these consumers tend not to read magazines or advertisement on fashion, avoid exposure to too much information, and only purchase local brands which they are familiar. According to Bakewell and Mitchell (2003), five meaningful and distinct decision-making groups were found in the study of decision-making styles of adult female Generation Y consumers in the UK: “recreational quality seekers”, “recreational discount seekers”, “trend setting loyals”, “shopping and fashion uninterested” and “confused time/money conserving”. In their later study on decision making styles of male consumers in the UK (Bakewell & Mitchell, 2004), all of the original eight traits plus four new traits namely; store-loyal/low-price seeking, time-energy conserving, confused time restricted and store-promiscuity were identified.
From their study it shows that the potential of the CSI for segmenting market as meaningful and different groups of male consumers with different decision making styles. Despite of previous studies which reported gender differences in decision-making styles of consumer, Mitchell and Walsh (2004) compared the decision-making styles of male and female shoppers in Germany. From the research, they managed to verify the construct validity of all eight CSI factors for female shopper and four of the factors for male shoppers.
In consequence, they also concluded that male consumers were slightly less likely to be perfectionists, somewhat less novelty and fashion conscious, and less likely to be confused when making purchases compared to female consumers.Years after that, Bakewell and Mitchell (2006) undertook a similar study in the UK by using a sample of 480 male and female undergraduate students, they found that nine decision-making style were common to both genders. Through the study they had discovered three traits for male (store-loyal/low-price seeking, confused time-restricted and store-promiscuity) and three new traits for female traits (bargain seeking, imperfectionism and store loyal). There are few studies recently which had attempted to thoroughly explore the antecedent and consequences of consumer decision-making styles. Ghodeswar (2007) found that that seven out of eight dimensions of consumer decision-making style proposed by Sproles and Kendall (1986) in his study of consumer decision-making styles among Indian students.The only style which was not confirmed in his data is “price consciousness/ value for money consumer”. Gupta, Brantley & Jackson (2010) found that consumers Generation Y at Midwestern University tend to be brands store loyal when they are buying high involvement product.
Kambiz & Fereshteh (2011) found that husband and wife have divergent decision-making styles and their family structure as a social-structural variable can be influenced by the decision-making styles of family members which is related to their purchasing behavior. Lastly, it is believed that male and female consumer in Malaysia may also have certain distinctive characteristic in decision-making during shopping and purchasing.But those characteristic could be have equal interest to both researchers and marketing practitioners. Hence, this paper will fill the gap by focusing on the differences in decision-making styles on gender in the Malaysia context.
Methodology According to the past study, most of the researchers prepared a structured questionnaire based on literature review and objectives of the study. Consumers decision-making were measured using the 40-items of Consumer Style Inventory (CSI), developed by Sproles and Kendall (1986). All scales were measured on a 5-point Likert-type scales ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The reliabilities of the CSI scale, according to Sproles and Kendall (1986), ranged from 0. 48 to 0. 76.The scales items were translated into Malay language with minor changes in wording to clarify the meaning.
In addition, some demographic questions were included in the questionnaire. And most of the questionnaire was self-administered to non-probability sample of male and female undergraduate students in Malaysia. Finding and Analysis Common Factors for both Male and Female According to the research study of Safiek and Hayatul (2009) in Malaysia, the decision-making of Malaysian young consumer for both gender have similarities namely: 1.
) Quality consciously: meaning that they prefer to buy more durable and quality product. 2. ) Brand consciously: it shows that they set high standards and have high expectations for the products they buy.Moreover they choose to buy the product which is heavily advertised and well-know national brands. 3. ) Fashion consciousness: this shows that both genders are seem to gain pleasure from seeking out new things and keep up-to date with fashionable attractive styles. 4. ) Confused by overchoice: This factor shows that they feel over-loaded with the information on various brands products and find it very hard to choose the best product during shopping.
5. ) Satisfying and value seeking: concluded that if both items were identical in both sample, they will carefully find the best value for money product to be purchased which is also satisfied their needs. Male FactorsAgain from the study of Safiek and Hayatul (2009), there are two factors found for males namely brand loyalty and time-energy conserving. For brand loyalty, male consumers score higher than female consumers on this factor because they tend to have favorite brands and will use these habitually. Next, time-energy conserving which was not found in females but it characterizes males who often save energy by making their shopping trips as fast as possible in the same stores. Moreover, males have the perception that going shopping is a waste of time and they don’t give their purchases much thought.
In overall, both of these results show the similarity with previous researchers, Bakewell and Michell (2006) in the UK. Female factorsFrom the study of Safiek and Hayatul (2009) research, it shows that there are three female factors found namely price consciousness, recreational and shopping avoidance. Female consumers scored higher than male consumers on price consciousness shows that female are more aware of the sale prices and more often choose to purchase lower price products. Next, female shoppers are more particular on recreational or pleasant shopping activity compared to male shoppers. And this factor is consistent with Mitchell and Walsh’s (2004) and Bakewell and Mitchell’s (2006) which characterization of a recreational consumer. The last factor is shopping avoidance which is very exclusive to female consumers and posed an opposite trait of recreational.
However the high scored shows that if the shopping is unpleasant, female shoppers will tend to shop as quickly by purchasing the first brands or product that seem to be good enough. Conclusion In conclusion, through the research of consumer decision making styles, it offers a great opportunity to understand the characteristic or style of consumer towards their shopping behavior. And this consumer style inventory provides a fundamental for consumer decision making styles and has practical application advantages for marketers in their marketing strategic. However this study has a limitation because it only covered a specific segment of young adult in an local university in Malaysia.For future recommendation, there is a need to study these decision making styles among the larger population across different segment in order to get better converge of Malaysia young consumers.
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