Consumer preference structure analysis. A managerial tool for understanding apparel catalog market competition


  • William J. McDonald

    Search for more papers by this author
    • WILLIAM J. MCDONALD is an assistant professor of marketing and international business in the business school at Hofstra University He earned his PhD degree from the University of Chicago. His articles have appeared in journals, books, and national conference proceedings. Dr. McDonald's research interests include direct marketing methods and strategies, marketing analysis and research methods, marketing information systems, and the social and psychological aspects of consumer behavior.


This article discusses a research tool for marketing strategies–Consumer Preference Structure Analysis–as an illustration of how direct marketers can benefit from an understanding of the patterns in consumer choice behavior. From purchasing histories and product attribute ratings, this innovative strategic marketing tool defines a hierarchy of buyer preferences and market competition. An analysis of findings from a mail survey of 565 women apparel buyers indicates that switching patterns between catalogs and catalog attribute ratings define a hierarchy of directly and indirectly competitive apparel catalogs. This leads to an explanation for consumer priorities in the women's apparel catalog market and, more generally, to an appreciation of how buyer behavior patterns and attribute ratings can be analyzed.