The purpose of this study is to explore whether models’ showing clothing in the online shopping market affects consumer decisions of purchasing clothing. Since online sellers’ displaying their clothing through “models” can make more profit, this study intends to find out whether the characteristics of models have a persuasive capability of affecting consumer decisions. Furthermore, the study also discusses whether there is a difference between clothing photos taken by a professional photographer and those by an amateur, and whether consumers characteristics, information sources, perceived risks, risk avoidance and post-purchase assessment will make any difference to the final purchase decision to clothing products displayed by models.
The study used an internet questionnaire based method to collect information among female consumers. A total of 819 female consumers who have purchased clothing over the internet assisted with the study. Statistical results showed that the majority of the sample were young women in the age group of 20-30 years (75.2%); most had an educational level of college or higher (81%); the years of experience in buying clothes were mostly 3-6 years (>70%), and 37.1% of the subjects would buy clothes through the internet every 2~3 weeks. In addition, the study found out that two factors, the demographic variable and online shopping experience in clothes, among the consumer characteristics had a significant relation with the dimensions in information source, perceived risk, photos information assessment, risk avoidance and post-purchase assessment.
Four conclusions were summarized in this study: (1) Female consumers with a higher disposable income, higher frequency with online shopping and higher average consumption expenditure are more likely to be attracted by models with bright appearances and slim bodies. While consumers keep their focus on the model, they are more likely to neglect the clothing texture and other details. Furthermore, female consumers who are graduated or older are more likely to select models who have a similar body figure with themselves as a comparison for making decisions. Results show that with education non-significance, the other consumer characteristics may all likely be influenced by models at the purchase decision process. In addition, consumers are more attracted to online photos displaying more similar to a fashion magazine by professional photographers. They consider that quality of clothing showed on photos by professional photographers and what consumers receive match more if the clothing demonstrated by the model. However, the issue of color difference by professional shooting will still be considered one factor affecting their final decision. Therefore, experienced consumers consider that self-taken photos by sellers with non-professional skills have a greater appeal to their purchase intentions. (2) From the perspective of information source, it is found that clothes displayed by models are better in attracting consumers to click the webpage and browse. (3) During the post-purchase assessment with clothing products, consumers consider that the perceived risk due to the product not meeting with one’s expectations can be avoided (risk avoidance) by inspecting the information from photos of the clothing displayed by models. (4) Experts in online shopping will trust more on regular online sellers than novice buyers. When evaluating photos, these experts are able to identify whether the cuts and shapes of the clothing are blocked by models’ posture, which may affect their decision. In addition, they look at the text description of the clothes and the model’s information for reference, namely, they are more-rational consumers. In comparison to novice online buyers, they have a better sense to the key information and are able to make comprehensive considerations.