Consumption of Image-Related Luxury Products: An Exploratory Study of Chinese Students in the UK.
[Dissertation (University of Nottingham only)]
The aim of this research is to explore UK’s Chinese students’ perceptions of luxury products, and their motivations of purchasing image-related luxury goods. Literature consists of five parts namely: the research context of Chinese students in the UK, the various definitions of “luxury” from different academics, the effect of gender on luxury consumption categories, consumer motivations of purchasing image-related luxury products, and culture value influence. A framework of luxury value from Tynan et al. (2010) will be largely applied to explore their motives of image-related luxury consumption. A qualitative approach is employed to conduct exploratory in-depth and semi-structured interviews with eight and twelve interviewees respectively. However, the semi-structured interviews build on the in-depth interviews so as to further explore relevant issues that arise from the first stage of data collection and gain further insights on the topic.
The findings of the study disclose that UK’s Chinese students hold various ideas, and illustrate their own explanations about the term “luxury”. Exclusive, expensive and high quality are the most common attributes for them to describe the notion “luxury”. When it comes to luxury products, it is found that high price and quality, high brand awareness and excellent design are the most important aspects to distinguish luxury products and non-luxury products for these students. With regard to the effect of gender on luxury consumption categories, it is essential to note that female students are more likely to buy image-related luxury products such as clothes and bags; while male students prefer to buy luxury furniture and luxury holiday. In addition, it is found that socio-economic factors also potentially motivate those UK’s Chinese students to purchase such luxury items. Apart from socio-economic dimensions, the author also found that utilitarian, self-directed symbolic/expressive, cost/sacrifice and experiential/hedonic values are dominant motives for UK’s Chinese students’ purchasing such products. What is more, when coding a model of Personal Orientation towards Luxury-Brand Consumption (PO-LBC) (Tsai, 2005), the author further found that UK’s Chinese students purchase image-related luxury goods with stronger personal orientation, which indirectly demonstrate the above motivations including utilitarian, self-directed symbolic, and hedonic values. In terms of two Chinese cultural values (face consciousness and Confucianism) it is found that they are not essential factors in motivating those students to purchase image-related luxury goods in this study.
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