A Study on the Consumer's Service Quality Perception Based on the Types of Life-style

소비자의 라이프스타일에 따른 서비스품질 지각 차이에 관한 연구

  • Park, Yoon-Seo (Dept. of Business Administration, Chonbuk National University) ;
  • Lee, Seung-In (Dept. of Business Administration, Chonbuk National University) ;
  • Choi, In (NongHyup)
  • Published : 2009.06.30

Abstract

For the last decades, service quality has been studied as one of the most important tools for a service company to compete with the other companies. Based on these past researches, it has been agreed that the service quality is a basic and powerful tool to create the competitive advantage. Due to similar reason, many service marketing practitioners have been also focused on the service quality to retain the existing consumers and collect the new consumers. However, service quality is subjectively perceived by individual consumers. Consumer evaluation of service quality can be different from each other. Especially consumers with one life-style may evaluate the service quality differently from the consumers with the other life-styles. Therefore we need to know whether there are differences in service quality perception on the categories of life-style. Life-style refers to a distinctive mode of living in its aggregate and broadest sense. It embodies the patterns that were developed and emerged from the dynamics of living in a society. Since the concept of life-style and its relationship to marketing was introduced in 1963 by William Lazer, methods of measuring the life-style and their application have been developed. Life-style has been usually used to segment the marketplace because it offers marketers a unique and important view of the market. When Life-style is combined with clustering methods, life-style segmentation can generate identifiable whole persons rather than isolated fragment. Life-style segmentation begins with people instead of products and classifies them into different life-style types, each characterized by a unique style of living based on a wide range of activities, interests, and opinions(Plummer, 1974). In this study we applies the life-style segmentation based on the AIO(Activities, Interests, and Opinions) to the consumers of the large discount stores. In Korea, the large discount store market has entered into maturity stage so that the market differentiation strategy is becoming a more critical issue to the marketing practitioners. One of the most important tools to differentiate from the competitors in large discount store market is continuously to provide service of better quality than competitors. This study tries to find answers about the following questions: 1) How can we categorize the consumer life-styles in the large discount store? 2) What are the characteristics of the categorized groups? 3) Are there any differences in service quality perception among the consumers with different life-styles 4) Are there any differences in consumer behavior among them in the large discount store? For the purpose, we collected survey data from consumers and analyzed the data with the SPSS package where we had $X^2$-test, factor analysis, ANOVA, MANOVA, and cluster analysis. The survey was made during one month in the April of 2008. Among the collected 306 copies of questionnaires, 281 copies were chosen as the effective samples for empirical analysis except 25 copies with wrong responses. To identify the life-style patterns, we used the measures employed by Kim and Kwon(1999), where 44 items on a seven-point scale were used to measure factors of the life-style patterns. The Principal Component Method was used for factor extraction, and the VARIMAX orthogonal factor rotation was employed. The 7 items showing low factor loading were eliminated. The results of the factor analysis suggested that nine factors of the life-style patterns were identified as follows: 1) the equality-of-sexes and pursuit-of-independence tendency 2) self-management tendency 3) sociable tendency 4) self-display tendency 5) degree of a dilettante life 6) pursuit-of-information tendency 7) bargain hunter tendency 8) TV preference tendency 9) pursuit-of-leisure tendency. Next, after the K-means cluster analysis was performed with nine factors of the life-style patterns, the life-styles of the respondents were classified into four groups which are named as the 'progressive practicality-oriented group', 'positive success-oriented group', 'sociable ostentation-oriented group', 'stable conservation-oriented group'. The analysis results for usage behavior between the market segments showed statistically significant differences in the frequency of usage, duration time in the store, consumer satisfaction, and loyalty. Also, we tried to investigate whether the large discount store consumers differently perceive the quality of service based upon the types of life-style. To measure the service quality of large discount store, we adapted several measurement models measuring the service quality such as SERVPERF, BCP, R-SERVPERF, R-BCP. MANOVA and One-Way ANOVA were performed to confirm the difference in service quality perception based on the market segments. The results have also shown significant differences between life-style types in service quality perception. These findings show that the large discount store marketers should consider consumer life-style as one of the most important market segments for marketing and understand the difference in service quality perception between life-style types. Our findings give important implications to marketers of large discount stores as well as life-style researchers. First, this study showed there were significant differences in consumer's service quality perception and usage behavior between the types of life-style. It provides evidence that the life-style approach can be a important basis in segmenting the large discount store market and will make consumers perceive the service quality high. Second, most previous researches on service quality have been in aggregate level. However, our results imply that the future research on service quality have to focus on segment level.