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User BMI effects on mass market fashion brands
Department of Business Administration School of Business, Economics and Law University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0419-8654
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate how the weight of users affects the perception of mass market fashion brands.

Design/methodology/approach: This study attempts to show effects of typical - as well as ideal user imagery on fashion brands. An experiment was carried out in which 1848 university students replied to a web survey, rating the brand personality of jeans and shirts according to Aaker’s Big Five construct. The garments were worn by digitally manipulated versions of one person as thin, overweight, and obese.

Findings: The findings show that consumers’ impressions of mass market fashion brands are significantly affected by the weight of its users. The effect of male user imagery is ambiguous. For women’s fashion on the other hand, slender users are to be preferred.

Research limitations/implications: It is possible, even probable, that high fashion would suffer more from negative typical user imagery than would mass market fashion. It would therefore be interesting to replicate this experiment using clothes of higher fashion grade and price.

Practical implications: The demonstrated effects of user imagery support the industry practice of slim ideal female imagery. However, excluding customers to boost brand perception should not be an option for these brands.

Social implications: The results inform the debate over skinny models vs. “real women” in advertising as well as the debate over discrimination of overweight consumers through assortment decisions.

Originality/value: This is the first time typical user imagery effects are included in a study of this type, and it is the first study to test user imagery effects on fashion. 

Keyword [en]
Brand personality, user imagery, fashion
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-31483OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-31483DiVA: diva2:944826
Available from: 2016-06-30 Created: 2016-06-30 Last updated: 2016-06-30Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The Impact of User Weight on Brands and Business Practices in Mass Market Fashion
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Impact of User Weight on Brands and Business Practices in Mass Market Fashion
2010 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Overweight people claim to be mistreated by the fashion industry. If they were, it would be in line with branding theory supporting the idea of rejecting fat consumers to improve user imagery for fashion brands. However, fashion companies do not confess to such practices.

To shed some light on the subject, I have conducted two studies.

The first attempts to illustrate what effect, if any, user imagery has on fashion brands. It is an experiment designed to show how the weight of users affects consumers’ perceptions of mass market fashion brands. The findings show that consumers’ impressions of mass market fashion brands are significantly affected by the weight of its users. The effect of male user imagery is ambiguous. For women’s fashion on the other hand, slender users are to be preferred.

In the second study I examine what effects these effects have on assortments. I compare the sizes of mass market clothes to the body sizes of the population. No evidence of discrimination of overweight or obese consumers was found -quite the contrary.

The reasons for these unexpected findings may be explained by the requirements a brand must fulfil to make management of the customer base for user imagery purposes viable. The brand must be sensitive to user imagery; a requirement that mass market fashion fulfils. However, it must also be feasible for a company to exclude customers, and while garment sizes can be restricted to achieve this, the high volume sales strategy of mass market fashion apparently cannot.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Göteborg: Göteborgs universitet, 2010. 84 p.
Keyword
brands, brand personality, user imagery, assortments, fashion, fashion retailing
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-31482 (URN)
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-06-30 Created: 2016-06-30 Last updated: 2016-06-30Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
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  • vancouver
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Output format
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