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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 503-509

The effect of gestational age on women's preference for quality goods

1 Department of Management Sciences, University of Gujrat, Sialkot, Pakistan
2 Department of Psychology, University of Gujrat, Sialkot, Pakistan
3 Department of Gynecology, Sialkot Medical College, Sialkot, Pakistan

Date of Submission25-Jan-2018
Date of Acceptance09-Dec-2019
Date of Web Publication4-Apr-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. M A Ahmed
Department of Management Sciences, University of Gujrat; Office: A-108 Al-Farabi Block, Hafiz Hayat Campus, University of Gujrat
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/njcp.njcp_40_18

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Background: It is a well-established fact that hormonal changes significantly influence the consumer behaviors and their purchase intentions. However, attention to the conspicuous buying due to the mood swings, as a result of hormonal changes, during the pregnancy have been largely ignored in the literature. Aims: The current research aims to examine the prospective association of conspicuous purchase intentions with hormonal changes and mood swings during the pregnancy. Methods: An experimental procedure was used to assess the data collected from pregnant women (n = 116) and the hypotheses were analyzed using recall probability and recall position measures. Results: The hormonal changes during the pregnancy were analyzed in three stages known as pregnancy trimesters suggested by the relevant literature (Trimester-1 = 39, Trimister-2 = 36 and Trimester-3 = 41). The respondents were exposed to visual attention of specifically designed images with a unique combination of the status and functional products. The ROC values for Trimester 2 is higher in all 4 graphs (0.923, 0.960, 0.892, and 0.923) respectively than Trimester 1 and 3. Conclusion: Findings revealed that the women purchase preferences shift as pregnancy move from one trimester to another. Women pay more attention to status products during the 2nd trimester as compared to 1st and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy.

Keywords: Conspicuous buying, experimental design, hormonal variations, mood swings, pregnancy cycle

How to cite this article:
Ahmed M A, Akram B, ul Haq M A, Ahmad R, Ahmad M. The effect of gestational age on women's preference for quality goods. Niger J Clin Pract 2020;23:503-9

How to cite this URL:
Ahmed M A, Akram B, ul Haq M A, Ahmad R, Ahmad M. The effect of gestational age on women's preference for quality goods. Niger J Clin Pract [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Sep 18];23:503-9. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Pregnancy is known as a special period with a lot of excitements full of certain natal and hormonal changes leading to varied physical and psychic outcomes. Literature suggests that these changes can be well studied by the period of 3 months known as pregnancy trimester.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5] The first trimester (0-13 weeks) starts with pregnancy symptoms e.g. nausea, fatigue, morning sickness, headaches, and constipation due to the hormonal changes that create significant psychological and emotional effects.[6] The first trimester is marked with higher levels of anxiety and depressed mood due to nausea and morning sickness and women in early pregnancy stages are reported to have adverse psychological effects.[7],[8],[9] The second trimester (14 to 27 weeks) is marked with comfort and referred as the “golden period” of pregnancy. This is due to normalization of hormonal and psychological and emotional effects of pregnancy. The women in this trimester have better mental health-related quality of life.[10],[11] The third trimester (week 28-40) is the final stretch of pregnancy and have higher physical changes in the body of pregnant women e.g. shortness of breath, hemorrhoids, urinary incontinence, varicose veins and sleeping problems and there are frequent visits to doctors.[3] This trimester is also considered emotionally and psychologically vulnerable analogous to the first trimester with higher anxiety, when compared with the second trimester.[12] The research in the area of hormonal changes and their impact on individual psychological swing, decision making, and motivation is well established, e.g. estrogen and progesterone play an important role in human physiology, hormones modulate the risky behavior, Cortisol refers to stress hormone and affects the psychological wellbeing, Oxytocin affect the trust level, Progesterone is often called the “feel-good hormone” and plays an important role in brain function and mood enhancing, and hormonal changes effect the both brain and behavior.[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18]

Furthermore, these hormonal changes create imbalanced mood and emotions and ultimately lead toward the indecisive behavior due to weak decision making conditions and low purchase intentions. Because, moods and emotions are regarded as the key contributor in the decision making process.[19] Especially, the emotions, which have longer duration are referred as moods, have specific implications of individual intentions and decision making.[20],[21],[22],[23] There are a number of implications regarding emotion and decisions making reported in the consumer behavior literature, e.g. emotions and perception of risk taking, effect of emotions on risky behavior, feelings and consumer decision making, interaction of emotions and cognition and its effect on consumer behavior, emotions effect consumption pattern, emotions help to formulate attitude towards advertisement, emotions influence judgments and choices and considered as an important driver of decision making and emotions may create different purchase responses.[23],[24],[25],[26],[27],[28] Similarly, the menstrual cycle research highlights e.g. change of economic rationality and preferences as function of menstrual cycle, women attention to status clues fluctuate across menstrual cycle, women prefer variety in rewards and increased variety seeking during ovulation, women prefer revealing clothes, pay more attention to luxury products during ovulation, women self-perception and motivation change near days of ovulation, menstrual cycle affect the product preferences, women's consumption preferences are augmented during the late follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, and also menstrual cycle affect the prosocial behavior.[18],[28],[29],[30],[31],[32],[33],[34]

Based on aforementioned literature, this research infers that if the changes during menstrual cycle contribute in decision making, product preferences and purchase patterns of the individuals, then the pregnancy cycle may also have a significant contribution in decision making and product preferences, as pregnancy is reported to have 30 times higher hormonal changes and increased psychological swing as compare to the menstrual cycle.[1],[35],[36],[37] This provides ample opportunity to analyze the women decision making and purchase intentions towards the functional and status products during pregnancy.[38],[39] This research contributes in the following ways in the existing body of literature: (1) Help to explain how women respond to status products during pregnancy, and (2) Help to understand the variations in hormone and psychological swings within the three trimesters of pregnancy and their relative impact on women product preferences. The following hypothesis are proposed for this study: (H1) There is a significant difference in women's attention towards status products during the three trimesters of pregnancy, and (H2) Women are more attracted towards the status products during their 2nd trimester of pregnancy.

   Methods Top

This experimental research is conducted with the help of Gynecologists and their staff after obtaining the ethical clearance from the departmental research and review committee (DRRC) to conduct the study. Pregnant women, from both public and private hospitals, are approached to participate in the study. The ethical concerns are highly maintained in this research; no personal and institutional identities are disclosed. The participant and supporting staff are fully aware about the experiment. However, the consent of the participants always is the first priority to maintain the ethical research standards. Total 126 pregnant women participated in this research. Cochran formula[40] (n=Z2pq/e2) was used to calculate the sample size recommended for unknown population with a desired level of precision (e), confidence level (Z), and the estimated proportion (p^) of the attribute present in the population. In this study, with experts' opinion, 3% population proportion for surrounding population of hospitals were considered with e = 3% Z = 95% and Using these values, the minimum sample size 124 was obtained. The women's pregnancies were divided into 3 trimesters with respect to their pregnancy week. There were two categories of products used in the experimental research: 1. Status products, and 2. Functional products. The examples of each product category are given in the [Table 1].
Table 1: Respondents' information and nature of products

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The participants were briefed about the experimental procedure and their consent to participate in the study was taken. In the next phase, each participant was provided a response sheet containing general information, e.g., age, pregnancy week, number of pregnancy, and financial condition of the participants. The respondents were exposed to 10 computerized visual displays. In each display, images of 6 products were sequentially arranged as suggested by Roskos, Ewoldsen and Fazio and each display containing a combination of one status product (Car, Watch, Diamond Ring, Bag, House, Mobile, Bed, Shoes, Perfume and Smart TV) and five functional products (Comb, Mug, Towel, Chair, hanger, bin, etc.) randomly arranged in a circle.[41] Each display was exposed for 2 seconds, and respondents were given 20 seconds to register what they had seen. This exercise is carried out 10 times with each participant by showing 10 displays. The product position in the cards is also an important aspect of the experiment. Similarly, the position of status products is managed in a scientific way. This activity means to minimize the chance of bias.

The response sheets were collected and the probability of recalling the status products, and functional products was analyzed. The recall probability of status products and functional products was evaluated by calculating the proportion of their relative recalls divided by the total number of products in each category. In case of status product, the recall probability was calculated by measuring the number of status products recalled divided by 10. Similarly, in case of functional products, the recall probability was measured by the number of functional products recalled divided by 50. For example, if a participant recall 7 status products from all visual displays, her recall probability is 0.7 (7 divided by 10), and if she recalls 10 functional products, her recall probability is 0.2 (10 divided by 50).

The recall position of products on each display was determined by analyzing the recall responses registered by the respondents after viewing the ten displays. The position score of the status products was calculated by accumulating the reverse ordinal position of each product (status product or functional product) in which it was recalled. The status product was assigned the reverse ordinal scores between 4 and 0. If the status product is recalled in the first position, then it is awarded 4 scores, if at second, then 3 scores and if at last or either not recalled, then 0 score is assigned. Similar to the recall position of status products, the functional products recall position is also determined by the reverse ordinal scoring method. The functional product is scored either 4 or 0, because the number of functional products is higher than the status products, and in case the first choice of the participant is the status product in any display then second choice is definitely the functional product. To keep in mind such thing the scores are allotted 4 and 0. The scores of both status and functional products are summed (score of each display and there are total 10 displays) and transformed into a single accumulative recalled position score, which is used for further analysis. In the next step, the total recalled score is divided by the total number products recalled in the display. The score determiner, which product, either status product or functional product was recalled earlier and received intentions from the participant to buy.

   Results Top

The frequency of pregnant women's participation in this study, according to their trimester, is 39 participants in trimester 1, 36 participants in trimester 2, and 41 participants in trimester 3. The responses gathered from the participants are arranged according to the pregnancy week fall under each trimester.

Therefore, in the following graphs, the 116 responses are sequentially arranged as Trimester-1 = 39, Trimister-2 = 36 and Trimester-3 = 41. [Graph 1] and [Graph 2] depict the fluctuation of women's attention toward status and functional products according to their trimesters. In Trimester-1, the participant's attention towards functional products and their recall probability are much higher than the status products. Similarly, their functional product call position is also higher than status products. Trimister-3 shows almost similar results as Trimester-1. However, participants of Trimester-2 present more attention and recall probability toward status products as compared to the functional products. Similarly, their status products' call position is also higher than functional products.

Furthermore, the results are presented in the bar chart format [Graph 3] and [Graph 4] to enhance the understanding of the comparative analysis. In the bar chart, the blue color represents the status products, and green color represents the functional products recall probability and call position. Bar charts are based on the mean score of the recall position and recall probability of the status and functional products. The bar charts also depict that in Trimester 1 and 3, the participants recall probability and call position for functional products is significantly higher than status products. However, the Trimester 2 bar charts show the higher recall probability and call position of participants for status products than the functional products.

The aforementioned results are further substantiated and validated by employing Neural Network Analysis technique. This analysis tool is marked as the powerful classifier that helps to study the categorical or dichotomous variables. The Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve with area under cover is considered as a sophisticated and valid way to present the results among the output produced in the Neural Network Analysis technique. The area under cover is measured to determine whether the significant difference exists along the categories or not. The threshold value for significant difference must be 0.7 or above.[42] Data of the study is analyzed with this technique, and the four ROC curves are presented in [Graph 5], [Graph 6], [Graph 7], [Graph 8]. These graphs clearly indicate the difference of probability of status and functional products and recall position of status and functional products along the three trimesters of pregnancy. These results are significantly proved with the values of area under cover, as the values are above or close to the value 0.7. The values of area under cover also determine the strength of significant difference among the categories. Therefore, the ROC curves show that there is a significant and moderated strength of difference exists across the 3 trimesters (trimester 1, 2, and 3) of pregnancy. The values for Trimester 2 is higher in all four graphs (0.923, 0.960, 0.892, and 0.923, respectively) than trimester 1 and 3. This shows that the Trimester 2 is significantly different than the Trimester 1 and 2. The both hypotheses presented in the section 3 are validated by the results of this study that there is a significant difference in female attention towards status products during the three trimesters of pregnancy, and women are more attracted towards the status products during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy.

   Discussion Top

This study depicts that women's attention to the status, and functional products fluctuate during the entire pregnancy cycle. The differences in the recall probability and products' call position are measured by dividing the pregnancy cycle into 3 trimesters. The results suggest that hormonal changes during the pregnancy directly contribute to the status signaling and attention to the nature of the products. The previous studies suggest that the hormonal changes are more severe in the first and third trimesters. Therefore the pregnant women face substantial behavioral, psychological and emotional changes during these two trimesters. These changes result in the mood swings and affect the decision making process. The results show that during these trimesters' women's attention to the status products are very low. Their recall probability and product call position for functional products is much higher than the status products. Study findings reveal that hormonal changes during these two trimester results in a depressive mood, anxiety, psychological and emotional disturbance that affects their cognitive process and decision-making ability. Therefore, their mind retains products with higher utility rather than the products having high status signaling. These results are aligned with the finding of aforementioned studies.[1],[3],[6],[7],[8],[9],[12] In the second trimester, women have better mental condition due to normalization of hormonal and psychological and emotional effects of pregnancy.[10] These findings reveal that women in the second-trimester show more attention to the status products as compared to the functional products. Therefore, it reflects that attention to the status products directly linked to the stability of mood, emotion and better mental health. These findings are aligned with results of previous studies.[20-23,43] These results are also consistent with menstrual cycle literature that during the fertile period, women are more attended towards the status products, and the women spend money on gifts for loved ones during the luteal phase.[29],[44],[45] The results of this research are also similar to the evolutionary lens, e.g. mating, menstrual cycle and pregnancy on consumer behavior.[34],[45],[46] similar to other good researchers, this research also has limitations. The research only analyzes women's attention to the status and functional products during the pregnancy which consists of three trimesters. The research follows the experimental research procedure and controls the other factors that may contribute in the decision making of the women, e.g. demographical variables and economic status of the participants. Future research may focus on the role of these demographic factors on the women's decision making during the pregnancy. As the study design is cross-sectional in nature, in the future, the longitudinal design may lead to some other results.

Furthermore, similar experiments are needed to carry out in some other contexts with an increased number of participants to generalize the study in hand. Future research may also focus on relationship-building intentions of women and how they value the relationship-building marketing efforts during pregnancy. These findings have relevant and important contribution in the consumer behavior literature. Similarly, this is the strength of the study that it linked the missing part of consumer behavior literature with the hormonal changes during the pregnancy and reveals that these hormonal changes affect the women's product preferences. The marketing managers need to incorporate these issues while devising the marketing strategies for the products marketed to the women's segment. They need to link the loyalty cards with pregnancy cycle information and market the products according to the pregnancy weeks. This provides them an excellent opportunity to market functional products during the first and third trimester and status products during the second trimester of the pregnancy. Similarly, a good understanding of moods and emotional swings during the pregnancy cycle may be well-responded to reinforce the loyalty of the women customers.


We are grateful to all the participants who participated in the study, and to the Gynecologists, Medical Officer and staff of Public and Private Hospitals, Gujrat for facilitating this experiments and providing the technical support.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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