Factors influencing South African female generation Y students’ purchase behaviour of beauty products
Dalziel, Riané Cherylise
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Fashion is regarded as a significant part of the economy, as the global fashion industry revenue reaches an astounding 1.2 trillion USD annually (Attire Club, 2013). In South Africa, fashion is regarded as an important industry that forms part of the economic development programme of the government (Grail Research, 2009:13). Brown (2013) explains that the African fashion industry has a forecast to become an industry worth 15.5 billion USD by 2019 (Aderibigbe, 2014). Fashion is perceived by the fashion industry as a selection of material and non-material aspects and, therefore, defined as an object as well as a process (Vieira, 2009:179). According to Rudd and Lennon (2000:152), the fashion process includes any aspect that forms part of managing one's outward appearance. Therefore, individuals do not only make use of apparel, they also utilise cosmetics to enhance their appearance or express their style. Accordingly, fashion comprises a number of different industries, namely apparel, footwear, leather, jewellery, perfumes, and cosmetics (Macchion et al., 2015:173). The Euromonitor International (2015) specifies that the global cosmetic industry maintained an industry growth of five percent in 2014. Allied Market Research (2015), reiterates this by stating that lifestyle improvements and the increase of disposable income will result in a future growth in the global cosmetics market. In 2013, the South African cosmetic industry accounted for six percent (R17 billion) of the manufacturing industry (Vorster, 2014:4), with a growth of 4.1 percent annually, between 1995 and 2013. In a market that has reached such a level of vigorous development, it is imperative to understand consumers’ consumption regarding cosmetics or beauty products (Chen et al., 2011:11630). The young female market’s significant interest in cosmetics is perceived to be especially salient to fashion marketers and retailers (Nezakati et al., 2013:127). Yalkin and Rosenbaum-Elliot (2013:301) contest that it is essential to understand the underlying factors of the consumption of younger consumers. Parment (2013:190) states that younger consumers, the Generation Y cohort, is sizeable and has significant purchasing power. Markert (2004:21) defines Generation Y as those individuals born between 1986 and 2005, which in 2016 puts them at 11 to 30 years of age. South Africa’s population totalled around 55 908 900 in 2016, of which an estimated 37 percent formed part of the Generation Y cohort (Statistics South Africa, 2016). The size of this cohort makes them salient to South African marketers and retailers. Generation Y members who have engaged in tertiary education are especially important to marketers, as higher education correlates with higher future earning potential and higher social standing (Bevan-Dye & Surujlal, 2011:49; Day & Newburger, 2002). In addition, Kim and Jang (2014:39) opine that the Generation Y cohort has more occasions and reasons to spend, and that women from this group are prone to spend more money on luxury purchases. Female consumers enjoy considerable purchasing power, which increases their economic force (Pudaruth et al., 2013:179), as they control 20 trillion USD in annual consumer spending globally, and this amount is expected to increase to nearly 30 trillion USD (Barmann, 2014). Research reveals that the impact of female consumers is ascendant in the cosmetic and beauty care industry (Pudaruth et al., 2013:180). Moreover, research indicates women’s physical appearance is more important in society than men’s physical appearance, and women will most likely use fashion to express their identity and uniqueness (Bakewell et al., 2006). The primary objective of this study was to propose and empirically test a model of the antecedents of female Generation Y students’ purchase intention of beauty products in South Africa. The proposed model suggests that attitude towards beauty products, variety-seeking, status consumption, subjective norms, media influence, group influence, celebrity influence, physical vanity, price consciousness and beauty product innovativeness are factors that influence female Generation Y students’ purchase intention towards beauty products. The sampling frame consisted of a list of the 26 registered South African public HEIs, which included 11 traditional universities, nine comprehensive universities and six universities of technology. From the sampling frame, a non-probability judgement sample of three HEI campuses situated in the Gauteng province was selected. Of these, one is a traditional university, one a university of technology and one a comprehensive university. Thereafter, a single cross-sectional non-probability convenience sample of 780 full-time undergraduate female Generation Y students aged between 18 and 24 was taken in 2016. Of the questionnaires completed, 610 were usable. The statistical analysis of the collected data included exploratory factor analysis, descriptive statistical analysis, correlation analysis and structural equation modelling. The findings of this study indicate that female Generation Y students have a favourable attitude towards beauty products, and that these attitudes, together with subjective norms, price consciousness and product innovativeness have a direct influence on these consumers’ purchase intention of beauty products. Moreover, they display positive intentions towards beauty products. Furthermore, these consumers are influenced by their variety-seeking and status consumption orientation regarding their beauty product purchases. Media-, celebrity-, and group influence, as well as their level of physical vanity, price consciousness and beauty product innovativeness play an imperative role in the beauty product purchases of these consumers. This study contributes to the limited literature available on consumers’ purchase intention towards beauty products in the South African market, with specific reference to the factors that influence the female Generation Y cohort’s purchase intention of beauty products. Furthermore, this study will add information and theory to the literature of South Africa and enhance beauty product purchase intention literature internationally. The findings of this study provide insight into predicting the female Generation Y cohort’s purchase intentions across a range of beauty product categories in the South African context. In addition, the results of this study have important implications for South African and international marketing practitioners and retailers involved in beauty product retailing, given that they can use the model proposed by this study to understand the factors that influence female Generation Y students’ purchase intention of beauty products. This study offers guidance for selecting, developing or adapting effective marketing strategies to target the female portion of the Generation Y cohort within the South African beauty product industry.