Retail Buyer Behaviour

Debenhams operates 97 stores throughout the UK and Ireland, with seven international franchise stores. Debenhams has followed a stragtegy based on organic growth investigating heavily in modernising and expanding its store portfolio. Debenhams wants to have 106 domestic market stores by the end of 2006. The company has changed its product mix and positioning, putting strong focus on fashion and introducing many new aspiration contemporarary designer brands and there own highly designed own labels. In 2000/01 Debenhams out performed its competitors and gained its market share. (Mintel.com)

What Debenhams main emphasis is to create consumer demand for their variety of clothing in store, by attracting consumers in order to increases sales of high margin lines, bulk purchases i.e. purchase for all the family, this will enhance their store image by conveying impressions of good prices compared to rival competitors in the city. Debenhams have chosen exclusive merchandise to attract all consumers from all ages i.e. purchasing for their partners and children’s to come and buy our products and also come back again and tell others (word of mouth). This strategy is to gain customer loyalty.

According to Gilbert (1999) the location is often the most important consumer behaviour consideration in a customer’s decision of where to shop. The Debenhams store we are investigating is the main town centre that attracts hundreds of consumers on a day-to-day basis because of the location. The store is designed to reflect the particular values of the locality, requiring design differentiation within the chain stores (Wallendorf et al, 1998) Cited in McGoldrick 2002 p455

Debenhams products offers is quite heavily skewed better than many of its rivals, Debenhams revenue is based around 1.3 billion to 1.4 billion mark during there toughest period of 1998 to 2000. Consistent strategy and market conditions have helped achieve an impressive 15.4% increase in sales driving it forward to 1.6 billion in 2000/01. The strong advance has driven because consumer’s transaction values have increased. The Designer Labels at Debenhams have captured a greater proportion of the sales. (Mintel.com)

Debenhams target market concentrates on clothing than any other leading departmental store in the UK. The company focuses on women swear, children wear, and menswear. There has been a substantial growth in sales on fragrances, cosmetics, home ware and gifts and the company is focusing on expanding the gift and cosmetic offers.

Debenhams also features its own mix of designer labels including 500 international brands. In 2000/01 a new media entertainment department had been introduced to the larger stores because of consumer demand for audio and visual products. Debenhams had introduced its own brand called Lecson, which offered television and DVDS. The majority of Debenhams stores also have a restaurant or cafe for their consumers to enjoy a good shopping experience.

Debenhams own brand accounts for 50% of their turnover. Their biggest label itself accounts for 18.5% of total sales particularly homeware and women’s fashion accessories (mintel.com). According to Cotler (1997) he defines a brand as a name, term sign, symbol or design or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those competitors. Debenhams is established by a classical brand for women’s formal wear and this is now going to be extended with a collection of new ranges for women clothing. Debenhams is focusing on its own brand premium make up and skin care range MEA, which has become one of its best selling brands. However Kapferer (1992) produces the more esoteric statement a brand is not a product, it is the product essence, it meaning and its direction, it defines its identity in time and space. Consumer like to shop at Debenhams retail outlets to purchase the brand on most occasions or on a regular basis, because this sort of characteristics is known as store or brand loyalty, in other words the consumer feels positively about what they purchase at store. Customers buying behaviour can vary depending on their buying situation, even when demographics and life style remain unchanged i.e. Consumers will shop at Debenhams, but also go to rival competitors.

The new focus of branding is to create naturally beneficial situations, to find the correct right brand mix for the consumer while generating adequate sales is a challenge for Marketers in the 1990’s (Allen 1993) says as consumers become more price sensitive, the brand itself loses some importance. However, the issues are more focused on sales and profits.

Brand Names have become the most valuable assets for the majority of companies across the globe. Consumers view a brand as an important part of a product and branding has added value to the product.

The commitment to the brands success is encompassed in it advertising. In the increasingly competitive market place, advertising, marketing and promotion may be the only things that differentiate extremely similar products. (Coonan 1993)

Debenhams has also 40 exclusive private labels including casual club clothing, Maine New England, Le Vrai Gourmet and main new England homeware. When Debenhams introduced the Maine new England menswear in 1995 to womens and children wear the sales extended to 90 million in 2000/01 which was an increase of 40% on the previous year. The Osborne shirt and tie range is also been extended to jackets and trousers to see an increase in sales. (Mintel.com). We can see that there is a high level of consumer brand awareness and loyalty and because the brand names carry high credibility these company’s can defence against fierce price competition from competitors. According to (McGoldrick 2002 p244) shoppers frequently wish to visit several stores on one shopping trip, there has been some study’s of consumer tendencies to link store visits.

Debenhams has a catalogue and Internet shopping facility for their customers. The company produces a catalogue twice a year with 500 pages, as well as three smaller catalogues to complete one main one. These catalogues offer seasonal merchandise to consumer. Currently Debenhams is in joint venture with freeman PLG who distribute and make the catalogues. Over 50% of merchandise offered in the catalogue is womenswear and 20% homeware. The Debenhams direct group are presence in areas, which have no stores, and give the consumer the opportunity of choice of purchasing bulk items like furniture. (Mintel.com)

Debenhams website www.debenhams.com has operated for the last 3 years and offers over 5000 product lines. This website attracts around 115,000 vistors a month. There is also a wedding gift service, which can be accesses through the store and call centres.