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Project No. SO1-AC21 Charting Consumption Constellations: An Online Measurement, Analysis and Feedback System for the Assessment of Cross-Category Consumer Preferences Across the Lifespan Principle Investigators: Michael R. Solomon, Auburn
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Project No. SO1-AC21 Charting Consumption Constellations: 【服装学习网fuzhuangxuexi.cn]
An Online Measurement, Analysis and Feedback System for the Assessment of Cross-Category Consumer Preferences
Across the Lifespan
 
Principle Investigators: Michael R. Solomon, Auburn University Basil G. Englis, Berry  College
Contributing Graduate Students: Gokcen Coskuner, Caroline Munoz, Natalie  Wood,  Christy Wright
 
http://fafnir.berry.edu/ConsumersOnLine/
 

Goal Statement

 
Our first objective is to explore the theoretical and strategic ramifications of consumption constellation theory, which stresses the symbolic ability of products from a range of categories (including both apparel and home furnishings products) to jointly allow consumers to express    desired lifestyles. A second objective is to develop a web-based methodology to identify and 【内容来自fuzhuangxuexi.cn】
track cross-category product preferences.   The goal here is to develop highly automated    data
collection, analysis, and presentation tools to provide more timely and cost-effective feedback concerning cross-category customer preferences to the textile and apparel industry. This methodology will also enable us to empirically explore the conceptual validity of consumption constellation theory and to identify the nature of these cross-category dynamics as they shift across the lifespan.
 

Abstract

 
While most industry research is product-specific, consumers integrate information about many different items (slacks, tops, shoes, or rugs, couches, wallpaper) when choosing design options. Linkages are likely to be particularly robust between apparel and home furnishings products since both types of choices are intimately related to self-concept and personality.
Although little is known about how preferences for home textile products are shaped by changes   in life stages, clearly the potential exists to segment buyers along these dimensions.   Our goal is     to develop the intelligent agent architecture for an online format to model contingencies among preferences in different product domains and to relate these to behavior (consumption patterns)

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and characteristics (demographic and psychographic) of the respondents. A particular focus is on life stages (e.g., young adult, empty nest) and an examination of the fluidity and dynamism of apparel/home textiles choices within different stages.   Experiments will examine how consumers   use visual product information presented online to guide product choices of both apparel and
home furnishings.
 

Current Project Status Development and Validation of Study  Materials

We have identified sets of visual exemplars of contemporary styles in apparel and home furnishings.   Industry practitioners verified the images for face validity.   They reported    these

images successfully capture the stylistic categories relevant to contemporary shoppers.  Examples   of these style exemplars are provided in Exhibits 1 and    2. 【摘自fuzhuangxuexi.cn】
 
In addition to the style exemplars, we have assembled sets of specific product images corresponding to six discreet product categories within each of the two broader domains – apparel and interior furnishings.   This archive will allow us to probe for specific stylistic preferences in     both apparel and home furnishings after respondents have selected their preferred aesthetic   domains in order to provide detailed feedback to the industry regarding these selections. A comprehensive literature review of life stage measures has also been completed.   As a result of    this literature review questionnaire items have been developed that will permit classification of respondents according to lifestage. The online research application has been programmed and is being pilot tested. The final survey will be launched in November 2002 on a national sample of women representing three distinct life   stages.
【内容来自fuzhuangxuexi.cn】

 
   
 
 
Exhibit 1. An Apparel Style Exemplar:    Bohemian

 
   
 
Exhibit 2. A Home Furnishings Style Exemplar: Rustic    Lodge
 

Graduate  Student Training

 
•Four students are working on research projects directly related to conceptual and methodological aspects of this project.   Two of these projects are dissertations in   progress.
 
•One doctoral student received the 2002 American Academy of Advertising Dissertation Award for this  work.
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Industry  Outreach 2001-Present

 
–Decision Insight, Kansas City, MO. This firm specializes in visually oriented consumer research and was interested in learning more about the online consumer research capabilities developed by the PIs.

–E.I. DuPont de Nemours (Apparel and Textile Sciences Division), Wilmington, DE. DuPont wished to learn more about the use of visual methods and rapid-response capabilities developed by the PIs to assist in developing a “market-back” orientation, where consumer feedback is proactively  used in determining new fabric technology    solutions.
 
–Teen Research Unlimited, Chicago, IL. TRU is a leading producer of syndicated research concerning “youth” markets. This presentation emphasized the usefulness of online data  collection and report presentation technologies as well as the strategic advantages of age segmentation for apparel and other expressive   products. [服装学习网fuzhuangxuexi.cn】
 
-University of North Carolina-Greensboro.  UNC-G hosted an industry symposium focused  upon our online research activities.  At this  seminar we presented our work in progress to a group  of furniture  industry executives.
 
-Unifi, Greensboro. We presented our work in progress to a group of Unifi executives who were interested in applying our   methodology.
 
-NFO World Group. NFO is the third largest marketing research company in the world. It maintains one of the largest consumer panels that is widely used by many firms. The company invited us to present our work to the President of the Business, Product & Technology Development  group  and his colleagues.
 

NTC Research at Work:   Industry  Applications

 
The core methodologies developed in concert with this research program have been directly applied in several industry settings.   These are three   examples: [服装学习网fuzhuangxuexi.cn】
.
•Wrangler: Style -testing of jeans and khaki styles for boys wear market fielded on a national online sample of 10-12 year old boys and their mothers. A screen shot from this study is shown in Exhibit  3.
 

 
   
Exhibit 3. Style -testing for  Wrangler

 

 
   
•Lion Apparel: Style-testing of potential uniform styles for Wells Fargo Security fielded on a sample of Wells Fargo employees. A screen shot from this study is shown in Exhibit 4.
Exhibit 4: Style-testing for Wells   Fargo
[本文来自服装学习网fuzhuangxuexi.cn]

 
• DuPont Apparel & Textile Sciences:  Instrumentation of a visually-oriented research  tool to bring insights concerning the meaning and value to consumers of new attributes (e.g., freshness, wellness) and functionalities to assist DuPont in prioritizing the development of fabric delivery systems.   A screen shot from this study is shown in Exhibit    5.

 
   
 
 
Exhibit 5: Visual Metaphors for Freshness    (DuPont)

 
 
 

Project Related Publications and Conference Presentations 2001 - present

 
Englis, Basil G., Paula  D.  Harveston,  Michael  R.  Solomon  (2002),  “Exploiting  Linkages  Across the Value Chain:   The Potential of Using an Online Measurement, Analysis and Feedback System    to Leverage Capabilities,” Proceedings of the 2002 Western Decision Sciences Conference, 681- 683. [本文来自服装学习网fuzhuangxuexi.cn]
Englis, Basil G., Paula D. Harveston, Michael R. Solomon (2002), “Knowledge Management and the Value Chain: Leveraging Online Capabilities,” Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference  on  Electronic  Commerce  Research (ICECR-5), in press.
Englis, Basil G., Michael R. Solomon, and George Coulston, “From Molecule Forward to Market Back: The DuPont Textile Research Odyssey,” presented at the Web-Based Surveys and Usability Testing Conference. Sponsored by the Institute for International Research and The Interactive Marketing  Research  Organization,  San Francisco (2002).
Langenderfer, Jeff, Basil G. Englis, and Michael R. Solomon (2002), “Copyright  and  Trademark Issues in Online Market Research, Proceedings of the 2002 Western Decision Sciences Conference, 78-80.   [Recipient of the  Paper Award in the Business Law and Ethics  Track.]
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Lowery, Tina M., Basil G. Englis, Sharon Shavitt and Michael R. Solomon (2001), "Response Latency Verification of Consumption Constellations: Implications for Advertising Strategy," Journal of Advertising 30, 1,   29-39.
Englis, Basil G., Michael R. Solomon, and Paula D. Harveston (2002), “Web-Based, Visually   Oriented Consumer Research Tools,” in Online Consumer Psychology: Understanding How to Interact with Consumers in the Virtual World, ed. Curt Haugtvedt, Karen Machleit, and Richard Yalch, Hillsdale, NJ:   Lawrence Erlbaum, in  press.
Natalie T. Quilty, Michael R. Solomon, And Basil G. Englis (2002), " Icons And Avatars: Cyber-Models And Hyper-Mediated Visual Persuasion, In Eds. Linda Scott And Rajeev Batra, Advertising  And  Visual  Persuasion, Lawrence Erlbaum, in press.
Lego, Caroline and Michael R. Solomon, "The Effect of Reference Groups on Product Attitudes and Perceptions," paper presented at the International Textile and Apparel Association, Kansas City,  November 2001.
[本文来自服装学习网fuzhuangxuexi.cn]

Quilty, Natalie, Michael R. Solomon, and Basil G. Englis (2001), “Icons and Avatars: Cyber- Models and Hyper-Mediated Visual Persuasion,” paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Advertising, Salt  Lake City,   UT.
Solomon, Michael R. and Basil G. Englis (2001), “Life/Style Online: A Web-Based Consumer Research Methodology,” paper presented at the 2001 World Marketing Congress, Cardiff, Wales.
Solomon, Michael R. and Basil G. Englis (2001), “Life/Style Online: A Web-Based Methodology for Visually Oriented Research,” paper presented at the 2001 COSIGN
(Computational  Semiotics  in Games  and New Media)  Conference,  Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Solomon, Michael R. and Basil G. Englis (2001), “Life/Style Online: Web Surveying Goes Visual,” paper presented at the American Marketing Association and A.C. Nielson Market Research Center 2001 EXPLOR Forum: Learning from the Data of Online Research and Electronic Commerce, Chicago, IL  (2001).

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Project Statistics

 
# graduate students involved in the research:   4
# theses completed: 1
# dissertations underway:   2
# presentations: 8
# publications: 3
# papers submitted (not yet published):   2
# contacts with industry:  8
# contacts with academic (non-NTC), including those in other disciplines in the same university:  7
 

Project  Overview

 
For many consumers, decorating the body and the home share much in common. Both  are fashion statements, and product selections are used to make important inferences about the purchaser’s lifestyle and social standing. Furthermore, in both cases it is typical to assemble an “ensemble” of products, from many categories, to create a desired look. Thus, the choice of a blouse affects the selection of a skirt, a carpet design is intimately related to the pattern in  furniture upholstery, and bed sheets are coordinated with    towels. [服装学习网fuzhuangxuexi.cn】
Prior consumer research supports our basic premise that consumers organize product information  in  memory  based  on  stylistic  interrelationships  spanning  merchandise  categories (e.g., Englis and Solomon 1996; Solomon and Englis 1997). While most industry research is product-specific, consumers integrate information about many different items (pants, tops, shoes,   or rugs, couches, wallpaper) when choosing design   options.
These similarities have important ramifications for the way apparel and home furnishings products are developed, tested, and merchandised.   One is that the lines are rapidly blurring   between the two industry domains. Some apparel designers are entering the furnishings market   with home collections: Ralph Lauren is partnering with Karastan to offer a rug collection, the "Alexander Julian HOME Colours" label appears on rugs for Couristan ("sweaters for the floor")  and on wallcoverings, borders, and coordinating fabrics for Sunworthy Wallcoverings, while The   Gap recently  rolled out home textiles including jersey bedding, towels and bath coordinates in     some of its stores.   And, some home textile/furniture marketers such as Bob Timberlake and    Laura Ashley have expanded into the apparel market. A second issue is that this overlap may be even more pronounced among younger “Gen Y” consumers, whose approach to home decorating appears to be more oriented toward self-expression – thus JC Penney is radically  changing its    home furnishings mix to focus on a youthful consumer segment it calls Starting Out (Sloan 1999). [本文来自服装学习网fuzhuangxuexi.cn]
A crucial aspect of our research program is that the selection of a specific product,    whether a skirt or a bedsheet, typically is contingent upon other product choices – and these  individual selections are jointly influenced by the consumer’s desire to construct a total “look” composed of products from many different merchandise lines. This holistic perspective on consumption choices, termed consumption constellation theory, has been developed conceptually and validated empirically in prior research by the PIs (e.g., Englis and Solomon 1996, 1997;      Lowery et al. 2001). The conceptual objective of the current project is to better understand how consumer preferences for apparel products and styles are related to preferences for home furnishings and styles of interior décor – and to explore how these interrelationships change
across the lifespan of the consumer. 【内容来自fuzhuangxuexi.cn】
The theoretical orientation being explored in this project deals with the social psychological impact of significant developmental stages that occur across the lifespan. The basic proposition is that certain life events (e.g., graduating from college, getting married, the

birth of a first child, and so on) represent significant life-stage/role transitions. The interrelationships between tastes in apparel and interior décor are expected to vary across the lifespan and as a function of where the person is in relation to a life stage transition. Since a lifestage transition is associated with consumer learning of a new “life role,” we expect to find  that the cohesiveness of preferences across diverse product domains (e.g., apparel and home furnishings) will be greatest immediately prior to and after the point of transition (e.g., marriage, birth of a first child and so on).  As the role becomes more well known and lived by the    consumer, this cohesiveness is expected to diminish  – preferences will become more  idiosyncratic.  Thus, one goal of this part of the project is to explore fundamental theoretical   issues concerning the relationship between life-stage role transition to the “cohesiveness” of  tastes between apparel and interior décor product categories.

【摘自fuzhuangxuexi.cn】


Exploration of these vital cross-category linkages requires methodological advances that permit the web-based presentation of large numbers of visual stimuli (images of clothing and     home furnishing options) to consumers, and the ability to analyze preference patterns and provide rapid-response feedback to managers to enable them to integrate this market intelligence in a    timely  manner.   A better  understanding  of  online  evaluation  of  product  options  is  doubly important as e-commerce alternatives to traditional store shopping begin to accelerate.  Following   in the footsteps of clothing sites such as fashionmall.com, startup companies such as Living.com  and Furniture.com are positioning themselves to sell home furnishings over the web (Anders     1999) – though in both domains the adaptations necessary to convert to an online visual merchandising format are not yet clear. A second objective, then, is to develop a web-based methodology to track design trends and preferences for home textile products (end uses include furniture, carpet/rugs, window treatments, linens and towels). This project extensively modifies software developed in a previous NTC project (#I97-A11) by adding automated, software-based data extraction and modeling capabilities, web-based data feedback systems, and user interface changes.  The goal of this part of the project is to develop highly automated data collection,    analysis, and presentation tools to provide more timely and cost-effective feedback concerning
[本文来自服装学习网fuzhuangxuexi.cn]

customer preferences to the industry, and to gain a better understanding of how consumers search for and evaluate products visually presented in an online    format.
 

Stylistic  Research  Must  be Visual

 
Stylistic elements, as conveyed through visual imagery, play a central role in the    evaluation of apparel and home textile products. This image-driven process highlights the need to develop a visually-oriented methodology to examine consumers' preferences -- a technique not widely used in consumer research. The PIs have developed an extensive archive of apparel  images under a former NTC research project. We are developing a comparable stock of home textile images for this project. Experiments will examine how consumers use visual product information presented online to guide product choices of both apparel and home furnishings. [服装学习网fuzhuangxuexi.cn】
Respondents will specify alternative finishes, fabrics (including patterns and colors), styling, and coordinates.   Product and style -template images will be input into a web-based data collection    tool that allows consumers to indicate their product preferences for clothing and home decorating styles by selecting among visual images presented in virtual rooms on a computer screen.  The   basic procedure asks the respondent to assemble a “shopping basket” representing those items    that captures the perceived fit between a style template in one domain (interior décor or fashion) and specific product choices in the other domain.  Prototypes of these shopping baskets, or   collages, are shown in Exhibits 6 and 7. For example, we might identify differences in apparel preferences between a woman who furnishes a room in a traditional style versus one who  decorates the same room using a modern motif. Quantitative indexes reflecting structure and evaluative content of consumer perceptions will be used to test specific research hypotheses concerning the effects of experimental variables  manipulated through variations  in   style
【内容来自fuzhuangxuexi.cn】
templates. Projective narratives will be used as qualitative measures of the cultural meanings conveyed by selected product and style   groupings.
 

The  Value  of  Lifestage Segmentation

 
Our primary focus is on female consumer age cohorts including Generation Y,  Generation X, and Baby Boomers. Cross-category preferences are not expected to be stable across the lifespan, nor are underlying motivations for self- and home-ornamentation. For example, many younger women have a high interest in fashion and at the same time are decorating their households for the first time. They often exhibit a fluid self-concept as they  make the transition to full adulthood that is heavily influenced by targeted media and other marketing communications. Women in this age range are of keen interest to textile marketers, insofar as they are forming preferences that will endure throughout adulthood.      In contrast,

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Boomers (who often possess substantial disposable income) are more likely to have a clearer self- identity – their clothing and home choices may be driven by other motivations, such as  communication of social status. We should also expect to find differences in search patterns as a function of shopping experience, product knowledge, disposable leisure time, etc. Among the demographic variables that will be used to define consumer sample characteristics will be age, income level, life stage, use of home decorators and fashion consultants, and a battery of     attitudinal and psychographic measures including fashion/decorating interest and media usage.
 

Relevance  to  NTC Mission

 
This project contributes to NTC's mandate to enhance American market competitiveness through  the  development  of  better  understanding  of  consumers’  product  choices  in  multiple textile categories using an online format.   The home furnishings sector has been slow to exploit    new research capabilities that would increase efficiency.  The average size of new houses in  the

【内容来自fuzhuangxuexi.cn】


U.S. grew by 25% since 1980, but the percentage of consumer spending on home products actually decreased during that time! This is partly due to the failure of the industry to invest in technology to accurately forecast consumer tastes and needs, and to the costly proliferation of unwanted style options that could be reduced with systematic consumer testing. Consider the example of one company: If all combinations of fabrics, skirts, pillows, etc., are considered, Century Furniture offers a shopper 1.7 billion design possibilities. The failure to specify in    advance those options really desired by consumers slows production, raises costs, and prolongs delivery time, which contributes to substantial consumer dissatisfaction with the industry   (Hagerty and Berner 1998).   We hope to improve the product development and style    testing
process by harnessing the power of the Web to study consumer decision-making across these two critically  important  product domains.
【摘自fuzhuangxuexi.cn】

 
 

References Cited

 
Anders, George,” A Web Furniture Entrepreneur Suddenly Finds Cushions  of  Cash,”  The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, July 23, 1999.
Cooper,  Claire,  “The  House  as Symbol  of the  Self,”  in H. Proshansky,  W. H. Ittelson, and
L.G.  Rivlin  (eds.),  Environmental  Psychology,   New York: Holt,  Rinehart & Winston, 435-448.

Englis, Basil  G.  and  Michael  R.  Solomon  (1996),  "Consumption  Constellations:  Implications  for Advertising   Strategies,"   Journal  of  Business  Research,  37  (November) 3: 183-192.
Englis, Basil G. and Michael R. Solomon (1997), "Where Perception Meets Reality:

[服装学习网fuzhuangxuexi.cn】


The Social Construction of Lifestyles," in eds. Lynn Kahle and Larry Chiagurus, Values, Lifestyles, and Psychographics,  Hillsdale,  NJ:  Lawrence  Erlbaum  Associates,  Inc.,  25- 44.
Hagerty, James R. and Robert Berner, Untitled, The Wall Street  Journal  Interactive Edition, November 2, 1998.

Holbrook, Morris B., Michael R. Solomon, and Stephen Bell, “A Reexamination of Self- Monitoring and Judgments of Furniture Designs,” Home Economics Research Journal, September 1990, 19, 6-16.

Lach, Jennifer, “Data Mining Digs In,” American Demographics (July 1999): 38 (7).

Laumann, E.O.  and  J.S.  House, “Living Room  Styles and  Social Attributes:  The  Patterning of Material Artifacts in a Modern Community, Sociology and  Social  Research 1970, 54, 321-342.

Lowery, Tina M., Basil G. Englis, Sharon Shavitt and  Michael R.  Solomon (2001), "Response  Latency  Verification  of  Consumption   Constellations:  Implications   for Advertising Strategy," Journal of Advertising 30, 1, 29-39. 【摘自fuzhuangxuexi.cn】
Sloane, Carole, “JCPenney Focuses on Consumers,”  Home  Textiles  Today,  June  28, 1999, 14.

Solomon,  Michael  R.  and  Basil  G.  Englis  (1997),  "Breaking  Out  of  the  Box:  Is  Lifestyle a Construct or a Construction,?" in eds. Stephen Brown and Darach Turley, Consumer Research: Postcards from the Edge, London: Routledge, 322-349.

The Wirthlin Group, “Quantitative Benchmark Survey,” October 1993.

 
 
Exhibit 6.  An Online Collage Creator for Apparel Products
 

 
   
 
Exhibit 7. An Online Collage Creator for Home Textiles Products [服装学习网fuzhuangxuexi.cn】
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