Ethnic fashion: an exploratory study of Chinese fashion consumer motivations for purchasing Tibetan-inspired clothing

  • Yu Qiu

Student thesis: Master of Science by Research


Chinese ethnic fashion industry has faced a number of dilemmas with regards to technology, product design and marketing. It could be said that both China's local ethnic/cultural resources and their manufacturing assets have not been put to full use. As a result, they have long been suppressed by the international apparel industry and foreign culture. A lack of interaction and effective communication between Chinese fashion brands and their consumers has led to ethnic fashion products struggling to find a place in China's mainstream market. In this context, this dissertation selects Tibetan ethnic clothing as a focal point. This study explores the motivation of Chinese consumers to purchase Tibetan-inspired clothing and analyses the value and path of its development. This research raises the question: how do consumers' perception of Chinese ethnic fashion and attitude towards Tibetan culture influence their purchase intention of Tibetan-inspired clothing? Firstly, this research has reviewed the literature on the Chinese consumer and ethnic fashion. However, the research has found that there is a lack of complete qualitative research on ethnic fashion consumer behaviour in the field of Tibetan fashion items, and there is little existing literature directly related to it. Consequently, in-depth interviews were conducted with 20 Chinese participants as a means of filling the research gaps. Respondents came from one of two groups; one of consumers and one of fashion experts where each group answered personalised questions. Data analysis of the transcripts showed that Chinese consumers' psychological factors have a great influence on their ethnic fashion consumption behaviour; the cognition of Tibetan-inspired clothing is closely related to their impression of Tibetan culture and consumers' purchase of Tibetan-inspired clothing is influenced by personal needs, social factors and cultural factors. The research findings concluded that many problems in the industry have negatively affected the willingness of Chinese consumers to purchase Tibetan fashion items, ranging from the production to the design of products and from communication of the brand to personal and environmental factors on consumers. Therefore, this study suggests a number of strategies to address these issues and latterly, proposes four points of reference value: Consider product design innovation more; Capture the essence of Tibetan cultural elements within marketing activities; Utilise social media and innovative store channels with more emotion; Finally, enterprises need to avoid common errors that may arise in planning, product design, and marketing.
Date of Award31 Dec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPatsy Perry (Supervisor) & Joanna Cartwright (Supervisor)


  • comsumer behaviour
  • Chinese fashion market
  • fashion marketing
  • Ethnic fashion

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