By drawing on Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2016), the philosophical stance of this research is discussed in this chapter. It refers to beliefs and assumptions on which the study is based on. The chosen philosophical concept creates the foundation for the following steps of the methodology and therefore, needs to be well-considered. There are two aspects which need to be taken into account, the ontological and epistemological dimension. While the ontological consideration investigates objectivism and constructionism, the epistemological dimension focuses on positivism, realism, interpretivism or pragmatism.
For the ontological consideration the constructionism perspective has been taken for this research. Whereas, in objectivism the reality and meaning of social phenomena do not depend on social interactions and only one, independent reality exists (Bryman, 2012). Constructionism supports a subjective point of origin and argues, that reality arises from social interaction. Constructionism entails the existence of several realities in regard to a phenomenon (Bryman, 2012).
The aim of this research is to describe the considerations of Generation Y when purchasing the high-involvement product everyday bra. It was essential for the researcher to take a subjective position to discover individual intentions of Generation Y women (Saunders et al., 2016). It is essential to understand, that this activity is one where women try to satisfy their own personal needs, which are divers and can vary drastically. As such it can be argued, that multiple perceptions or realities in the context of constructivism exist for the same item. Therefore, it is essential to take a subjective position to discover individual intentions (Saunders et al., 2016).
Further, for the epistemological consideration the concept of interpretivism was chosen, as it supports the interaction between participant and research. The philosophy of interpretivism emphasises the difference between researching objects and conducting research among people, further it is the way as humans’ attempt to interpret the world around us. The concept behind interpretivism is to discern and explain a phenomenon (Saunders et al., 2016). The goal of this present research is to get insights of the factors influencing individuals when choosing the high-involvement product everyday bra. Chandler and Munday (2016a) agree, that interpretivism creates insights, rather than prediction and explanation. Furthermore, it allows the research design to be evolved and supports adaptations as the researcher develops their learning. This makes it extremely appropriate to study the influential factors for everyday bra purchasing of Generation Y, as it will require a thorough knowledge and insights of their views. However, interpretivism does not expect to take the understanding of a fraction of Generation Y and therefore, predicts everyone else’s behaviour within the same cohort.
The research approach in this study should align with the afore discussed philosophical concepts. Additionally, a multi-dimensional and flexible research approach is required to capture all features of the posed question. Saunders et al. (2016) differentiate between a deductive and an inductive approach. On one hand, a deductive approach is usually chosen in natural science and relies on the objective collection and analysis of data and facts. In social science, it is preferable used when the research subject has already been investigated by several other authors and different theories have already been established (Saunders et al., 2016). Since both instances are not the case for this research, and according to Saunders et al., (2016) the deductive approach is more suitable for quantitative research, this approach has not been selected for this present study. On the other hand, the inductive approach is associated with interpretivism and little theoretical framework to encourage creativity (Malhotra, Birks & Wills, 2012). However, the next step of an inductive approach is to develop a theory based on the in-depth questions and on the elaboration on the chosen themes, which is not the case in this study.
The above-mentioned approaches gravitate towards a one-dimensional approach and tend to limit the research to some extent. A provenly successful framework in similar previous studies is an abductive approach, which combines the research approaches of deduction and induction (Saunder et al., 2016). An abductive approach is employed by this study, which is related to hermeneutics, illustrated by the theory of interpretation according to Saunder et al. (2016). Bryman (2012) states, that hermeneutics is a theory and method used to interpret human action, which therefore is aligned with the research philosophy of interpretivism.
Therefore, the flexible approach of abduction allows to utilize the researched factors of perceived influence on bra purchasing by Risius et al. (2012) and additional factors researched by other authors (Hume & Mills, 2013; Koff & Benavage, 1998; Wood et al., 2008). In addition, it allows the researcher to successively modify their framework due to empirical findings and further theoretical insights, which is the case in this current study. This adjustable procedure confirms the suitability of abduction for this study, as the aim is to gain knowledge over the purchasing behaviour and understanding the meaning behind the actions (Dubois & Gadde, 2002; Reichertz, 2009).
For this study the mono method of a qualitative study was chosen, which is a single data collection technique with corresponding analysis procedures (Saunders et al., 2016). The choice for this emerges from the fact, that the individual factors of bra shopping are analysed. Participants’ own experiences and their individual consumer behaviour are studied in this research. Therefore, in-depth interviews were chosen and conducted in a semi-structured nature. In-depth interviews are characterised by its length, depth and structure (Veal, 2017). The method enables the researcher to gain deep knowledge and understanding on a subject. Due to the semi-structured characteristic, questions are prepared, which should stimulate and encourage the interviewee to talk about the topic. However, during the interview follow up questions are asked to gather more detailed information and to give the interviewee the possibility to explain answers further. This results in a variety of answers within the interviews. No interview is exactly the same as another one, even though the same topic is covered (Veal, 2017). The outcomes are concentrated on recognising patterns and connections, which are used to put into the context of the research question (Boeije, 2010).
Semi-structured in-depth interviews give the opportunity to fully understand the consumer’s perspective and their behaviour. Furthermore, the study involves face-to-face interaction, which can be used to create a personal relationship between the interviewer and the interviewee before talking about a personal topic such as bra purchasing (Babin & Zikmund, 2016). Additionally, behavioural change of the interviewee can be noticed, because of the built-up trust (Babin & Zikmund, 2016; Veal, 2017).
Another essential aspect is the research purpose. Hence, the overall nature of the research, how the research question is dealt with and answered in the end. Saunders et al. (2016) defined three types of research purpose: exploratory, descriptive and explanatory. The purpose of this research is descriptive in order to expand on the theories discussed in the literature review and apply it to a different generation. Already existing literature and studies, such as the one from Risius et al. (2012) or Hart and Dewsnap (2001), which deal with the factors influencing the purchase behaviour while shopping for everyday bras, are used as base. These factors were tested, and the framework was adapted by research findings. As the name descriptive implies, it describes a particular situation, such as consumer behaviour while purchasing everyday bras (Babin & Zikmund, 2016; Saunders et al., 2016). This is related back to the research question, which is stated in chapter 1.3.
The primary data was collected through semi-structured in-depth interviews. For the interviews, guiding questions were set up, based on the literature review. Before an interview started, the participants were informed, that the provided information is treated confidentially. However, profiling information as seen in Appendix 3 is used in the report. Interviewees were informed, that personal information can be taken out, even post-interview.
Afterwards, the interview was structured in four different parts. Before the interview, the interviewees were asked to prepare themselves for the interview by bringing their favourite everyday bra (one or two bras). In the first step of the interview, the
participant was asked to explain the bra and different characteristics of it. This step was used as an ice breaker, and to make the participant comfortable talking about the topic. The prepared questions are used to understand the factors influencing their choice for their favourite bra.
In the second step, general questions about bra shopping were asked. The researchers aimed to get a thorough understanding on the influencing factors of everyday bra purchasing. The questions were generated leant onto the established research framework and were set up to allow the participant to talk freely about any other influencing factors while bra shopping.
Thirdly, the interviewees were shown different bras, which were unrestrictedly provided by various companies. The different brands have not been disclosed to the participants and were solely used to judge the perceived influential factors. Consequently, the participants were asked which characteristics they like and do not like about the bras. This resulted in the follow-up question, which bra they consider buying or not buy and the reasoning behind it. The full interview guide can be found in Appendix 1. Nevertheless, due to the semi-structured characteristics of the interview, additional questions, which arouse during the interviews, were asked to get a thorough understanding of the purchase behaviour of the participants.
In the last phase, profile questions were asked, such as age, bra size and country of origin. The data was directly put into a table with all the profiling information of the participants, which can be referenced in Appendix 3.
Before the actual interviews, testing interviews were conducted on the 9th and 11th of March 2019. After each of the interviews the questions and interview structure were adapted, for example one question concerning the body perception was added. Furthermore, a question regarding the function of the bra (Why are you wearing a bra?) was added. Besides, it was decided, that the room should be masked off during the interviews so that the interviewees are not distracted by people walking by and that participants feel, that their privacy is not violated while conducting the interviews. Hence, the test interviews helped to improve questions and the atmosphere of the real interviews. Moreover, it increased the competencies of the researchers to conduct interviews. The 18 interviews were then conducted in Jönköping, Sweden and Borås,Sweden between 19th of March and 10th of April with European citizens who are currently students. The women were aged 20 to 34.
At both locations, Jönköping and Borås, university rooms were booked. These locations were selected due to restricted time and budget for this study. Further, the locations had to be reached conveniently by the researchers, who were located in Jönköping. This created a neutral atmosphere. However, it was made sure, that the windows were masked with paper to ensure privacy and create a comfortable environment and eliminate external influences. In addition, drinks and snacks in form of sweets and nuts were provided. The sample bras were presented in the same order. Additionally, the interviewers and interviewees were always placed in the same way to ensure the same setting for all interviews.
Due to the limited time frame in which the interviews were conducted, the research is of cross-sectional nature. The interviews provide a snapshot about the factors influencing women at the time of the interview. This might be influenced by the season, personal economic situation, society movements or fashion trends and might differ to what extent certain characteristics influence this generation in a few years.
For the research, appropriate participants needed to be identified. Not all women feel comfortable to talk openly about their bra purchasing experience as it is a personal activity (Hart & Dewsnap, 2001). Therefore, it was necessary to evaluate first who is open for sharing their personal preferences without feeling distressed.
Saunders et al., (2016) defined between probability and non-probability sampling. In this study, non-probability sampling was chosen, specifically a mixture of convenient, judgemental and snowball sampling was applied (Babin & Zikmund, 2016). Due to its cost efficiency, convenience sampling was used and only students were part of the study. Moreover, judgemental sampling was applied due to the sensitivity of the topic (Babin & Zikmund, 2016). The participants needed to feel comfortable to talk about bra purchasing, hence it was important to interview talkative and extrovert people as they usually do not have a problem to talk about personal issues. Beforehand, it was judged whether the interviewees would want to reveal information about their personal experiences in the interview. Furthermore, snowball sampling was used as after the interviews, participants were asked whether they know other people interested to participate in the study.
All participants, which were interviewed in the study were in normal health, not pregnant, not lactating and only one had a breast reduction in the past. Women with a variety of bra sized were selected. However, the bra size was self-assessed.
Problem Discussion and Purpose
Structure of the Thesis
2. Literature Review
Purchase Behaviour of Generation
The High-Involvement Product Everyday Bra
Perceived Influential Factors in Everyday Bra Purchasing
4. Findings Comfort
4.1.1. Generic Comfort
4.1.4. Bra Fit
4.1.5. Shoulder Straps
4.2.3. Attractiveness of bra
4.2.4. Appearance in clothes
4.2.7. Shoulder Straps
4.3.2. Availability and buying
4.3.3. Importance of good quality
4.3.4. Choice of purchasing options
4.3.5. Range and Choice of bras
4.4.1. Shop Assistant
4.4.2. To improve self-confidence
4.4.3. To alter perceptions of one’s body
4.4.4. Being fitted
4.5.1. To give general support
4.5.2. To provide uplift
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