How Consumer Conformity Heavily Influences Purchase Intention in Fashion Industry, Doctor of Research in Management Thesis Defense by Elfindah Princes

The 4.0 industry is fast approaching, much sooner than any of us expect it.. What cannot be denied is how the revolution is going to change the dynamics of all global industries, not limited to the fashion industry. The integration of big data, social media exposure, and online shopping trends have resulted in a rapid change of consumer behavior, otherwise known as social conformity.

Teenagers purchasing outfits endorsed by their K-Pop idols, housewives buying the new designer bag because all their friends have one, millennials waiting to buy the brand-new smartphone to be seen as more professional. These are examples of social conformity, such as desires to be liked, correct, and conforming to a social role. Social conformity has been around us but the 4.0 industry, which brings social media to the new age, has significantly driven the purchase intention of social conformity, most importantly in the fast-growing and ever-changing fashion industry.

This topic was brought up by Dr. Elfindah Princes in her thesis defense for BINUS BUSINESS SCHOOL, Doctor of Research in Management, S3 BINUS University. Dr. Elfindah presented her thesis titled “Taking Advantage of Social Ties, Consumer Conformity and Strategic Complements Moderated by Innovation Acceptance to Increase Purchase Intention in Industry 4.0” in front of a group of promoters and examiners led by Prof. Dr. Ir. Harjanto Prabowo M.M. on Monday, February 15, 2021.

The unpredictability of the fashion industry

What’s on-trend may not always become the best sellers. Surely every fashion company and brand wants to know how to correctly predict what each of their customers wants to purchase. Dr. Elfindah believes that in order to do so, one must understand the correlation between social ties, consumer conformity, and strategic complements.

In her thesis for the Doctor of Research in Management S3 BINUS University, Dr. Elfindah conducted a quantitative analysis with a research sample from 470 respondents aged 18-55 to prove her 19 hypotheses relating to social comparison, image-related concerns, social ties, strategic complements, consumer conformity, innovation acceptance, and purchase intention. All these were then confirmed with in-depth interviews and Focus Group Discussion (FGD).

In her findings, it was revealed that 4 of her hypotheses got rejected or perceived as irrelevant. Social ties, social comparison, and strategic complements were proven to not affect buyers’ purchase intention in the fashion industry. This was a contradiction to the previous studies whose findings were proven otherwise.

What drives the purchase intention in the fashion industry?

Dr. Elfindah then conducted a path analysis to further understand which aspects can influence purchase intention in the fashion industry. Based on this analysis, Dr. Elfindah managed to draw strong correlations between consumer conformity, image-related concerns, and social ties to purchase intention. Dr. Elfindah also found that innovation acceptance was a driving force that could accelerate the effect of consumer conformity to purchase intentions.

Moving forward, Dr. Elfindah conducted a Power BI analysis which found that yes, women performed more consumer conformity than men, especially at the ages of 18-36. This means that these two groups are more easily influenced by advertisements, recommendations, and social judgments.

Dr. Elfindah argued that the reason her findings were contradictory to the previous studies was due to the fact that she specifically analyzed the fashion industry. She concluded that purchase intentions were largely influenced by social media and advertisements, which affected buyers’ image-related concerns firsthand. Despite gender and age, people agree that appearance and social outlook are very important for them to decide which fashion item to buy. To close her defense for the Doctor of Research in Management BINUS BUSINESS SCHOOL Dr. Elfindah summarized one key finding from her FGD, “Women care, that’s why fashion exists.” **(PID)