Consumer involvement Theory - CIT - is one way to understand the psychology and behavior of your target audience.
There are others, including consumer research, but none quite so quick, simple and insightful.
The idea behind consumer involvement theory is simply this: that there are two main forces that drive most purchase decisions.
- One is the time and energy an individual devotes to making the decision.
- A second factor is the degree to which emotion or reason - feelings or logic - influence a purchase decision.
Here's specifically how CIT works:
The High / Low involvement scale refers to how much time, thought, energy and other resources people devote to the purchase process, from a lot to a little.
The Emotional / Rational scale is a measure of reason vs. impulse, desire vs. logic, passion vs. prudence. That sort of psychological stuff.
There are four general CIT categories:
- High involvement / emotional
- High involvement / rational
- Low involvement / emotional
- Low involvement / rational
Infographics are one type of medium to present information for Hi Involvement / Rational purchase decisions.
High involvement / rational
In this category you find expensive business purchases: anything relating to the technological infrastructure, the office location and lease, as well as the company health insurance plan.
On the consumer side, high involvement / rational purchases tend to be linked to high cost. This category can include financial services and products, the purchase of a home or car, as well as major appliances and electronics.
That said, high involvement consumer purchases can vary significantly on the rational / emotional scale from individual to individual. For Ms. Smith, a car is strictly a way to get to work, she does extensive comparative research, and her selection is based on fuel economy and reliability. it's a Hi/R purchase. For Mr. Wilson, a car is an important expression of his status and ego. It's a Hi/E purchase.
Your task is to determine how the majority of your target market relates to the purchase of the particular product or service.
For both B2C and BtoB markets, advertising for Hi/R purchases tend to be copy driven, with clear explanations of features and benefits. Explainer videos, slideshow and infographics can work well - as can information rich websites.
High involvement / emotional
Business purchases that fall into this category might include such things as office furniture and design, advertising and design, and perhaps even the hiring of certain employees.
For individuals, high involvement / emotional purchases can include jewelry, weddings, and holiday travel plans - as can the purchase of a home or car. Again, much depends on the culture, person, and how much purchasing power she has.
Advertising in this category tends to focus on visual and emotional appeals. Above all, that means emotionally evocative music, sounds and visuals. Media considerations include highly interactive websites as well as information kits with DVD / video and brochures.
Low involvement / rational
These are the things we buy out of habit, without much thought. This category includes most of the things you put into your basket at the drug store or market. The places you eat lunch, say the local McDonald's. And office supplies.
Here the typical role for advertising is to get people to switch - to break the automatic habit of spending their money with the competitor. Consider coupons and other incentives. Free samples can work well. Also, look at ways to differentiate or re-position the product. Give the audience compelling reasons to give your service a try.
Low involvement / emotional
The gratification we get from these products is emotional or sensual. But that gratification is fleeting; it doesn't last a long time. So we don't spend a lot of time thinking about the purchase. Movies, candy, an entertaining magazine, or a birthday card fall into this category. For some, selecting a restaurant for a special occasion.
The advertising challenge here tends to be the promise of pleasure, of gratification, of a sensually rewarding experience. Strong positioning can help, especially in a crowded product category. But the message should be snapped quickly with strong visuals and powerful video. Movie trailers are a good example of approaches that can work.
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