Consumers don’t necessarily go through all the buying stages when they’re considering purchasing product. They have probably think about many products they want or need but never did much more than that. At other times, they probably look at dozens of products, compare them, and then decided not to purchase any. They sometimes can even skip stages 1 through 3 and buy products on impulse. Purchasing a product with no planning or forethought is called impulse buying.
Impulse buying brings up a concept called level of involvement—that is, how personally important or interested you are in consuming a product. For example, you might see a roll of tape at a check-out stand and remember you need one. Or you might see a bag of chips and realize you’re hungry. These are items you need, but they are low-involvement products. Low-involvement products aren’t necessarily purchased on impulse, although they can be. Low-involvement products are, however, inexpensive and pose a low risk to the buyer if she makes a mistake by purchasing them.
Consumers often engage in routine response behavior when they buy low-involvement products—that is, they make automatic purchase decisions based on limited information or information they have gathered in the past. For example, if you always order a Diet Coke at lunch, you’re engaging in routine response behavior. You may not even think about other drink options at lunch because your routine is to order a Diet Coke, and you simply do it. If you’re served a Diet Coke at lunchtime, and it’s flat, oh well. It’s not the end of the world.
By contrast, high-involvement products carry a high risk to buyers if they fail, are complex, or have high price tags. A car, a house, and an insurance policy are examples. These items are not purchased often. Buyers don’t engage in routine response behavior when purchasing high-involvement products. Instead, consumers engage in what’s called extended problem solving, where they spend a lot of time comparing the features of the products, prices, warrantees, and so forth. High-involvement products can cause buyers a great deal of postpurchase dissonance if they are unsure about their purchases.
Companies that sell high-involvement products are aware of that postpurchase dissonance can be a problem. Frequently they try to offer consumers a lot of information about their products, including why they are superior to competing brands and how they won’t let the consumer down. Limited problem solving falls somewhere in the middle. Consumers engage in limited problem solving when they already have some information about a good or service but continue to search for a bit more information.
Brand names can be very important regardless of the consumer’s level of purchasing involvement. Consider a low- versus high-involvement product—say purchasing a tube of toothpaste versus a new car. You might routinely buy your favorite brand of toothpaste, not thinking much about the purchase (engage in routine response behavior), but not be willing to switch to another brand either. Having a brand you like saves you “search time” and eliminates the evaluation period because you know what you’re getting.
When it comes to the car, you might engage in extensive problem solving but, again, only be willing to consider a certain brands or brands. For example, in the 1970s, American-made cars had such a poor reputation for quality, buyers joked that a car that’s “not Jap (Japanese made), is crap. ” The quality of American cars is very good today, but you get the picture. If it’s a high-involvement product you’re purchasing, a good brand name is probably going to be very important to you. That’s why the makers of high-involvement products can’t become complacent about the value of their brands.
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Topic: Comparison of High Involvement Consumer Decision Making with Love Involvement Decision Making
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