Female consumers’ familiarity with clothing brands and their trust in brand names as an indication of certain desirable properties of clothing
In recent years many established, reputable brand names have moved their production sites to Eastern countries to reduce labour costs. The country of brand origin (CBO) and the country of manufacture (COM) of popular, sought-after clothing brands may therefore differ. It is not clear whether consumers are familiar with the origin of popular brands, whether they pay attention to the COM of brands when purchasing clothing, and to what extent disclosure of incongruity between the CBO and COM influences consumers’ product perceptions. This study investigated females’ familiarity with brand names, their CBO, as well as their COM as part of an investigation of females’ use of brand names to deduce certain desirable properties of female apparel such as its functional and performance characteristics, status value, as well as eco-friendliness without necessarily evaluating the items pedantically. The survey which targeted working females was done across a major urban area in South Africa.
Data collection involved convenience sampling, and the self-completion of a structured questionnaire by 322 females. Data analysis involved descriptive statistics, factor analysis, analysis of variance (ANOVA) and post hoc tests. Findings confirmed the significance of brand names as an indicator of the functional and performance related properties of female clothing. Furthermore the relevance of brands for status related purposes was found to be secondary to females’ use of brands to infer the functional and performance attributes, or to deduce the eco-friendliness of clothing. This was true for all the age, income and education levels, and population categories.
Contrary to extant literature, this study reveals that females do not rely on brands for status purposes and that brands are mostly trusted to provide the wearer with good fit, durability, comfort and good quality. Neither do consumers seem very familiar with widely advertised clothing brands. The majority of consumers nevertheless preferred the COM and CBO of brands to match. Overall, they preferred Western countries as the COM, and were more approving of locally manufactured clothes than those manufactured in Eastern countries. Differences in the COM and CBO of garments, especially when the COM is an Eastern country, may therefore negatively influence consumers’ perception of brands unless consumers are informed and understand these practices.