Exploring Department Store Offerings: A ZMET Study

PhD Thesis

Shang, B. 2023. Exploring Department Store Offerings: A ZMET Study . PhD Thesis University of Derby Derby Business School https://doi.org/10.48773/q2525
AuthorsShang, B.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDoctor of Philosophy

Department stores in the UK have faced challenging retail conditions, which were affected by the everchanging external retail competition such as out-of-town and online retailers. As the boundaries between different retail institutions have blurred increasingly with an inclining similarity of their commodity offerings, the multi-department one-stop shopping experience is no longer unique to department stores. But the department stores are nevertheless still regarded as the anchor of the high street due to their strong brand associations linked to their heritage, physical presence, and emphasis on service quality. However, it is not clear if these associations are still relevant, particularly as customers are increasingly adopting a hybrid online/offline approach to shopping. This study, therefore, adopts a customer-based brand equity (CBBE) lens to explore the key constructs that are valued by customers in the current turbulent retail environment.
This study was a mono-method qualitative study using Zaltman Metaphor Elimination Technique (ZMET). Data were collected from 24 UK high street department store shoppers in Derby using a cross-sectional time horizon. The use the of ZMET method elicited deep thoughts and feelings in the UK high street department stores by customers based on the participant’s choice of image. Thematic content analysis was used to analyse the data extracted from both the verbal interview, the participant’s choice of images and the montage created by the participants. A new onion model of customer-based brand equity (CBBE) in the current department store context was identified in this study, named customer-based department store brand equity (CBDSBE). This model showed that four out of Zaltman’s seven deep metaphors are more relevant to the current context, which are balance, resource, journey and connection. By identifying these deep metaphors, brand managers would gain in-depth understanding of their customers, and thus, establish enhanced marketing strategies accordingly. This study also identified that brand accessibility was a new construct that emerged from this study that contributed to the customer-based department store brand equity. It was identified that the department store provided access to the participants where they could access the individual brands, the physical products, and the experiences available at a department store. The outcomes of this study argued that the department store is not reaching the end of its lifecycle. It is suggested that a new definition of the department store is needed, which would ultimately distinguish the department store from its competitors who offered similar commodities and re-establish competitive advantage in the current turbulent retail environment by enhancing its customer-based department store brand equity.

KeywordsZMET, Department Stores, Customer-Based Brand Equity, Retail Life Cycle
PublisherCollege of Business, Law and Social Sciences, University of Derby
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.48773/q2525
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Deposited17 Oct 2023
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