Is consumer informedness always beneficial to the consumer?


(Stylebook, 2013)

This week, most of our readings revolve around consumer informedness and the added value this offers to consumers as well as firms. A sector in which this becomes questionable is fashion, and this especially for women. In this blog, I will try to analyze the new trend of various fashion apps. The pressing question here is: Is consumer informedness really beneficial to the consumer?

Somehow women especially, have a sweet spot for new clothes, shoes, and accessories. However much they buy it will never be enough, as fashion changes as well as one’s likes. In the recent years many new fashion apps have been created. Below I will summarize their purpose and features, the first impression the give, and the actual behavior that may result from their usage.

First we have the kind of apps which “organize” you closet by giving you various information on your clothes and wearing behavior. These apps include “Style Book”, “TouchCloset”, and “Dressapp, your fashion calendar”. In these apps you can catalogue your closet, by taking pictures of your individual clothes, shoes, and accessories and categorize them. You can also keep track of when you have worn certain outfits, how much they originally cost you, and following what the average cost per wear was. You can plan your outfits ahead, thereby also scheduling when you need to wash or dry-clean them. Most of these apps allow you to making packing lists, and sort your closet by seasons. In some apps, such as “Cloth” you can even share favorite outfits on a website, to inspire other users. Certain apps such as “Stylecaster” even have an integrated weather function, through which it advises consumers what is appropriate clothe to wear. Your first impression of these apps may be “wow I really need this!”. You may think that it will finally help you give you an overview of what you have and what you can wear. It actually has the effect though, of women realizing for what season or occasion they actually don’t have enough choice yet. Also you may think that if you wore a T-shirt so often, then it is definitely worth it to buy a new one, because the price per wear is actually very low. You will always identify things you do not have yet, which you of course “desperately” need. Of course you regard information selectively, using the gap of what you have and what you should have according to the app, thereby increasing your consumption.

(stylebookapp, 2014)

Secondly, you have apps in which you can share your closet with a selected friend group, such as “Share Closet” or “Kanzee”. Such apps offer different features, such as allowing you to keep track who you lend certain clothes to, and who you borrowed what from. They may even give you reminders on giving clothes back, or not lending borrowed clothes to a third party. These apps may give you the impression that you reduce consumption, because you share, but in the end you will probably again increase it. This is because, instead of seeing your friends as a free clothes source, you see them as a source of inspiration – you borrow their close to see whether they suit them, and later you then buy similar models yourself.

Taking it to the next level, you have apps such as “Stylish Girl” which are a mixture of the two options above. Additionally they add the feature of making a wish-list of the fashion items that you still would like to have. You can directly shop online from this app, as well as share clothes and outfits with friends via various social networks. This add-on will increase consumption immensely, as the buy-option is only “one-click away”.

And lastly, you have apps that help you shop. They range from simple apps as “ShopStyle”, on which you can browse through 2,000 accumulated brands by topic, or “Gilt Groupe” which is especially focused on different bargains, to more advanced apps that ask for feedback from a community while shopping. An example of this is “Go Try It On” or “Love it or Lose it”, where you can upload a picture of you in the potential outfit and get an immediate response from people in the community. Again, you will probably gain more inspiration of “must-haves” here then reducing your personal buys to “the” perfect outfit.

In conclusion, I therefore want to question you whether consumer informedness really leads to their best consumption behavior? Of course they will find what they truly like, but therefore they will also find a lot more than they need. Especially the last app, with reviews from friends and family, can become a major consumption increase variable in the future. Facebook researched in 2011, that “71% of [the] respondents [in a survey] said reviews from family members and friends ‘trump all’ when it comes to influencing purchases” (McNaughton, 2011). This would be a clear indicator that consumers connectedness with family and friends through the internet can become the major factor to increase purchases for companies. This would then also not be constrained to the Fashion market, but to any B2C online platform.

Questions to readers:

Do you agree with the perhaps negative side to consumer informedness?

Are there certain clothes which you would classify as a commodity item according to Dellaert et al. (2014)?

Sources:

Appcrawler, 2014. Stylish Girl – Your fashion closet and style shopping app. [Online] Available at: http://appcrawlr.com/ios/stylish-girl-your-fashion-close

Bauknecht, S., 2013. Share closet app will help people swap or sell clothing, jewelery, accessories. [Online] Available at: http://www.post-gazette.com/life/fashion/2013/03/26/Share-Closet-app-will-help-people-swap-or-sell-clothing-jewelry-accessories/stories/201303260239

Closet+, 2014. Closet+. [Online] Available at: http://closetapp.com/

Cloth, 2014. [Online] Available at: http://www.clothapp.com/

Dellaert et al., 2014. Consumer informedness and firm information strategy. Information Systems Research, 25(2), pp. 345-363.

Indvik, L., 2010. 25 iPhone Apps for the Mobile Fashionista. [Online] Available at: http://mashable.com/2010/09/14/best-fashion-apps-iphone/

McNaughton, M., 2011. New Shopping App Lets Facebook Friends Help You Decide. [Online] Available at: http://therealtimereport.com/2011/11/15/new-shopping-app-lets-facebook-friends-help-you-decide/

Morel, F., 2013. The 5 best fashion apps and sites to help you organize your closet. [Online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/15/best-fashion-app-sites_n_4053617.html

Pan, J., 2012. Manage your closet with these five fun fashion apps. [Online] Available at: http://mashable.com/2012/07/13/closet-management-apps/#gallery/manage-your-closet-with-these-five-fun-fashion-apps/50bddf2331829755b10002fe

Patterson, L., n.d. The 10 fashion apps. [Online] Available at: http://fashion.about.com/od/media/tp/fashionapps.htm

Share Closet, 2014. About Us. [Online] Available at: http://www.sharecloset.net/about.html

Sharkey, L., 2013. The 10 best fashion apps. [Online] Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/fashion-beauty/the-10-best-fashion-apps-8518422.html

Slashmobility, 2014. Dressapp, your fashion calendar. [Online] Available at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.slashmobility.dressapp&hl=en

Stylebook, 2013. [Online] Available at: http://www.stylebookapp.com/features.html

stylebookapp, 2014. Stylebook (Digital Fashion Closet) iPhone & iPad App Demo. [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VE5FDrY6Ky0 [Accessed 23 September 2014].

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One response to “Is consumer informedness always beneficial to the consumer?”

  1. 358527gj says :

    While most research related to consumer informedness is merely focused on studying the effect of informedness and how it positively relates to more precise consumer preferences, I would like to highlight the negative effect of consumer informedness. As Li et al. (2014) already noted, there might be a possible inverted-U shaped relationship between the amount of information and a consumer’s utility. One of the consequences of higher consumer informedness is the fact that people are more aware of all the products available. This might be favorable in cases when you want to make a careful decision on buying an expensive product, but when doing groceries one might become overwhelmed by the variety of cereals available.

    Botti and Iyengar (2006) argue that consumers might face lower confidence when confronted with more choices. Additionally they might purchase products that make them less happy but on which they have spend more money than initially planned. The authors also noticed that although consumers perceive increased choice as desirable, their well-being decreases once confronted with a variety of products. Various other researches have studied these effects, such as psychologist Schwartz who describes the problem of too many options as a choice paralysis. Schwartz also discusses the situation in which consumers are in the end less satisfied with the decision made.

    To my mind more consumer informedness is not necessarily beneficial. The more we know about the variety of different dresses available, the harder it will be to make a choice. In this online century we are not limited anymore to the local shops that offer dresses, but we are able to import any dress we like from for example the United States. Add to this the information we gather from apps such as Go Try It On” or “Love it or Lose it” about what our friends think we should wear and it will become even harder to find a dress we truly like. Whether this is a problem of too many information available or simply too many products in the market might be a different challenge.

    References
    Botti, S & Iyengar, SS 2006, ‘The dark side of choice: when choice impairs social welfare’, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, vol.25, no.1, pp.24-38.

    Dellaert et al., 2014, ‘Consumer informedness and firm information strategy’, Information Systems Research, vol.25, no.2, pp. 345-363.

    Hedges, K 2012, The Surprising Poverty of Too Many Choices, ForbesWoman, viewed 24 September 2014, .

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