Older female consumers’ clothing quality perception: expectations and performance
The population of older consumers is growing significantly worldwide as well as in South Africa. Although they have been labelled as vulnerable consumers with less financial freedom, due to their rapid growth in numbers, they have become an important, often overlooked market segment with the likelihood of increasingly more buying power. Changes that occur with ageing lead to changes in the needs of older female consumers as well as possible changes in their evaluation of clothing quality. However, clothing manufacturers do not necessarily take these changed needs into account, which may lead to consumer dissatisfaction with what is available. Applying the expectancy disconfirmation paradigm, this study explores older women’s expectations and perceptions of clothing quality, and the attributes that they considered when rating performance. A self-administered, structured questionnaire was used to collect data from a sample comprised 202 South African female consumers over 60 years old who took part in events hosted by the Service Centre for the Aged in the Tlokwe municipal area. A gap analysis indicated significant differences between the consumers’ expectations of clothing attributes and performance. They were not satisfied with current clothing quality (negative disconfirmation), especially in terms of the attributes of price, correct sizing, and fabric, which attracted the lowest performance ratings. The study results indicate that, in terms of the expectancy disconfirmation paradigm, dissatisfaction with the quality of clothing among the older female consumers reveals a clear need for improvement. This growing market segment seeks clothing that better accommodates the changed body features and preferences that come with age.