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This dissertation tries to fill the gap in this field by investigating and comparing the luxury fashion products purchasing motivations of Chinese and Japanese young female consumers.

With a qualitative methodological approach, the in-depth interview data collection method, and the thematic analysis technique, the researcher arrived at main and other specific themes relating to the Chinese and Japanese purchasing motivations of luxury fashion goods. Themes were categorised and generalised into different groups of motivations concluded from the literature body, similarities and differences between the two countries were then addressed in the finding chapter. This chapter would provide an overall conclusion of the research findings, identify the theoretical and managerial implications of the research, outline the limitations, and discuss about the future research directions.

5.1 Overall Conclusion

Through a qualitative method and in-depth interview, the research found both similarities and differences between Chinese and Japanese relating to luxury fashion products purchasing motivations. The four ‘main themes’ represent similarities, and the ‘other themes’ specific motives for consumers from each nation. However, it is noticeable that even similar themes/motivations could have subtle differences. The similarities and

differences are discussed and summarised as follows:

Functional-oriented motivation: Chinese and Japanese consumers are motivated to purchase luxury fashion products as the excellent quality, longevity and durability, the style and design, and the unique attributes of luxury fashion branded items. While Chinese respondents perceive the ‘durability’ as the long-lasting of the luxury brands, Japanese consumers concentrate more on the product itself and qualities. Besides, Japanese consumers could be motivated by the ‘usability’ of the luxury fashion items as they mentioned that these items could usually match many other clothes, and could be used either for work or other occasions.

Social/Interpersonal-oriented motivation: Chinese and Japanese consumers are motivated to buy luxury fashion goods as these products’ abilities to influence the way the individual is perceived or viewed by other people. Three common aspects in this category are shared by both Chinese and Japanese consumers: conspicuous consumption of displaying wealth and success, prestige value or the brand reputation, and the group conformity motives. Among these three aspects, Chinese consumers are more strongly motivated by the attention they gain from status and wealth displaying, while Japanese consumers emphasise the influences of their willingness to fit into social groups. Both of them are motivated by the high brand reputation of luxuries. Besides, Chinese consumers are also motivated by the perceived luxuries’ ability to make them feel superior, unique, confident and different through the comparison with other people.

Individual/Personal-oriented motivation: In this category, consumers are motivated to purchase luxury fashion items for the values and effects these goods could bring to themselves, they are self-directed to purchase luxuries and no external audience is needed.

The Chinese and Japanese consumers are both motivated by self-identity expressed by purchasing luxury fashion goods, the hedonic/emotional satisfaction they can obtain from purchases (self-pleasing, self-rewarding, and self-satisfaction), and the materialistic value.

Finance value-oriented motivation: Chinese and Japanese respondents’ views towards the product value represented by the high prices are of slight difference. Although respondents from both country agree that the high price of a certain luxury fashion branded item contains the tangible (quality, design, usability, feature, etc.) and intangible (brand reputation, awareness, history, etc.), Chinese consumers seem to focus more on the brand reputation and awareness, while Japanese consumers believe the quality, design, and usability are more important for them.

Specific motivations for Chinese: Chinese consumers can be motivated by other specific themes when purchasing luxuries. Firstly, many Chinese respondents believe that the luxury goods could help them look more professional, high grade, reliable and successful, which may bring them better working opportunities. Secondly, they would also be motivated by a desire to gain ‘face’ and improve relationships with other people. Finally, some consumers view luxury fashion products as means to improve their living standard.

Specific motivations for Japanese: For Japanese consumers, besides the main motivations, they would also consider whether the luxury brand represents their attitudes towards life, the customer services and the in-store experiences, and whether the raw material of certain luxury product is of good quality and sustainability.

5.2 Implications

5.2.1 Theoretical Implications Findings based on the data within the research would have some implications for the theories relating to the Chinese and Japanese luxury fashion product purchasing motivations, or broaden area of the luxury consumption literature body.

The dissertation provides some supporting research findings and extra information for the literature. The main motivations discovered validate the functional value, social and individual effects, and financial value of luxuries branded items, which are consumers’ main concerns towards luxury purchasing. For the specific luxury purchase motivations of Chinese and Japanese consumers, this dissertation provides research-based findings and discussions, instead of using empirical results from the literature to extrapolate motivations to fit into these two cultures. Although most of the themes (such as functional value, conspicuous consumption, uniqueness, group conformity, personal effects, financial effects/values, ‘face’, gift, etc.), whether specific or shared by both countries, are already addressed in the literature body, some other themes might not be so common in the previous studies (such as the relationship improvement). Therefore, the findings could support Chinese and Japanese cultural-specific motivations, providing more information and variables for further academic qualitative and quantitative research in these two countries.

In addition, as to the cross-cultural comparison, the research proves the necessity to consider about the cultural and social influences upon consumers’ perception and motivations towards luxury purchasing. For example, Chinese and Japanese luxury consumers are influenced by the same motivation theme, the degrees of the impact on each group could be different. Furthermore, although this research chooses the specific ‘Luxury fashion products’ category and the participants of ‘young professional females’, consumers’ perceptions towards the same theme could vary across these two countries.

5.2.2 Managerial/Practical implications The Asia is among the important markets for luxury fashion brands, by exploring the Chinese and Japanese young females’ luxury fashion product purchasing motivations, luxury fashion brands are able to gain insights into consumers’ views, perceptions, behaviours and motivations. Besides, the research data also provide some market information for luxury fashion companies to use in the environmental analysis, and adjust specific marketing strategies tailored to each market segment (the Chinese young female market, and the Japanese young female market).

In addition, the cross-cultural nature of the dissertation presents the similarities and differences in luxury purchase motivations between the two nations. The common themes from Chinese and Japanese data indicate that luxury fashion companies could firstly set similar marketing strategy on a general level, and then adjust the strategies to a more customised and specific level, according to the differences. When deciding specific marketing strategies, luxury fashion brands should consider the cultural and social influences on consumers’ purchasing motivations. For example, the findings illustrate that Chinese consumers are strongly motivated by social/interpersonal effects of luxury fashion items, while the Japanese consumers may focus more on group conformity and personal effects. These imply that luxury fashion organisations could promote and strengthen the social/interpersonal effects of luxuries in their marketing strategies in China, and emphasise the personal value of luxuries in the Japanese market. However, comparing the previous studies and this research data on Chinese consumer luxury purchase motivation, it is noticeable that Chinese young females begin to shift their attention from luxuries’ social effects to individual effects. Luxury fashion brands should notice and predict the future changes in consumers’ perception and motivations, in order to form and develop competitive strategies.

5.3 Limitations

As indicated before, how the data gathered and interpreted could lead to bias in findings.

Besides, constraints pre-set before conducting the research may also cause the differences between literature and the findings of this research. Firstly, the motivations explored are limited to Chinese and Japanese consumers; they cannot represent luxury fashion purchasing motivations of consumers from other countries. Secondly, the respondents chosen in this research are females with relatively higher educational degrees aging from 24 to 35, and they are mainly living in big cities where luxury fashion brands distribute widely. The constraints would lead to the consequence that the data and the findings may not reflect the accurate luxury fashion purchasing motivations of all the Chinese and Japanese consumers. For example, males from the similar generation, females from the elder generation, consumers living in middle or small cities, consumers with lower education could have different perspectives and purchase motivations of luxury fashion items.

Thirdly, as the ‘luxury fashion brand/product’ type is selected, the information and the data gathered are accordingly focused on this category, rather than the general luxury products.

Respondents’ views, perspectives and motivations may vary according to different types of luxury items. Therefore, while fundamental motivations could be generalised to different types of luxury products, specific motivations might not be perfectly applied to other luxury product types, such as luxury automobiles.

5.5 Further Research This research aims to investigate and compare luxury fashion products purchase motivations of Chinese and Japanese young females, some directions of further research would be addressed in this section.

Firstly, as different groups could have different perceptions and motivations towards luxury purchasing, the participants in the research could be from other consumers, for example, consumers from other age groups, males, people with relatively lower educational levels, university students, Chinese and Japanese who live in other countries, etc. This would provide a comprehensive base for motivation exploration of a specific country. Secondly, other particular luxury category such as luxury automobile, jewellery, cosmetics and watches could be research areas to see if there are any specific themes relevant to certain particular category. Thirdly, researchers could also compare the luxury perceptions and purchasing motivations of consumers in Asian and Western cultures (e.g., Chinese and British consumers, Japanese and American consumers, Chinese/Japanese and Chinese/Japanese overseas residents, Chinese and Hong Kong Chinese, etc.). The crosscultural comparisons could provide valuable contributions to both academic fields and practical luxury industry. Fourthly, further researches could also be conducted in other fast growing Asian markets such as South Korea and India. This could also contribute to the luxury consumption research both academically and practically. Finally, as mentioned before, most of the previous literature and studies were based on the Western societies, theories of consumer perceptions and motivations might not be applied to the Asian societies, this is among the reasons why this dissertation chooses the qualitative method: to discover the common and specific motivations of Chinese and Japanese consumers. The findings verify most of the luxury purchasing motivations in the literature, as well as discover some unique motivations in both countries. Combined with the previous studies, researchers could conduct quantitative studies to explore their relative weight in larger base population.

References Arghavan N, Zaichkowsky JL. Do counterfeits devalue the ownership of luxury brands? Journal of Product & Brand Management 2000; 9(7):485–97.

Bagwell Laurie Simon, Bernheim Douglas. Veblen effects in a theory of conspicuous consumption. Am Econ Rev 1996;86(3):349–73.

Bagwell, Laurie S. and B. Douglas Bernheim. 1996. ―Veblen Effects in a Theory of Conspicuous Consumption. American Economic Review 86 (3): 349-373.

Berger, P. and Luckmann, T. (1966), The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge, Garden City, NY: Anchor Books.

Berry, C. J. (1994). The idea of luxury: A conceptual and historical investigation, Cambridge:

Cambridge University Press.

Berthon, P., Pitt, L., Parent, M., Berthon, J-P., 2009. Aethetics and ephemerality: observing and preserving the luxury brand. California Management Review 52 (1), 45–66.

Bian, Q., 2010. Examining U.S. and Chinese Students’ Purchase Intention Formation for Luxury Brands. Auburn University, Auburn.

Bian, Qin & Forsythe, Sandra. (2012). Purchase intention for luxury brands: A cross cultural comparison. Journal of Business Research, 65 (2012) 1443–1451.

Bian Xuemei, Veloutsou Cleopatra. (2007). Consumers' attitudes regarding non-deceptive counterfeit brands in the UK and China. J Brand Management, 12(3):211–22.

Boodhoo, R. and Purmessur R., (2009). “Justifications for Qualitative Research in Organisations: A Step Forward”. The Journal of Online Education [online]. Available at: http://www.nyu.edu/classes/keefer/waoe/deeprosh2.pdf [Retrieved on August 03, 2013].

Brannen, J. (2005). Mixing methods: The entry of qualitative and quantitative approaches into the research process. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 8(3), 173-184.

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