Does formality matter? Effects of employee clothing formality on consumers' service quality expectations and store image perceptions

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Kittichai "Tu" Watchravesringkan, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Purpose The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, this study aims to understand whether and how sales employee clothing style would influence consumers' perceptions of store image through their expectations of service quality. Second, this study hopes to uncover how fashion orientation would influence the aforementioned relationship.Design/methodology/approach A 3 (formality of employee clothing: formal vs moderate vs casual) × 2 (level of fashion orientation: low vs high) between-subject experiment design was conducted. Data were collected from 105 university students in a laboratory setting.Findings Results indicated that formality of employee clothing (i.e. formal business, moderate, or casual attire) served as a cue in the retail environment for consumers to make inferences about the service quality expected to be provided by the sales employee. Furthermore, formality of employee clothing both directly and indirectly influenced consumers' perceptions of store image.Research limitations/implications This study adds to existing literature by uncovering the moderating role of fashion orientation in consumers' service quality expectations and confirms the function of service quality as an antecedent to store image.Practical implications Retailers should pay attention to the design of their salespeople's clothing because different clothing styles draw forth different evaluations from customers about the service quality provided in retail stores.Originality/value This study investigates the role of clothing formality in influencing consumers' service quality expectations.

Additional Information

International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, 39(5)
Language: English
Date: 2011
employees, clothing, fashion, customer services quality, stores and supermarkets

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