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Establishing psychological relationship between female customers and retailers: A study of the small- to medium-scale clothing retail industry

Dilini Edirisinghe (University of West London, London, UK)
Alireza Nazarian (Business School, University of Roehampton, London, UK)
Pantea Foroudi (Department of Marketing, Branding and Tourism, Middlesex University London, London, UK)
Andrew Lindridge (Newcastle University London, London, UK)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 6 February 2020

Issue publication date: 14 October 2020




The purpose of this qualitative study is to investigate how young female customers establish psychological relationships with small- to medium-scale retail stores over time forming purchase intentions, actual purchase patterns and repurchase behaviour. Role of various customer typologies was also considered.


A case study approach was implemented to collect and analyse data, where data was collected from 20 young female customers and ten clothing retailers using purposive sampling via semi-structured interviews. Interviews with customers were conducted in a place of their choice such as in a coffee shop, whereas data from retailers were collected in the retail stores. Both online and offline retail patronage was considered to incorporate the growing tendency towards online shopping. Results were analysed using thematic analysis.


This study managed to reveal a number of interesting findings on how female customers form and develop psychological relationships with clothing retailers over time that ultimately builds customer loyalty. Customer behaviour in pre-purchase, purchase and re-purchase stages can significantly vary according to their individual perceptions, whereas they have a few favourite clothing brands that they frequently shop for. Preference for online shopping was found to be minimal, most of them enjoying in store experiences. Further, word of mouth and unique designs emerged as key contributors in establishing retail brand loyalty.

Practical implications

This paper provides better insights for clothing retailers and industry practitioners in understanding how customer perceptions affect clothing purchase decisions.


This paper contributes to the retail literature by emphasizing on various elements that should be amalgamated through proper synthesis to serve customers. The research is unique as it analyses customer behaviour using a recreational activity model as opposed to marketing models to demonstrate how customers develop relationships with retail brands overtime.



Edirisinghe, D., Nazarian, A., Foroudi, P. and Lindridge, A. (2020), "Establishing psychological relationship between female customers and retailers: A study of the small- to medium-scale clothing retail industry", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 23 No. 3, pp. 471-501.



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