The authors used categorization theory to guide research on apparel quality. Respondents were females, 150 students and 55 nonstudent adults, who wrote at least three sentences about the quality of (a) apparel and (b) a blouse. Using content analysis, four classifications were formed to describe the criteria attributes: aesthetic (e.g., stylish), usefulness (e.g., versatile), performance (e.g., does not shrink), and extrinsic criteria (e.g., brand name). Aesthetic and performance criteria accounted for 81% to 83% of criteria mentioned. When the data were pooled, respondents generated more criteria to classify blouse quality than to classify apparel quality. Furthermore, criteria for blouse quality were mentioned more often than criteria for apparel quality suggesting that, at the aggregate level, respondents used blouse quality as a basic level category. However when data were analyzed separately by consumer experience (e.g., age), differences in categorization schemes were found. These results have implications for merchandising strategies that focus on quality.

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