The Influence of Image Congruence and Perceived Fit on e-Store Patronage Intention for Multichannel Apparel Retailers
Chang, Jae Youn
Type of Degreethesis
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As online retail sales continue to grow, consumers are turning to the Internet in ever increasing numbers. Despite the prevalence of retailers’ e-stores and the importance of online branding, there exist few studies on the relationship between a retailer’s brand image and its e-store image as it relates to the success of online branding. Therefore, the first goal of this study was to examine the effect of the congruence between a multichannel retailer’s symbolic brand image and e-store image on consumers’ e-store patronage intention, which is mediated by perceived e-store/brand fit. Consumers tend to evaluate favorably brands which have similar (congruent) images to their self-images. This self-image congruence plays a pivotal role especially in fashion branding since clothing can be worn for symbolic and emotional expressions. Thus, the second goal of this study was to investigate the effect of the congruence between multichannel retailers’ e-store image and consumer self-image on consumers’ e-store patronage intention, which is mediated by perceived e-store/self fit. Six hypotheses were tested using survey data from a national sample of 458 U.S female consumers. Results revealed that (1) a multichannel retailer’s e-store-image/symbolic-brand-image congruence positively influenced consumers’ e-store patronage intention; (2) perceived e-store/brand fit offered a full mediation for relationship between e-store-image/symbolic-brand-image incongruence and e-store patronage intention; (3) the greater the e-store-image/self-image congruence, the higher the e-store patronage intention; (4) perceived e-store/actual-self fit completely mediated the relationship between e-store-image/actual-self-image congruence and e-store patronage intention; (5) perceived e-store/ideal-self fit played only a partial mediating role between e-store/ideal-self incongruence and e-store patronage intention; and (6) perceived e-store/self fit is a stronger predictor of e-store patronage intention than perceived e-store/brand fit. This study expanded the findings of previous literature on the significant roles of image congruence and perceived fit in consumer behavior through providing empirical support for the applicability of the image congruence and perceived fit constructs in understanding consumers’ patronage intention for a multichannel retailer’s e-store. The current study expands the applicability of the stimulus-organism-response model by introducing image congruence as a stimulus variable and perceived fit as an organism variable which lead to e-store patronage intention (the response variable). Through the findings of this study, multichannel apparel retailers can obtain an insight concerning how they should plan and develop their e-stores by integrating their offline and online store images as well as by designing their e-store images to match the self-image of their target consumers.