UP PhD graduate makes fascinating findings about millennial men’s fashion choices

Posted on May 26, 2020

In its report on apparel retail in South Africa, market research company MarketLine suggests that for the first time in decades, the menswear segment has a larger share of the market than that of womenswear – and that the vast majority of these purchases are made by male millennials (people born between the early 1980s and 2000s).

These findings formed part of a thesis written by University of Pretoria (UP) PhD graduate Dr Lizette Diedericks, who was one of 11 000 UP graduates who were awarded their qualifications in absentia last month during a virtual ceremony necessitated by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Diedericks, who hails from Centurion, is a lecturer in the Department of Consumer and Food Sciences at UP’s Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences. She now has three degrees in consumer science, having majored in Clothing Retail Management. Apart from her doctoral degree, she has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, both of which she obtained at UP.

Using a mixed-methods approach, which included personal interviews and an online survey, Dr Diedericks sought to understand why millennial men make certain clothing store choices. She found that their relationship with clothing and fashion and the way their older counterparts related to fashion are as different as chalk and cheese.

“Fashion, appearance and clothing in general are much more important for millennial men than for older men,” Dr Diedericks says. “This is the main reason they spend more money on clothing. Also, they don’t necessarily shop more; they spend more money on clothing, as they are extremely brand conscious and have an affinity for luxury clothing brands, especially shoes.”

The rise in the popularity of online shopping can be attributed to the convenience it offers, which is why e-commerce platforms were included in the study. Surprisingly, not many of the study participants made use of online shopping platforms.

“The respondents were asked which clothing stores they patronised,” Dr Diedericks explains. “However, of the 408 respondents, only three listed online clothing retailers. There are several multi-channel retailers that were listed, such as Woolworths, which have brick-and-mortar stores and online platforms.

“In the qualitative phase it was evident that respondents prefer to shop in-store, [as] opposed to online, when purchasing clothing, even though they are frequently shopping online for several other product categories,” Dr Diedericks added.

Her findings indicate that deep-rooted personal values are the driving force behind men’s choice of clothing store. Personal value hedonism is a theory that underpins the choices that the men who participated in this study make. This theory suggests that people seek to maximise pleasure and minimise pain.

“The less abstract reasons elicited were also very interesting,” Dr Diedericks says. “As anticipated, price and quality were some of the main reasons, and that linked directly with ‘value for money’. The style of clothing was also very important. The respondents indicated that they want to look good and express who they are (create a certain image) with the clothing they wear. Hassle-free shopping was also very prominent. For these consumers, ease of shopping, saving time, and convenience are of utmost importance. They perceive that these factors would result in shopping enjoyment and pleasure (personal value hedonism).”

- Author Kaya Nocanda

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