Hedonic and Utilitarian Motives for Shopping of Apparels Online INTRODUCTION TO THE APPAREL INDUSTRY

Hedonic and Utilitarian Motives for Shopping of Apparels Online


The notion of global apparel industry is a product of the modern age. Actually, this industry is globalised before the age of silk route between India and China. Prior to the mid-19th century, most clothing was custom-made. It was handmade for individuals, either as home production or on order from dressmakers and tailors. By the beginning of the 20th century—with the rise of new technologies such as the sewing machine, the rise of global capitalism and the development of the factory system of production, and the proliferation of retail outlets such as department stores—clothing had increasingly come to be mass-produced in standard sizes and sold at fixed prices.

People universally wear articles of clothing-also known as dress, garments, or attire-on the body in order to protect it against the adverse climate conditions. Articles carried rather than worn, such as purses, are usually counted as accessories, while glasses or jewellery, although worn, also fit this category.
But people wear clothing for functional as well as social reasons. Apart from the practical functions of placing a piece of garment above the skin, wearing clothes also carries specific cultural and social meanings. Moreover, clothing has been regarded as one of the best ways to distinguish social classes, sexes, occupation, marital status and ethnic or religious affiliation.
With the growth in apparel industry, what a person wears became their own style statement. The clothes worn by a particular person reflect their personality and their likes or dislikes (choices). Even before a person speaks or introduces themselves, their clothes speak for them. Thus. the importance of apparel industry has increased in the minds of people, because of the increasing influence clothes had on their social status and the way they represent themselves in front of others. Clothing is often influenced by the ideals that people follow, as they often try to match their style.
Today, there are many materials with which clothes are made. A person can choose from purchasing clothes made from natural origin materials, like silk, wool, and leather, but may also select one for the man-made fibers extensively used in clothes manufacturing, like nylon, polyester, Lycra and Gore-Tex. With the recent technological developments, there is great speculation for the direction future clothes will take; in fact, the clothing electronics industry has just started.
The apparel industry has widened in terms of scope and reach. With its increasing importance, the channels of apparel distribution have also widened. While the offline methods i.e. retail stores, company owned outlets, supermarkets etc. are still in practice, new methods of distribution have evolved. With technological advancements and increased desire for ease among the customers, new ways of distribution developed. Nowadays, online shopping is very much into trend. It is easy, convenient and provides people with a wide variety of choices. As online shopping is a growing industry with great importance in the present scenario, it made a perfect topic for our research work.

While choosing what to buy when it comes to apparels, a person faces a mental conflict between functional benefits and pleasure of the purchase. A purchaser is often confused between the utility and the hedonic benefits of buying apparel online. Some prefer it because it is easy and time saving. While some prefer it because it makes window shopping very convenient and gives them regular knowledge about the changing trends. Some are attracted by the functional importance, while some are influenced by the sense of control that online shopping provides.


To analyse these motives, we chose to do research work on ‘Hedonic And Utilitarian Motives Of Buying Apparel Online.’ For that purpose, we analysed a lot of research papers on related topics and we made a number of findings.

While investigating hedonic online shopping motivations through qualitative analysis it was found that Consumers fully enjoy having the choice to interact with someone (pleasure of bargaining and social) or not interact with anyone (privacy) on the Internet. Consumers seem to appreciate being able to learn things (learning trends). (Pui- Lai, 2014) However, this research paper only considered a small age range between 21 to 35 years.

Another article explored the utilitarian benefits which made online apparel shopping successful, namely companies constantly smarting up hardware, software and storage. Their automated warehouses helping them deliver the promise of high discounts and same-day deliveries to customers. This highlighted the potential of online apparels market to grow exponentially with better brands, deals, price category etc. (Bagchi, 2015)

One paper aimed to develop a multi- criteria-based evaluation and subsequent prioritization of online retail patronage attributes of Indian customers for improving the performance of online stores. Through AHP approach they found that, Indian customers place a very high importance on outcome quality followed by service recovery. The results of the study support the notion that Indian consumers are more utilitarian and are more apprehensive about the risks of online transaction in the context of Indian culture which is predominantly skewed towards uncertainty avoidance. (Ranit Roy Ghatak, 2016) The results of the study also offer Indian retail managers in effective utilization of scarce resources in developing online stores considering the Indian culture and context.

A study aimed to explore how factors affecting shopping attitudes on social networking sites may differ according to product type. It reveals that shopping services have different target consumers and factors according to product type i.e. Age, usefulness, ease of use, security, and fit are critical in establishing favourable attitudes toward shopping for real items While for virtual items, gender, social networking site experience, ease of use, and fit influence the attitudes. (Cha, 2009).

With rapid urbanisation and urban infrastructure struggling to keep up, Indians are shifting towards more convenient online shopping options and research shows buying clothes that was seen as “necessary-buying” has shifted to "aspiration-buying”. This shift is major for India. (Ravichandran, 2016)

A research investigated the effect of decision targets (i.e., making decisions for oneself or another person) on preferences for utilitarian and hedonic products. It was found after extensive questionnaire analysis that Consumers deciding for others were more likely to choose hedonic over utilitarian options than when consumers deciding for themselves. In particular, anticipatory guilt triggered by contemplating hedonic consumption is less for consumers who made choices for others than for those who made choices for themselves. (Jingyi Lu, 2016). However, these studies focus on general emotion experiences, thereby ignoring self–other differences regarding speci?c emotions.

While comparing Hedonic and Utilitarian Shoppers, a research concluded that hedonic shoppers falls into one of the several categories: adventure, social, gratification, idea, role and value. It is more of a sensational and experiential. A utilitarian shopper is the efficient individual shopper who knows what they want and they want to spend the least amount of aggravation or hassle in the shopping process. Although it seems that a hedonic shopper shops more and spends more, studies show that actually utilitarian online shoppers have a lower ‘shopping cart’ abandon rate and are more likely to complete the shopping process. (Suyeoka, 2011)
Objectives: –
To research and analyse a few key aspects of consumer purchase decision while buying apparels online.

Research Method: –
An online survey was conducted with Google forms. The forms were sent to 500 people and 434 people participated the survey (86.8% responded).

Observations and Analysis:
The survey included the questions (along with short forms and rating scale)-
Questions     1 2 3 4 5
How often do you shop for apparels online? Frequency FREQ Never Rarely Sometimes Often Frequently
 How often do you go through online portals just to look for new trends and products in the market? Window- shopping WINDOW Never Rarely Sometimes Often Frequently
As compared to shopping offline, is online shopping more economical? Economical ECO Strongly disagree disagree neutral agree Strongly agree
  Is utility of the product a strong factor in decision making when shopping online? Utility UTIL Strongly disagree disagree neutral agree Strongly agree
 Does shipping charges affect your purchase? Shipping charges SHIP Strongly disagree disagree neutral agree Strongly agree
Does not being able to touch or feel the products affect your decision to purchase the product online? Impersonal IMPER Strongly disagree disagree neutral agree Strongly agree
Is return/exchange/refund policy important to you? Return policy RETURN Strongly disagree disagree neutral agree Strongly agree
Is protection of your private information important? Information protection INFO Strongly disagree disagree neutral agree Strongly agree
Do you feel a sense of control and superiority through online shopping? Control/ Superiority CONT Strongly disagree disagree neutral agree Strongly agree
Do advertisements and attractive online messages influence your buying decision? Advertisements ADS Strongly disagree disagree neutral agree Strongly agree
Based on the above format, the analysis of responses is as follows:
Never 50
Rarely 116
Sometimes 170
Often 66
Frequently 32
Never 37
Rarely 71
Sometimes 135
Often 126
Frequently 65

Strongly disagree 0
disagree 0
neutral 185
agree 219
Strongly agree 30

Strongly disagree 5
disagree 30
neutral 105
agree 251
Strongly agree 43

Strongly disagree 14
disagree 65
neutral 78
agree 208
Strongly agree 69

Strongly disagree 5
disagree 45
neutral 84
agree 189
Strongly agree 111

Strongly disagree 4
disagree 6
neutral 26
agree 161
Strongly agree 237

Strongly disagree 2
Disagree 6
Neutral 19
Agree 122
Strongly agree 285

Strongly disagree 10
Disagree 104
Neutral 164
Agree 136
Strongly agree 20

Strongly disagree 28
Disagree 97
Neutral 118
Agree 156
Strongly agree 35

From the above analysis, we can see that:
The influence on consumer behaviour based on some hedonic values in case of online apparel shopping are:
Ability to “window shop” and learn new trends. Majority of the respondents said “Sometimes” and “often” implying that window shopping window shopping is a strong motivator for people to visit online shopping portals.

Ability to touch or feel the product before buying. Majority of the respondents either “agree” or “strongly agree” to this being an important factor implying that this is the reason due to which people prefer traditional markets over online stores.

Protection of private information. Majority of the respondents “strongly agree” to it being an important factor.

Control/ superiority Respondents are divided on this subject as Majority of the responses are “neutral” implying that control or superiority is not a strong motivator.

Advertisements Majority of the respondents “agree” to it being a strong motivator.

The influence on consumer behaviour based on some utilitarian values in case of online apparel shopping are:
Frequency of shopping implying ease of access Majority of the respondents do online shopping “sometimes” implying that this is not a major factor
 Cost effectiveness Majority of the respondents “agree” that shopping online is economical and hence it is a strong motivator
Utility of the product Majority of the respondents “agree” to utility of the product being important hence it is an important factor
Shipping charges Majority of the respondents “agree” to the importance of this factor. Therefore, it strong motivator.

Return/exchange/refund policy Majority respondents “strongly agree” to it being an important factor in their purchase decisions.

For consumers, protection of private information is a major factor while shopping online. They also appreciate being able to learn new trends and are influenced by advertisements. Control and superiority doesn’t seem to be motivator for consumers. Lack of ability to touch and feel the product while shopping online is a value that discourages people from shopping apparels online.
Furthermore, unlike hedonic values, Majority of utilitarian values (such as cost effectiveness, utility, shipping charges and return/refund/exchange policy) have a strong influence on consumers (as evidenced by Majority of the responses being “agree” or “strongly agree” in such cases).

Limitations: –
The scope of research was very narrow. Further researches based on this topic should interview every participant of the survey to further explore the consumer purchasing decision while buying online which would give a better conclusion which would help the companies on focus their energy on consumers preferred aspect of buying decisions.

Bagchi, S. (2015). Online Apparel Fuels India’s E-Commerce Growth.

Cha, J. (2009). Shopping on social networking websites: Attitudes towards real versus virtual items.
Jingyi Lu, Z. L. (2016). Hedonic products for you, utilitarian products for me.

Pui- Lai, E.-P. S. (2014). Hedonic Motivations For Online Shopping.
Ranit Roy Ghatak, R. S. (2016, November). Online Store Selection Attributes and Patronage Intentions: An Empirical Analysis of the Indian E- Retailing Industry.

Ravichandran, V. (2016). The future of online fashion industry.
Suyeoka, B. (2011). The Hedonic v/s Utilitarian Shopper.