An investigation into whether young teens change their clothing consumer behaviour and brand preferences after the transition from primary school (grade seven) to high school (grade eight) in the South Western Cape

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study focused on two segments that have emerged from an evolution within the children's market- the tween and young teen markets. However, few market researchers had investigated the transition between these two stages - leaving primary school and going to high school. Despite there being a rather small age gap between older tweens and young teens, the numerous challenges brought about due to the transition from primary school to high school could affect areas such as academic performance, friendships and so forth. It was the aim of this study to uncover any changes in relation to the consumer behaviour and brand preferences of young teens occurred due to this transitional period. The literature review looked at the international and South African older tween and young teen markets through market identification and characterization. The transition phase from primary school to high school looked at the similarities and differences of older tweens and young teens and the social and academic impact of school transitions on grade eights. Four areas were identified that were said to influence one's clothing consumer behaviour and brand preferences as a result of the school transition to high school. These were developmental changes; the influence of one's reference groups; role models and the media that one subscribes to, and the financial circumstances in which one lives. The researcher also investigated brand loyalty and the influence of peer pressure on the clothing consumer behaviour and brand preferences of young teens. Furthermore, the literature review covered branding and how fashion and brands influenced the consumer behaviour of young teens. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used in this study. The primary research tools used were the two surveys that were successfully administered to two hundred and seventy four grade sevens and eights in ten schools in the South Western Cape. Permission was obtained from the Western Cape Education Department and a time restriction was given for the surveys to be administered to the schools. The researcher also used qualitative research methods in the form of experience interviews with nine members of the academic and business community who were deemed knowledgeable on the topics of child development, branding, consumer behaviour and school transitions. Limited focus groups were conducted, although this was primarily used to construct the questionnaires. Furthermore, the researcher made use of secondary data sources such as reputable and peer reviewed journal articles, books and so forth. Out of the five school sets in this research study the De Kuilen school set showed statistically significant results between grade sevens and eights with regards to developmental, reference group, financial and brand preference changes. The Kuils River school set also showed statistically significant results with regards to developmental, role models, peer pressure and brand preference changes. However, the rest of the school sets showed minor or failed to show statistical differences between the two grades in question. On the whole no significant developmental, reference group, role model and peer pressure changes were noted between grade sevens and grade eights. On the other hand, two of the findings agreed with the initial hypotheses that were put forward. Financial changes did occur, as grade eights received more pocket money than grade sevens and parents were still involved in purchasing clothing for their young teens; and as expected, young teens failed to prove brand loyal. Consequently, although two null hypotheses (financial changes and brand loyalty) were accepted out of six proposed and two school sets out of the five showed statistical differences between the two grades on the matters investigated, the primary null hypothesis was rejected. The researcher concluded that young teens in the South Western Cape did not change their clothing consumer behaviour and brand preferences after entering high school. However, this conclusion was limited only to those schools and students who participated in the study. The researcher recommended that in general both grades could be targeted together as one clothing brand market. Especially when young teens were in the first part of grade eight, as both markets liked wearing brands such as Billabong and Roxy for very similar reasons. In addition, the lack of brand loyalty was not seen to be a hindrance, but an opportunity for marketers to attract young teens due to the fashionability and affordability of the clothing. Their purchasing power not only by themselves, but also more often than not with the help of their parents made them a lucrative market worthy of attention. On the other hand, while the researcher may have gained more knowledge from using more qualitative research, as some information from the questionnaires contradicted each other, it was also suggested that due the two age groups being so similar, it may have been more beneficial to compare two differing age groups such as grade sevens and nines.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 149-159).