I recently read a study about how women bra shop in retail locations (not online) in China. “An Investigation of Intimate Apparel Buying Behavior among Fashion Conscious and Non-Fashion Conscious Chinese Hong Kong Female Consumers (pdf)” was written by Joanne Yip, Derry Law and Zoe Wong.
The study examined bra buying behaviors among women in Hong Kong, noting that the intimate apparel retail industry is changing. Aside from just considering the functionality of a bra, customers also consider the fashion element – we want something pretty!
Shown here, Calvin Klein
Perfectly Fit Plunge Bra.
Research Methodology: 234 questionnaires were used for data analysis. They were distributed to age 18-35 Chinese Hong Kong females in universities and shopping malls. 20 questions were included regarding the decision making process of each consumer. Respondents also categorized themselves as fashion conscious or non-fashion conscious.
Need recognition: The results showed that the main reason women shop for bras is to replace an existing bra which had lost elasticity or declined in appearance, or due to a change in bra size.
Fashion conscious consumers also said they bought bras for new seasons, fashion reasons and special occasions. Non-fashion conscious women were not prompted by these factors.
Even though most women wear a bra every day, an extensive search is still necessary before the purchase of each new bra.
BRAND: Women noted that they first tried on brands they had been happy with in the past to lower the risk of mis-purchase.
CUSTOMER SERVICE: Non-fashion conscious women were more concerned about customer service, because they were relying on correct measurements taken by salesladies to avoid mis-purchase. Both sets of women were uncomfortable in shops if the salespeople were too pushy.
INFORMATION: Fashion conscious women said they gain bra information from window shopping and reading advertisements in magazines and on subways. Non-fashion conscious consumers said they got most of their bra information from salesladies.
Both sets of customers thought fit, quality and price were the most important criteria when buying bras.
As lingerie makers realize the need for a more subtle push up or padded-bra to complement Asian figures, consumers are finding greater variety made especially for the Asian market.
M and S Asian-fit brand, launched in 1999, said in 2 years they accounted for 40% of their bra sales. Women in the US are more daring when showing cleavage, and wearing their push up bras to flaunt what’s up front. For Hong Kong women, the daring look is a bare back or off-the-shoulder, according to Japanese lingerie manufacturer Wacoal. (And when women are showing their shoulders, they need to pay more attention to their bust shape, or things may look out of balance.)