A Qualitative Exploration of Perceptions, Shopping Motivations, and Demands of Plus-size Women: an Ethnic Approach

Delisia Matthews, Laurel Romeo


Current retail industry figures note a growth in the women's plus size market. This increase has especially been evident with the increase in the sales of women's plus-size clothing. Given this increase, it is important for apparel retailers to grasp an understanding of the unique apparel needs plus-size women may posses. In addition, past research has shown that certain ethnicities may view being categorized as plus-size more positively than others. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to gain a holistic understanding of the plus-size experience, and examine how this experience impacts their behaviors, shopping motivations, apparel demands, and ethnic perspective. A qualitative study was conducted to assess these topics, and primary data collection was executed through semi-structured, in-depth interviews of 31 plus-size females who purchased plus-size clothing, size 14 and above, within the past six months. Upon data being collected, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed thematically, three key themes were identified: (1) Evolution of Society Against Plus, (2) Size & Ethnicity Matter, and (3) Separate But Not Equal to Missy. Each theme aided in describing the distinct experience of the plus-size female consumer. This paper, in turn, provides apparel marketers and retailers knowledge that will help them better target their plus-size offerings to better suit their customers.

Full Text: