- Although designer brand denim apparel has been popular since the early
1980’s, the term “premium denim” is a relatively new concept to the apparel industry.
This study investigated evaluative criteria used by female consumers when purchasing
premium denim jeans. Previous studies have examined evaluative criteria and its
importance in purchasing consumer items (Engel, Blackwell, &Miniard, 1993). This
study expanded the past research of clothing evaluative criteria by linking it to
prestige-seeking consumer behavior literature (Vigneron & Johnson, 1999).
Questionnaires which used a multi-measurement approach were used for data
collection. The multiple techniques included: likelihood Likert scale ratings,
importance rankings, conjoint-couplet trade-off scenarios, and open-ended questions.
The data were collected at Oregon State University in the Winter Term of 2008. A
purposive convenience sample of 90 students from the Department of Design and
Human Environment courses were surveyed. Frequency, percentage, cross-tabulation,
and descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data.
Respondents were asked to assess nine evaluative criteria including those
prestige-seeking behaviors by rating the likelihood of usage and ranking the top three
criteria used in a previous purchase. The nine criteria were: fit, price, brand name,
style, fabric, brand awareness, uniqueness, friend/peer opinion, and quality. They also
decided between shopping scenarios that presented trade-offs between price and
another criterion. Lastly, participants provided written descriptions of their last
premium denim purchase.
Results indicated that the criterion with the highest likelihood of usage in a
premium denim purchase was fit, followed by quality and style. The rankings also
revealed fit to be the most important characteristic when evaluating premium jeans.
The trade-off shopping scenarios demonstrated that fit was largely preferred in a tradeoff
with price and that a lower price was preferred over the quality of a pair of
premium jeans. Finally, the open-ended questions revealed that although most
premium denim consumers chose fit to be their most important criterion, they actually
were more likely to use secondary characteristics of the term fit in order to explain
what factors actually influenced their previous purchase. The four objectives were
fully explained by the collected data to provide better insight and knowledge into what
is important to premium denim consumers.
The multi-measurement approach was helpful in accurately analyzing the
evaluative criteria. It revealed that when an actual shopping simulation, or purchase
situation is presented, it can cause a difference in opinion when compared to the
likelihood of a future purchase.
Premium denim manufacturers, retailers and buyers can draw implications
from the study’s results to develop future premium jeans in accordance with
consumer’s preferences. Furthermore, there is opportunity to further research the topic
of premium denim as well as the opportunity to use this multi-measurement approach
in other disciplines.