The Effects of Visual and Written Fit Information on Plus-size Women's Perceived Fit Risk, Purchase Intention, and Loyalty intentions in Internet Apparel Shopping

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Virginia Tech


Within the last few years, retail sales have averaged an annual growth of about 4% with electronic commerce retail sales averaging an increase of over 20% per year (U.S Census Bureau, 2008). The e-commerce retail sector of apparel, accessories, and footwear reached $18.3 billion in sales and ranked as a top selling category (, 2007). A growing apparel market with strong buying power is the plus-size clothing industry with approximately $32 billion in sales in 2005, and an average of about a 10% growth rate each year (Yadegaran, 2006). Despite the growth in the industry, little empirical research has been conducted regarding plus-size Internet apparel shoppers. Additionally the field lacks research that focuses on garment fit for the plus-size market.

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of product presentation factors, visual fit information (size of model photographed) and written fit information (fit related product description), on plus-size women's perceived fit risk, purchase intention, and loyalty intentions in Internet apparel shopping. This study employed a 2 x 2 between subjects' factorial design: visual fit information (plus-size model vs. non plus-size model) by written fit information (more elaborate vs. less elaborate). Four mock web pages were created to closely mimic the design of a true plus-size Internet apparel retailer. Each web page presented a model wearing the same dress for plus-size women and a written product description. The stimuli consisted of an identical dress in color and style, presented on both a plus-size model and a non plus-size model, and similar written fit information with more detailed information about garment style, garment dimensions, and fit editorial presentation for more elaborate stimuli. One hundred fourteen women between the ages of 19 and 64 participated in this study for incentives such as a free plus-size apparel gift-card, using snowball sampling method.

Using descriptive statistics, multivariate analyses of variance and univariate analyses of variance, the present research showed (1) no main effects of visual fit information on perceived fit risk, purchase intention, and loyalty intention, and (2) no main effects of written fit information on perceived fit risk, purchase intention and loyalty intention. The study added valuable empirical findings to the literature on the relationship between fit related information and perceived fit risk, purchase intention and loyalty intention among plus-size Internet apparel shoppers.



plus-size apparel, fit information, Internet shopping