A cross-cultural investigation of the effect of cosmopolitan consumer orientation on the consumption of sustainable apparel among young metropolitan consumers

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Maria Soledad Gil del Alcázar (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Jin Su

Abstract: Traditionally, when we think of cosmopolitan consumers we focus on their interest and favorable disposition towards purchasing foreign products. In a currently globalized world, individuals with a strong cosmopolitan consumer orientation (CCO) think of themselves beyond their city or country and consider the world their marketplace. Despite the acknowledged relevance of CCO in international marketing and consumer behavior, seldom does academic research study the effect of CCO on sustainable behavior. No published research, to the best of our knowledge, has examined the relationship between CCO and consumer behavior of sustainable apparel. Due to deterioration of the environment, the well-being of society, and the urgency to adhere to more sustainable lifestyles, this study proposes that CCO also drives consumers’ intention to protect the world through the purchase of socially and environmentally responsible apparel. Considering the rapid growth of the cosmopolitan consumer segment, the globalization of the apparel industry, and the worldwide acceptance of sustainable lifestyle among young generations, could latent consumer orientations such as CCO carry ethical implications and predict consumers’ sustainable apparel behavior? Further, would the effect of CCO differ among young consumers from countries with different economic levels of development? To answer these questions, this study examined in an integrative conceptual model the effects of CCO on the intention to purchase sustainable apparel among young metropolitan consumers in three countries that differ in their level of economic development. Derived from the review of literature, a total of 13 hypotheses were developed upon the theory of planned behavior (TPB). This conceptual model provides the theoretical backbone to explain how emblematic determinants of purchase intention, such as attitude towards purchasing sustainable apparel, perceived norm, and perceived behavioral control (PBC), as well as CCO and apparel sustainability knowledge, affect the intention to purchase sustainable apparel. A sample of 965 responses in three countries was retained for hypothesis analysis (319 for the US, 294 for Ecuador, and 352 for India). Data was analyzed using Structural Equation Modeling. After confirming the six-factor structure and analyzing the goodness of fit of the measurement model, configural invariance and partial metric invariance were established in order to continue with structural model comparisons. Overall, the structural model supported the expected effect of CCO as a driver of sustainable apparel consumer behavior. The results of the path analysis provided full support for five, and partial support for two of the 13 hypotheses. The results showed that CCO, attitude towards purchasing sustainable apparel, and perceived norm significantly impact the intention to purchase sustainable apparel in the US, Ecuador, and India (H1, H7, H8 were supported). PBC’s effect on the intention to purchase sustainable apparel was insignificant (H9 was not supported), which presages that the capability and/or ability to purchase sustainable apparel does not seem to predict stronger young consumer intentions to purchase sustainable apparel. The strong CCO of young metropolitan US, Ecuadorian, and Indian consumers influenced their attitude towards purchasing sustainable apparel (H2 was supported), their apparel sustainability knowledge (H3 was supported); however, their CCO did not affect their perceived competence/adeptness to overcome barriers to carry out purchases of sustainable apparel (H6 was not supported). They perceived that CCO pressures them to comply to social norms in terms of purchasing sustainable apparel in the US and India (H5 was partially supported). In addition, the more knowledgeable the US and Ecuadorian consumers felt in apparel sustainability, the stronger attitude towards sustainable apparel they had, although in India the relationship was insignificant (H4 was partially supported). Young metropolitan consumers experienced practically similar influences independently of the economic standing of their nations (H10-13 were not supported). The results suggest that CCO uplifts young metropolitan consumers to be more receptive to apparel sustainability. Thus, this study expands current knowledge on the ethical discourse of consumer cosmopolitanism. It provides empirical quantitative evidence of whether the integrative model guided by the TPB can explain the phenomena of CCO effects. The proposed model is instrumental not only because it explains the positive effect of cosmopolitan orientation on consumers’ purchase intention of sustainable apparel, but also because it demonstrates that CCO reinforces apparel sustainability knowledge and attitudes towards purchasing sustainable apparel while pressuring consumers to comply with social norms under certain circumstances. Interestingly, CCO is not likely to impact current perceptions of barriers affecting purchases of sustainable apparel. By investigating differences in the strength of the relationships between CCO and purchase behavior determinants, this study provides a clearer understanding of the homogeneity of young metropolitan cosmopolitan consumers in advanced and developing economies. Additionally, this research fills a gap in literature by studying an almost neglected country in cross-cultural CCO literature (i.e., Ecuador). The study findings also provide managerial implications, such as the identification of a viable market segment of young metropolitan cosmopolitan consumers with a positive disposition towards purchasing sustainable apparel. Since the study suggests homogeneity among cross-national metropolitan young cosmopolitan groups, it is likely that consumer cosmopolitanization voids national level deficiencies (e.g., informational and economic deficiencies) of the privileged market segment selected for this study in the context of sustainable apparel purchase behavior. Furthermore, the results of this study imply the importance of selecting appropriate sustainable apparel retailing practices for young cosmopolitan consumers. As with any research study, this study is subject to limitations that present opportunities for future studies.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2021
Consumer Behavior, Cosmopolitanism, Cross-Cultural Studies, Emerging Economies, International Business, Sustainability
Cosmopolitanism $x Cross-cultural studies
Consumer behavior $x Cross-cultural studies
Clothing trade $x Moral and ethical aspects
Clothing trade $x Environmental aspects

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