Consumers’ Evaluation of the Quality of Custom-made Garments Manufactured by Micro and Small Scale Enterprises in Sekondi/takoradi Metropolis, Ghana

ABSTRACT

 

This study evaluated the quality of custom-made garments produced by Micro Small Enterprises (MSEs) in the Sekondi/Takoradi Metropolis of Ghana. Using the mixed method approach with multi-stage and convenience sampling techniques, 410 consumers and 36 manufacturers were sampled for the study. The data were collected using focus group discussions, a questionnaire and in-depth interviews. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the qualitative data from the focus group discussions and in-depth interviews while the Pearson‟s correlation coefficient was used to test the relationships between variables in the quantitative data obtained from the questionnaire. The results from the focus group discussions identified four (4) attributes namely: aesthetics, construction/workmanship, finishing and customers service used by consumers to evaluate the quality of their custom-made garments. Analysis of data derived from the questionnaire showed that consumers had high expectations of their custom-made garments with regard to the attributes (aesthetics, construction/workmanship, finishing and customers service) that were identified and they were equally pleased with the garment‟s performance during use and care. Thus, consumers were satisfied with the quality of the custom-made garments made by MSEs in the garment industry. However, a gap analysis based on a comparison of expectation and performance of custom-made garments within the expectancy disconfirmation theory revealed that expectations were higher than the performance regarding all the garment attributes (aesthetics, construction/workmanship, finishing and customers service) identified from the focus group discussions, indicating that consumers were generally dissatisfied with the quality of their custom-made garments. The findings also revealed that most consumers did not seek redress from manufacturers after the dissatisfactory performance of their custom-made garments.

 

 

 

The findings from the in-depth-interviews with manufacturers indicated that majority were using obsolete machines that could affect the quality of custom-made garments produced. Additionally, manufacturers were using skills they acquired through apprenticeship many years ago without any continuing professional development training. It is recommended that manufacturers implement strategies such as offering to do alterations, providing a customer service hotline for consumers, among others. This may encourage dissatisfied consumers to provide feedback on the performance of their garments for the assurance that their complaints would be handled. Manufacturers should continually improve their skill by attending seminars organised by formal institutions both public and private like NVTI and Technical Universities periodically to improve their skills. These may help MSEs manufacturers to produce garments that are of good quality. Finally, manufacturers should be educated by stakeholders like academia and garment production associations on the attributes identified in this study, as knowledge of these attributes will help them produce garments that satisfy the needs of consumers of custom-made garments.

CHAPTER ONE

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

1.1   Background to the Study

 

The garment industry worldwide is affected by the ever-growing global market, which has influenced consumers to constantly distinguish between products and services when choosing what they believe will meet their expectations. Wang (2012) stated that consumers‟ demand for quality products and services has produced a shift in the focus from the market share to consumer share, in an effort to provide what consumers want. The extent to which a product fulfils a consumer‟s needs and wants is determined by its quality (Pizam and Ellis, 1999). For the reason that consumers are a resource, without which no business can survive (Gocek and Beceren, 2012). Garment manufacturers need to understand consumers and satisfy their distinct preferences in order to survive in a competitive environment (Du Preez, 2003). Consumer satisfaction is important for every business as it improves existing consumer loyalty, repurchases and awareness of the people about the business, as satisfied consumers spread positive word of mouth about the product (Matzler and Hinterhuber, 1998; Dubrovski, 2001; Gocek and Beceren, 2012).

 

 

In Ghana, it is very common for consumers to get garments custom-made. This desire for custom-made garments signifies consumers‟ need to be different in this era of globalization (Foreman, 2007). Existing literature on garment quality (Eckman, Damhorst and Kadolph, 1990; Heisey, 1990; Hines and O‟Neal, 1995; Forsythe, Presley and Caton, 1996; North et al., 2003; De Klerk and Tselepis, 2007) focused more on ready-to-wear and mass-customised garments. Additionally, many of the studies concentrated on one particular quality dimension, such as aesthetics (De Klerk

 

 

 

and Lubbe, 2004), fit (Tselepis and De Klerk, 2004; De Klerk and Tselepis, 2007;), or a particular group of attributes like intrinsic attributes (Forsythe et al., 1996; Fiore and Damhorst, 1992), and extrinsic attributes (Teas and Agarwal, 2000). Worldwide, very limited attention has been given to the subject of custom-made garment even though getting custom-made garments is a popular phenomenon.

 

1.2   Custom-made Garments’ Production in Ghana

 

Consumers normally formulate certain expectations before acquiring a product  against which they later assess the performance of a product to decide whether satisfaction has occurred (Kincade, Redwine and Hancock, 1992; Chen-Yu, Williams and Kincade, 1999). According to Pizam and Ellis (1999), the consumers‟ subjective perception of quality is very important in identifying the consumers‟ needs and ensuring consumer satisfaction. Thus, garment manufacturers who make custom- made garments have the benefit of distinguishing themselves by focusing on providing for the individual needs and wants of consumers, which is something that large garment manufacturers may overlook. Custom-made garments can be defined as made from scratch and made-to-measure garment (Harrop, 2010). Such garments are measured, cut, sewn and fitted for specific individuals (Brown and Rice, 2014).

 

 

Custom making garment is about uniqueness (Koskennurmi-Sivonen and Pietarila, 2009), since it caters for consumers with special sizes that are not easily available in ready-to-wear garment shops (Harrop, 2010). This offers many benefits for persons with heavier builds, slighter builds, tall, short and asymmetric body proportions (Makopo, 2014). Thus custom-made garments can guarantee better fit and individual style than mass produced garments (Peterson and Gordon, 2001).

 

 

 

Consumers who patronize custom-made garments are mostly motivated by their need for high quality garment which can be difficult to find in the market, a need for a garment for special occasions, or a need for unique fitting (Bye, 2010). Consumers who approach businesses that provide custom-made garments expect that their unique quality needs and preferences will be satisfied (Peterson and Gordon, 2001). Furthermore, since custom-made garments require more financial investment from the consumers who order them, it would be normal for them to expect such garment to be of high quality (Foreman, 2007; Koskennurmi-Sivonen and Pietarila, 2009). For the purpose of this study, a custom-made garment shall refer to any garment that is produced by MSEs garment manufacturers‟, according to certain specifications that will conform to the consumer‟s body shape and unique preferences such as style.

 

 

Garment firms in Ghana, are located in „every corner‟ of the country especially in urban centres producing garments for both local and international markets. Majority of garments firms in Ghana operate as MSEs (Ampofo, 2002). There is a wide range of definitions for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and the distinction and classification criteria differ among countries (Storey, 1994). The context of differentiation ranges from size, number of employees, annual turnover, ownership of business and value of fixed assets (Abor & Adjasi, 2007). The definition of small business is difficult and there is no consensus in the literature as to what constitutes a small business (Stanworth and Curran, 1981; Ibrahim and Goodwin 1986). In Ghana, there is generally no accepted definition for MSMEs. Various institutions and stakeholders have their own definitions to suit their operations. The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) considers firms with less than 10 employees as Micro Small Scale Enterprises and firms with more than 10 employees as Medium and Large-Scale

 

 

 

Enterprises (Afful, 2010). However, for the purpose of this study, the researcher used the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), an apex body established by Act  434  of  1981  for  promoting  small-scale  industries‟  definition.  NBSSI  (2015) defines Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) as enterprises whose employment capacity is 29 or fewer workers. Micro enterprises are those that employ between 1-5 people with  fixed  assets  not  exceeding  10,000  USD  excluding  land  and  building. Small enterprises employ between 6 and 29 or have fixed assets not exceeding 100,000 USD, excluding land and building (NBSSI, 2015).

 

 

MSEs in the garment industry in Ghana consist of small-scale tailors and dressmakers established as one person businesses and are located in kiosks by the roadside whiles others operate in their homes (Fianu & Acquah-Harrison, 1999). They also have a long tradition of making custom-made garment using ordinary dressmaking techniques where professional work adapts to consumer specifications rather than aiming at the manufacturer‟s own artistic expression or other design ideas (Koskennurmi-Sivonen & Pietarila, 2009). These tailors and dressmakers recruit mainly female apprentices who learn to sew and at the same time help the tailors and dressmakers with their sewing business (Fianu & Acquah-Harrison, 1999). Skills that are used in the local garment industry have been transferred from one generation to the other and even though there is the introduction of advance technologies, out dated local techniques are still in use (Quartey, 2006).

 

 

The Ghanaian consumer, in the past, had often been limited to cheap, poor-quality, unbranded products in many categories (Kuffour, 2008). However, through globalisation, Ghanaians have been increasingly exposed to Western styles of

 

 

 

garments. Consequently, since the mid-1990s consumer preferences have gradually moved   away   from   „African   style‟   to   „Western-style‟   garments   (Gough   and Langevang, 2010). Whereas previously MSEs manufacturers were the main provider of garments, there are now several alternative sources (Gough and Langevang, 2010). Trade liberalisation has resulted in the importation of ready-made garments, especially from the Eastern countries like China, which not only provide the style of garment in demand but are also cheaper than local custom-made garments (Gough and Langevan, 2010). Another source of garments is the booming second-hand garment industry, which imports garment from Europe, America and Korea (Gough and Langevang, 2010). Second-hand garments are generally of higher quality and often preferred to a new garment. It has been estimated that around 95% of Ghanaians buy second-hand garment (Baden and Barber, 2005). These alternative sources of imported garments have resulted in a severe drop in the demand for custom-made garments because although MSEs manufacturers can make western-style garment, the cost is generally higher and the quality may be poorer (Baden and Barber 2005). According to Langevang and Gough (2012), the problems MSEs manufacturers face is not only the volume of garment being imported but the quality of the garments being made by them. Ampofo (2002) is of the view that even though MSEs are the main sources of garment production in Ghana currently, they continue to lose large orders notably as a result of the absence of marketing skills, inefficient production techniques and poor quality goods.

 

 

MSEs in the garment industry need to be efficient in order to succeed. Part of being efficient is to be aware of consumers‟ expectations and be able to satisfy them. When consumers are dissatisfied with the product‟s performance, it can lead to complaints,

 

 

 

boycotting a business, negative word-of-mouth and even taking no action but remaining angry (Day, 1984; Kincade et al., 1998; Chen-Yu et al., 1999; Donoghue, De Klerk and Isaac, 2012;). Negative word-of-mouth, is a common reaction to dissatisfaction which includes telling friends and family about a negative experience with a manufacturer and warning them not to make a purchase from the same manufacturer (Bougie, Pieters and Zeelenberg, 2003; Zeelenberg and Pieters, 2004). Research has revealed that dissatisfied consumers share their experiences with twice as much people as satisfied consumers (Loudon and Della Bitta, 1993; Dubrovski, 2001; Rad, 2011). Thus, negative word-of-mouth can be harmful to a business, as the business can lose the chance to resolve a bad situation, this can subsequently lead to loss of sales and profits. (Soscia, 2007; Rad, 2011).

 

1.3   Quality

 

Quality is the assessment of a product based on an assortment of product attributes (Schiffman & Wisenblit, 2015). However, individual consumers perceive stimuli within their owe psychological make-up (Schiffman & Wisenblit, 2015) thus consumers from different countries might differ in their quality perception, as some consumers from developing countries have lower quality expectations than those in developed countries (Jin & Bennur, 2015). Schiffman & Wisenblit, (2015) said that all consumers evaluate the quality of a product based on their intrinsic (physical attributes) and extrinsic attributes (attributes that are not integral to the product). Garments quality can be defined by aesthetic, functional, mechanical and physiological properties of wear such proper drape and fit (Solomon & Rabolt, 2009). For the purpose of this study however, garment quality would refer to a garment that satisfies the needs and wants of a consumer.

 

 

 

Consumers, who perceive products to be inadequate in satisfying their needs, will possibly, not purchase those products, (Schiffman & Wisenblit, 2015) suggesting that an evaluation of quality occurs before a purchase. However, after a purchase, consumers also evaluate the utility of the product based on consumers‟ perceptions of what is given and received (Wu, Chen, Chen & Cheng, 2014). The evaluation of perceived quality is based on the intrinsic and extrinsic attributes and it occurs during pre-purchase as well as post purchase stage of acquiring a garment (Coelho, 2016). Thus, consumers‟ evaluate a product‟s performance based on their prior expectations (Schiffman & Wisenblit, 2015). During these evaluations, certain product attributes are known to be important in the perceived performance of a product and their relative importance might differ amongst consumers (Hoyer & MacInnis, 2007). The garment industry might inaccurately focus its attention on attributes that are insignificant if there is lack of knowledge regarding quality attributes used to guide consumer purchasing decisions (Hugo & Van Aardt, 2012). Manufacturers of garments must ensure that they develop and implement a consumer-oriented product-specific approach (Hoyer & MacInnis, 2007), which aims at improving consumer experience and satisfying consumers‟ needs (Klaus & Maklan, 2013).

 

 

1.4   Garment Attributes

 

Garment attributes are benchmarks that have an influence on consumers‟ evaluation of garments. These benchmarks include care requirements and product composition (Hugo & Van Aardt, 2012) as well as physical and performance features (Brown & Rice, 2001). These garment attributes are grouped into four main categories, namely: intrinsic, extrinsic, appearance and performance attributes (Brown & Rice, 2001). Intrinsic attributes include physical features of a product that cannot be changed

 

 

 

without modifying the manufactured product for example sizing or fabric (Brown & Rice, 2001), whereas extrinsic attributes, for example brand and price have features that can be changed without modifying the product (Brown & Rice, 2001; Swinker & Hines, 2006). Appearance attributes are features that affect the product‟s appearance. They include colour and fit. Performance attributes relate to how the product functions for instance ease of care (Swinker & Hines, 2006).

 

 

There are not many studies done on Ghanaian consumers‟ application of attributes to assess garment quality. However, Tsyewu (2013) did a study on the influence of Constructional Factors on the Serviceability and discard Of Custom-Made garments among female students in the University of Cape Coast. There was only one international study that focused on the evaluative criteria female consumers in South Africa used with regard to custom-made garments (Makopo, 2014). As a result, consumers‟ needs with regard to garment attributes used to evaluate the quality of custom-made garments were not known and this could possibly mean that their needs are not being completely fulfilled. When consumers‟ needs are not met, their wellbeing is compromised (Coelho, 2016). Therefore a need exists to investigate consumers of custom-made garments with regard to criteria applied when evaluating garments produced by MSEs in the garment industry since this is how most consumers in Ghana acquire their garments. This may then lead to recommendations about garment attributes, which, when used properly, could lead to consumer needs being satisfied.

 

 

 

1.5   Statement of the Problem

 

The majority of Ghanaian consumers obtain their garments custom-made. The choice of  custom-made  garments  indicates  consumers‟  need  to  be  different  in  this  age  of globalisation. Existing literature on garment quality is focused on ready-to-wear and mass-customised garments. There is very limited attention worldwide on the subject of custom-made garments. As a result, consumers‟ needs with regard to garment attributes used to evaluate the quality of custom-made garments were not known and this could possibly mean that their needs were not being completely fulfilled. There is therefore a need to investigate consumers of custom-made garments with regard to attributes applied when evaluating garments produced by MSEs in the garment industry since this is how most consumers in Ghana acquire their garments. This study aims at: identifying the attributes used by consumers to evaluate the quality of custom-made garments, exploring and describing their expectations and perceived performance regarding the quality of custom-made garments, the accompanying emotions resulting from satisfaction and dissatisfaction as well as the post-order behaviours that they engage in.

 

 

1.6   Aim of the Study

 

The aim of the study was to assess consumers‟ use of attributes to evaluate the quality of custom-made garments produced by MSEs in the garment industry.

 

 

1.7   Objectives of the Study

 

The specific objectives of the study were to:

 

  1. Determine the attributes that consumers used to assess the quality of custom-made garments.

 

 

 

  1. Identify consumer expectations and performance of custom-made garments produced by
  2. Investigate consumers‟ reaction when satisfied/dissatisfied with the quality of custom-made garments produced by MSEs during
  3. Ascertain the methods employed by manufacturers in identifying and satisfying consumers‟ quality

 

 

1.8   Hypotheses

 

The hypotheses of the study were:

 

Ho1: There is no significant relationship between quality and overall satisfaction with custom-made garments.

 

 

Ho2: There is no significant relationship between consumer expectations and performance with custom-made garments produced by MSEs.

 

 

Ho3: There is no significant relationship between overall satisfaction and emotions felt with the performance of custom-made garments produced by MSEs.

 

 

Ho4: There is no significant relationship between consumers‟ emotions and post-order behaviour when satisfied/dissatisfied with custom-made garments.

 

 

1.9   Significance of the Study

 

It was expected the study would:

 

  1. Provide insight into the quality attributes that consumers use when assessing custom-made garments, as well as their relative importance to individual

 

 

 

  1. Help custom-made garment manufacturers understand the meaning of quality from the consumers‟ point of view in order to produce custom-made garments to satisfy consumers to bring about consumer loyalty and retention.
  2. Ascertain practices that contribute to poor and good quality garment

 

  1. Identify factors that contribute to the satisfaction/dissatisfaction of consumers for custom-made garments so that manufacturers can find avenues to improve the consumers‟
  2. Help manufacturers in the MSEs understand the role emotions play in post-order behaviour of consumers of custom-made
  3. Add to the body of knowledge on the quality of custom-made garment produced by MSEs in Ghana which can be used for teaching, research and outreach programmes in the area of clothing and

 

 

1.10    Definition of Terms

 

In the context of this study the following terms were defined as follows:

 

  1. Client/Consumer/Customer: These words would be used interchangeably. It refers to person/persons who acquires custom-made garments from MSEs manufacturers.
  2. Consumer Behaviour: Consumer reaction after being satisfied/dissatisfied with the quality of their custom-made
  3. Custom-made Garments: Any garment produced for a customer by MSEs using the specification that conforms to a customer‟s body dimensions and unique preference such as
  4. Garment Quality: The quality of a garment is the attributes that determine the satisfaction of a consumer with regard to his/her needs and

 

 

 

  1. Manufacturer: A tailor or dressmaker who sews custom-made garments. The words manufacturer, tailor and dressmaker will be used
  2. Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs): Enterprises whose employment capacity is 29 or fewer workers. Micro enterprises are those that employ between 1-5 people with fixed assets not exceeding 10,000 USD excluding land and building. Small enterprises employ between 6 and 29 or have fixed assets not exceeding 100,000 USD, excluding land and building.
  3. Overall Satisfaction: Consumer satisfaction/dissatisfaction with the quality of custom-made
  4. Post-Order Behaviour: Consumer behaviour after assessing the performance of the final

 

 

1.11    Structure and Organisation of Thesis

 

The thesis was organized into five chapters. Chapter One consisted of the background to the study, research problem, research objectives and hypotheses, significance of the study and finally the scope of the study. Chapter Two was mainly review of the literature relevant to the objectives of the study, theoretical underpinning and conceptual framework of the study. Chapter Three was about the description of the study area and the research methodology whilst Chapter Four presented the study results and discussion of the findings of the study and analysis and testing of hypotheses. Chapter Five however presented a summary of the main findings of the study, conclusion and recommendations as well as limitations of the study and implications the study has for policy and education.

 

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References

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