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Millennial consumers' responses to advertising for a transformational apparel product




Sylvester, Rebecca, author
Hyllegard, Karen, advisor
Miller, Nancy, committee member
Rosecrance, John, committee member

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Owing to the growth in the sportswear industry, and more specifically growth in the outdoor wear industry, companies are innovating products to find a competitive advantage over well established brands. Consumer demand for better preforming attire manufactured with consideration for the environment is driving product development and companies' commitment to more sustainable and transparent practices. One solution to the growing consumer demands is adaptable or transformational apparel. Adaptable or transformational apparel refers to apparel products designed with an ability to be manipulated to serve multiple functions beyond the normal expectations and functions of the apparel item. Members of the Millennial generation (i.e., individuals born between 1981 and 1997) are likely to spend more money on a product from a sustainable brand than from a non-sustainable brand (Bucic, Harris, & Arli, 2012; Cone Communications, 2015; The Center for Generational Kinetics, 2016; Fry, 2016).  This cohort is concerned with the environment, is interested in product innovations, and has an expectation for 'cutting-edge' products. The Millennial generation is the largest generation in the U.S. population and workforce, and therefore has a high purchasing power (Fry, 2016). Based upon Millennial consumers' characteristics, this cohort was identified as an ideal target market for transformational outdoor wear apparel. Consumers' preferences for the functionality and sustainability of clothing has been examined in specific contexts; however, to date, there is limited research examining consumers' acceptance of transformational apparel for use in outdoor and sport activities. Therefore, this study examined how message framing of functionality and sustainability for product attributes influenced Millennial consumers' attitudes toward advertisements, attitudes toward brand, and purchase intentions toward a transformational apparel product. An integrated conceptual framework, which included the model of Message Framing for Brand Communication (MFBC) (Tsai, 2007) and the Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991), informed the development of the present study. Together, these models provided a framework for examining consumers' responses to advertising messages for a transformational apparel product. Data were collected through an online survey administered through the survey firm Qualtrics. The final sample included 176 participants born between the years 1981 and 1997. The results indicated that message framing did not influence Millennial consumers' attitudes toward advertisements for a transformational textile product, however, their attitudes toward advertisements did influence Millennial consumers' attitudes toward the Loki brand. Findings from the basic model revealed that Millennial consumers' purchase intentions toward a transformational apparel product were influenced by attitudes toward the brand and subjective norm, but they were not influenced by perceived behavioral control. Furthermore, findings from an extended regression model revealed that the consumers' purchase intentions were influenced by outdoor participation, product knowledge, and attitudes toward the brand, whereas self-construal, product involvement, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control did not influence purchase intentions. The findings from this research revealed several implications for product development and marketing as well as suggestions for future research. This research has implications for the outdoor wear industry specifically with respect to apparel product development and marketing initiatives targeted to the Millennial generation.


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