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In the last two decades, retailing structures have undergone significant and sweeping changes. Technological developments and market conditions, combined with relatively affluent, highly mobile, and increasingly time-scarce consumers, have all played important roles in affecting retail changes (Anderson, 1993). However, the proliferation of regional shopping malls and other types of shopping centers is probably one of the most notable changes in the past two decades (Carlson, 1991). Consequently, one of the greatest challenges facing the regional shopping mall is that the shopping center industry is operating at over capacity and in decline. This is partly attributable to aging shopping centers as well as to the fact that, on average, patrons are spending less time and money shopping (Carlson, 1991; Pacelle, 1996; Shermach, 1996).
As competition among regional malls increased, the design and tenant mix of shopping malls was changed to attract both retailers and consumers by a strong theme appeal to consumers' aesthetic sensibilities as well as to their functional shopping needs (Carlson, 1991). Consequently, regional shopping malls began to serve as venues for stores that attract shoppers whose annual incomes are significantly higher than the U.S. median income (ICSC Research Quarterly, 1996; Roy, 1994). In recent years shopping center marketers have also pursued a variety of specialized strategies designed to appeal to underlying consumer motives other than functional needs. The creation of entertainment, themed, and ethnic centers is a good example of marketing efforts developed to draw new customers to regional shopping malls. However, the effectiveness of these varied marketing formats has yet to be proven (Haynes and Talpade, 1996; Shermach, 1996; Pacelle, 1996).
The primary purpose of this study was to use the hierarchical value-attitude-behavior model as the means to assess consumer attraction to regional shopping malls. More specifically, we examined whether or not shoppers' underlying personal values influenced their mall shopping attitude and behavior. In this study mall shopping attitude was defined as shoppers' attitude toward salient location, atmosphere, cultural mix, retail mix, product mix, and promotion attributes of regional malls. It was assessed by shoppers' cognitive belief toward and affective evaluation of those attributes. Mall shopping behavior was defined as the extent to which consumers shopped at regional malls and was measured by the frequency of mall visits and the typical amount of money spent per shopping trip.
Understanding the underlying factors influencing consumer attitude and patronage behavior in the mall environment can help retailers and developers define the character of regional malls in ways that serve to enhance mall patronage by meeting basic consumer needs and desires. That personal values function as grounds for making behavioral decisions, particularly consumption behaviors, has been well established (e.g., Carman, 1977; Williams, 1979). Yet there is scant research devoted to the importance of personal values as an influence on retail shopping behavior. With this study, we hope to contribute to the limited body of scholarly research vis-a-vis retail shopping in mall settings (Bloch, Ridgway, and Dawson, 1994) and to provide retailers and mall managers with insight into how an understanding of consumers' value-attitude-behavior relationship can be integrated into mall marketing programs.
Since personal values are, in part, consequences of culture and ethnicity (Phinney, 1992; Rokeach, 1973), a secondary objective for the study was to determine whether shoppers' ethnic group membership and ethnic identification play a role in influencing personal values, which, in turn, may affect their attitudes and behavior in the context of mall shopping. Regional malls located in the southwest represented a suitable location for the study due to the rapid development of shopping malls in this region in recent years and its high concentration of Hispanic populations (ICSC Research Quarterly, 1995).
Research Related to Retail Shopping Centers and Shopper Characteristics
With the rapid growth of retail shopping centers over the past three decades, researchers and practitioners have approached mall patronage research from varied perspectives. Location has always been an important factor in attracting patrons to a shopping area. The most widely accepted location theory is central place theory (Craig, Ghosh, and McLafferty, 1984), which views shopping areas as commerce centers to which consumer households must travel to obtain needed goods and services. In general, central business districts and regional shopping centers that offer higher-order goods and services or an agglomeration of both have demonstrated an ability to draw customers from greater distances than neighborhood centers that offer only lower-order goods and services. Research based on central place theory employs economic utility models that incorporate factors such as distance or travel time and the size of a center to express the relationship between costs and benefits of shopping area choice (Huff, 1962; Ghosh, 1986; Louviere and Gaeth, 1987; Weisbrod, Parcells, and Kern, 1984).
Over the years, some researchers have challenged the basic utilitarian premise of location models by arguing that the attraction of a retail facility involves dimensions other than distance and mass. Bucklin was one of the first researchers to argue that the drawing power of a retail site is also influenced by socio-economic and demographic consumer characteristics (1967a) and by consumers' image perceptions of the store or shopping area (1967b). Nevin and Houston (1980) and Gentry and Bums (1977-1978) extended site location research by incorporating image as a component of attraction to shopping areas. Their results showed that, while image as determined by assortment characteristics was important for influencing shopping intentions and behaviors, it did not increase the predictive ability of utilitarian location models.
Simultaneously, other researchers examined the cognitive processes of consumers as underlying determinants of retail patronage. For instance, studies showed that, based on perceptions of shopping center attributes, consumers who patronized shopping malls fell into two shopping orientation groups: recreational and economic/convenience (Bellenger, Robertson, and Greenberg, 1977). These findings were confirmed by other studies demonstrating that reasons for shopping in malls vary from utilitarian needs to social interaction and recreation (Bellenger and Korgaonkar, 1980; Bloch et al., 1994; Bloch, Ridgway, and Nelson, 1991; Feinberg, Scheffler, Meoli, and Rummel, 1989; Jarboe and McDaniels, 1987; Roy, 1994).
Although much research has focused on shopping orientations and image perceptions to gain insight into mall shopper characteristics, there are few studies investigating the role of personal values as an influence on shopping behavior in the mall environment. Nevin and Houston (1980) suggested that consumers' attitudes toward a shopping area can be influenced through effective communication of an area's image. Since personal values are widely acknowledged as the underlying determinants of consumer attitudes and behavior (Homer and Kahle, 1988), we propose that a value-based approach will provide additional insight into consumer patronage of shopping malls.
Values, Attitudes and Behavior
A value is "an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end-state of existence" (Rokeach, 1973, p. 5). Values are responsible for the selection and maintenance of the goals (or ends) toward which individuals strive, while simultaneously regulating the manner in which this striving takes place (Vinson, Scott, and Lamont, 1977). Values have been found to affect various aspects of consumption behaviors and attitudes (e.g., Becker and Connor, 1981; Donthu and Cherian, 1992; Prakash and Munson, 1985; Valencia, 1989; Vinson et al., 1977).
According to Homer and Kahle (1988), previous researchers held that values, explicit or implicit, function as grounds for behavioral decisions in general and consumption behaviors in particular (e.g., Carman, 1977; Williams, 1979). The means-end chain model also predicts that such consumption behaviors as product selection and retail shopping patterns are means to achieving desired end states or values (Gutman, 1982; Reynolds and Gutman, 1988).
Kahle (1980) argued, however, that values have only an indirect effect on consumer behavior through less abstract mediating factors such as domain-specific attitudes. According to Homer and Kahle (1988, p. 638), …