Influence of Consumer Age and Clothing Type of the Salesperson on Consumer Satisfaction with the Salesperson's Performance
In the retail environment, the salesperson is a strong factor of influence in consumer Â´s decision process because a store image and ability to build loyalty can heavily depend on the ability and characteristics of the salesperson (Engel, Blackwell, & Miniard, 1995). A consumer may fully anticipate buying, but this intention may change if the salespersonÂ´s performance is not satisfactory. Engel et al. (1995) indicated that appearance is an important characteristic of the salesperson. Clothing is an essential part of the salespersonÂ´s appearance and it can transmit many meanings, such as identity, mood, and attitude (Stone, 1962). Hawkins, Best, and Coney (1998) indicated that consumers in different age groups have different attitudes, values, and behaviors. The purpose of this study is to determine the influence of consumer age and the clothing type of the salesperson in the apparel consumer satisfaction process.
Based on the previous literatures, a conceptual model was developed as a framework of the study. This model suggests that consumer age and the clothing type of the salesperson influence consumer attitude toward the salesperson, which in turn influences consumer expectation and evaluation of the salespersonÂ´s performance. Consumer expectation and evaluation of the salespersonÂ´s performance, and expectancy disconfirmation (i.e., the confirmation/ disconfirmation between consumer expectation and evaluation of the salespersonÂ´s performance) are three factors that influence consumer satisfaction with the salespersonÂ´s performance. Six hypotheses were generated to test this model. A 2 x 2 between-subjects factorial design was used with two age groups (adolescents and the elderly) and two clothing types of the salesperson (formal and informal). Two questionnaires with the same scenario, but two pictures of the salesperson with the different clothing types, were developed as the measurement of instrument. The participants were 120 adolescent males 16 to 19 years old and 120 elderly males 65 years and older.
Results indicated that a significant interaction existed between consumer age and the clothing type of the salesperson in consumer attitude toward the salesperson. Adolescent participants had a more positive attitude toward the salesperson with an informal clothing type. On the other hand, elderly participants had a significantly more positive attitude toward the salesperson with a formal clothing type. Significantly positive relationships were found between consumer attitude toward the salesperson and consumer expectation and evaluation of the salespersonÂ´s performance. These results indicated that a more positive attitude toward the salesperson was related to a higher expectation and evaluation of the salespersonÂ´s performance. Significantly positive relationships were also found between consumer expectation and consumer satisfaction, and consumer evaluation and consumer satisfaction. A higher expectation and evaluation of the salespersonÂ´s performance was related to a higher satisfaction with the salespersonÂ´s performance. When the relationship between expectancy confirmation/disconfirmation and consumer satisfaction was examined, results indicated that participants were more satisfied with the salespersonÂ´s performance when their evaluations of the salespersonÂ´s performance were equal or better than their expectations, than when their evaluations were worse than their expectations.
The results of this study suggest that consumer age and the clothing type of the salesperson influences consumer satisfaction with the salesperson. Several marketing applications were discussed and recommendation was given for the future study.