Consumer Involvement Theory

Topics: Advertising, Marketing, Advertising research Pages: 7 (2557 words) Published: March 13, 2011
a) Take a theoretical topic we have covered over the five weeks and explore it in more detail critiquing the theory and illustrating those critiques.

Consumer Involvement Theory

There exist many varying theories on consumer involvement and its effect on consumer behaviour. Essentially, consumer involvement is ‘a process, or processes by which interested and affected individuals are consulted and included in the decision making of an agency, planning group or collaborative entity’ (Creighton 1981). In marketing, consumer involvement is often equated to perceived product importance. Although ‘consumers’ involvement in products is believed to considerably moderate their reactions to marketing and advertising stimuli’ (Kapferer and Laurent 1985), ‘there is little agreement on what cognitive processes correspond to variations in involvement, or on the consequences of these variations for communication effectiveness’ (Greenwald and Leavitt 1984). The writings of Krugman were instrumental in introducing the idea of ‘involvement’ to consumer behaviour. He was perplexed with ‘knowing that advertising works but being unable to say much about why’ (Krugman 1965) and for this reason he began investigating the theory. ‘His definition of involvement is based on the number of connections a person makes between a communication and something existing in their life.’ (Muncy and Hunt 1984) Krugman believed that there were two ways of experiencing or being influenced by mass media: ‘one way is characterized by lack of personal involvement…the second is characterized by a high degree of personal involvement.’ (1965) He also stated that both types of involvement could be associated with effective advertising, however, that this advertising would have to take different routes. Finally, Krugman was of the opinion that the concept of involvement concerned ‘bridging experience, connections, or personal references’ (Ibid). Scholars have taken Krugman’s work as a stepping-stone to developing their own theories on involvement. Some authors believe Krugman’s two levels of involvement to be too constrained, Laurent and Kapferer believe that ‘as it stands now, involvement theory may be over simplified’ (1985), These scholars feel that there are more than two different types of involvement and many more antecedents to involvement. For example, the Laurent and Kapferer Scale is a four-faceted consumer involvement profile, ‘these facets are importance/interest, sign value, pleasure value, and risk.’ (Mittal 1995) Whereas Mittall has argued that ‘only importance/interest is involvement proper’ and that ‘the other three facets are its antecedents’ (Ibid) because they do not need to be present for an object to be involving. For example, ‘hedonic value of an object is one of the antecedents to involvement, but it is not an essential antecedent’ (Ibid) because involvement can incur without hedonic content. A washing machine is important and the purchase of such an item does incur risk, however, for most people nowadays, it does not have sign value nor does it bring pleasure. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the Laurent and Kapferer scale was developed in 1985 when washing machines were not as common and when they did perhaps bring pleasure because they relieved people from washing their clothes manually.

Greenwald and Leavitt have written that there were four levels of involvement and that advertisement should be tailored to each of these levels in order to obtain the best purchase results. These levels of involvement are elaboration, comprehension, focal attention and preattention. They believe that ‘the presence of a mild distractor may occupy enough attentional capacity to interfere with cognitive responding, while still permitting comprehension’ (1984) and that the distractors in advertising should be increased or decreased depending on which level of involvement the advertisement is aimed at. These distractors could be...
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