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Eric Arnould, University of Nebraska
George Zinkhan, University of Georgia
Linda Price, University of Nebraska

Why Do People Buy? Needs, Motivations and Involvement

eLearning Session

  1. Learning Objectives
  2. After completing this chapter, you should be able to:

    1. Explain why people buy and consume the things that they do and discuss the meaning of and relationship between consumer needs, wants, and motivations.
    2. Appreciate the diversity of human motivations and understand the relationship between motives and culture.
    3. Identify four classic approaches for accounting for human motivation and derive managerial applications from these theoretical approaches to motivation.
    4. Describe some research methods for identify motives.
    5. Discuss the concept of involvement and how it is applied in consumer behavior and explain the difference between low-involvement and high-involvement situations.
    6. Discuss some measurement approaches for assessing consumer involvement.
  3. Chapter Overview
    • Why do people do the things they do? More specifically, why do they buy and consume the products, services, experiences, and brands they do? This question is at the core of consumer behavior, and this chapter provides some answers.
    • Although human motives have been studied for a long time, there are many ways of thinking about motives.
    • We define motivation as an inner drive that reflects goal-directed arousal. In a consumer behavior context, the result of this internal drive is a desire for a product, service, or experience.
    • From a marketing management perspective, it is crucial to bring marketing strategy in line with consumers' motivations and needs.
    • In this chapter, we discuss both drives and goals as aspects of motivation. A drive is an internal stimulus. For example, hunger, thirst, pain, and other physically experienced states are described as drives. Other emotionally experienced states such as the desire for affiliation or self-esteem can also be described as drives. Goals are ends or aspirations that direct action. To be considered a motive the goal should have independent power to bring about action.
    • Understanding the goals consumers are pursuing can provide important insights into many aspects of their behavior, including how they perceive and interpret the world around them.
    • Human motivation is the product of interaction between events and things in the social world and interpretations of those events and things in people's minds.
    • Motivational psychologists typically distinguish needs and wants. They describe needs as broad, fundamental biological and psychologicalrequirements that propel behavior, including the need for food, water, and shelter. Wants are described as the particular form of consumption that iscapable of satisfying underlying needs, for example what food is consumed to relieve hunger. However, consumers don't always experience distinctions between wants and needs and in fact, in many such cases, the distinction is trivial.
    • In this chapter, we will discuss some new insights into consumers' minds that can help us understand the relationship between culture and motivation.
    • In addition to discussing motivations, drives and needs, we also introduce the companion concepts of effort and involvement. Effort reflects the time and energy consumers are willing to commit to a goal. Felt involvement is the psychological outcome of motivation. Pursuing goals, the motivated consumer may feel interest, excitement, anxiety, passion, engagement, and flow. These are feelings of involvement with the goal objects.
    • Marketers have a renewed interest in understanding why consumers do what they do. They want to get inside the behaviors and understand the reasons for those behaviors.
  4. Classic Theories of Motivation
    • To some extent, it may seem confusing that there are so many (sometimes-conflicting) accounts and lists of human needs. One reason for this is that needs are not directly observable. They are psychological constructs. We cannot see or touch a need or a motivation or want. We can only infer the existence of such concepts. Four motivational frameworks are considered:
    • Sigmund Freud's concept of drives (e.g., as mediated by the id, ego, superego).
    • Carl Jung's concept of archetypes (e.g., the self, the great mother, the hero).
    • Abraham Maslow's concept of needs hierarchy (e.g., physiological needs, safety needs).
    • Henry Murray's list of human needs (e.g., abasement, acquisition, affiliation).
    1. Freud's Psychoanalytic Theory
      • Sigmund Freud, an Austrian physician and pioneer psychoanalyst, born in 1856. His insights about the existence of the unconscious mind profoundly changed our notions about human motivations and needs and are now part of our everyday thinking. Some argue that Freud's methods and conclusions were in error. Nonetheless, his work continues to exert strong influence on many current beliefs about human motivation.
      1. Overview of Freud's Theory
        • In brief, Freud described how many observed (abnormal) behaviors were easily explained if we consider the powerful unconscious forces at play.
        • Freud believed that the human psyche is broadly divided into the conscious and the unconscious. The ego represents the conscious mind. It is composed of perceptions, thoughts, memories, and feelings. The ego gives the personality a sense of identity and continuity. In many respects, Freud's notion of ego is a precursor to modern theories about self-concept.
        • The unconscious mind is called the id. It includes all the instincts and psychic energies that exist at birth. In this sense, the id (to a large extent) is biologically determined.
        • The motivations that derive from the unconscious mind are both innate and unique to the individual. These strong motivations must be satisfied. From this perspective, human life can be understood as a constant struggle to find a way to control the surrounding environment so as to achieve goals and drives which emanate from the id. The power of the unconscious is so strong that ignoring its impulses can cause the rational processes of the ego to become distorted and result in neuroses, phobias, delusions, and other irrationalities. In this sense, Freud concentrated his attention on abnormal behaviors. His account of human motivation is very much an account of abnormal individuals people, who for one reason of another, had troubled fitting into society.
        • Some kinds of consumer behaviors are driven by unconscious motives. Consumers often have difficulty articulating the exact reasons why they like something or why they have purchased something. For this reason, marketing researchers often make use of techniques (e.g., the depth interview) that facilitate an understanding of unconscious motives.
        • The superego is the third structure hypothesized by Freud. It represents the traditional ideas and values of society. These values are learned at childhood and are transmitted largely through identification with parents. The superego serves as a conscience and attempts to curb the passions that emanate from the id. The id is wild and untamed. It represents primal, animal instincts. The superego attempts to exert a civilizing force. At the same time, the superego comes into conflict with the ego. The superego attempts to compel the ego to pursue goals that match the morality that is dictated by society and culture.
        • The superego is like a filter or conscience. Humans do not act on every impulse. People do not turn every thought into an action. Some thoughts are suppressed. Some ideas people have do not lead to action (such as purchase or consumption behavior). Freud's notion of the superego is applied in modern marketing theories, such as the quick choice model (see Exhibit 11.1). Under this model, consumers respond to the constant flow of ideas (one of which is the father of another) by making use of a mechanism like Freud's concept of the superego. That is, the flow of ideas is filtered by a consumer's notion of right or wrong.
        • Exhibit 11.1: Quick-Choice Model (50.0K)

        • The main contribution of Freud's thought to motivational theory is the following. Freud's simple framework provides a way to think about the interplay between biological forces (represented by the id), societal forces (the superego), and human consciousness (the ego). These three forces are the foundations for explaining human motivations and needs as they influence behavior.
        • Implications of Freud's Theory for Marketing

          • From a marketing perspective, new product managers may try to create brands that fulfill needs of the id, ego, or superego. Similarly, advertising managers can use Freud's concepts to inspire creative copy.
          • Another way to tap into the unconscious mind is by exposing respondents to specific images. For instance, a Freudian-trained psychotherapist might make use of a Rorschach test-the so-called inkblot test. Marketing researchers have adapted this technique and are quite interested in studying consumers' reaction to visual images, again as an alternative to gathering information in a strictly verbal fashion.
    2. Jung's Psychoanalytic Theory
      • Carl Jung agreed with Freud's core position about the importance of unconscious motivations. If anything, Jung believed that the unconscious mind was a stronger force in determining human action than did Freud. To understand human motivation, he felt that it was necessary to delve beneath the surface to understand vast unconscious forces at work.

      Overview of Jung's Theory

      • In particular, Jung specified that there were forces beyond the individual (e.g., the "collective unconscious") that played an important role in directing human behavior. Jung conceived of the unconscious as being subdivided into the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious, which together hold all the hidden contents of the mind. The personal unconscious holds previously conscious experiences that have been repressed, forgotten, suppressed or ignored. When these unconscious thoughts or feelings cluster or constellate, in an organized group, they are termed complexes. Jung believed that complexes are held together by a nucleus that gathers related experiences around it. Although stored in the unconscious, the nucleus and its associated experiences can become conscious in the form of intuitions or similar inexplicable urges.
      • The concept of the collective unconscious is the most difficult of Jung's ideas about human motivation. Jung saw "archetypes" as an important bridge between the ways humans consciously express thoughts and a more instinctive, visual form of expression. Archetypes are a common reservoir of images that represent the collective unconscious. The synthesis of his investigations led him to assert that the similarity of the brain's structure in all humans is due, in part, to a common evolution; he believed that the collective unconscious was a storehouse of latent memory traces, or archetypes, inherited from the human ancestral past, including pre-human or animal ancestry.
      • Jung's archetypes are illustrated in Exhibit 11.2. This exhibit provides six examples of archetypes described by Jung, as well as symbols that are thought to be identified with them.


      • Image A (85.0K)
        Image B (85.0K)

      • Jung proposed that archetypes predispose humans to react to the world in a selective fashion. As the foundation of human motivation, the collective unconscious shapes a person's perceptions of the world and serves as a guiding influence by identifying itself with objects in the world that correspond to the image of its archetypes.

      Implications of Jung's Theory for Marketing

      • Jung's approach is important for marketers because it provides a way to explore myths, images, and symbols. In turn, myths and symbols are the building blocks for creating marketing phenomena (such as advertisements and promotions).
      • According to Jung's theory, humans do share deep-seated, eternal similarities. Since this is the case, Jung's theory provides a path for describing one way that marketers' messages can be globalized. By selecting universal symbols to enhance communication, marketers have an opportunity to use similar promotional campaigns in many different cultures.
    3. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
      • There are a variety of systems for classifying human needs. By far the most popular and well known is based on the research of psychologist Abraham Maslow.
      • Overview of Maslow's Theory

        • Maslow's hierarchy of needs is illustrated in Exhibit 11.3. The hierarchy appears as a pyramid, with broad base (i.e., physiological needs) of the pyramid representing the most dominant need. Self-actualization is shown at the top of the pyramid. Maslow's approach specifies that needs are arranged in a sequence from lowerlevel to higher level needs. Altogether, five needs are identified:
          1. Physiological-the biological needs for food and water and sleep.
          2. Safety and security-shelter, protection and security.
          3. Social-affection, friendship, and acceptance.
          4. Ego-prestige, success, accomplishment, self-esteem.
          5. Self-actualization-self-fulfillment and enriching experiences.

          Exhibit 11.3: Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

        • The lower level needs (starting with physiological, at the bottom of Exhibit 11.3) are considered to dominate the higher level needs. That is, consumers must satisfy lower-level needs before they begin to pursue higher-order needs. The highest level need, according to Maslow, is related to self-actualization. Consumers desire to live up to their full potential. This need for self-actualization only becomes activated if all four of the lower level needs have already been satisfied.
        • Although Maslow's hierarchy provides a useful organization for thinking about needs and motives, it is overly simplistic. The hierarchy ignores the intensity of the needs. The avid consumption of luxuries in poor transitional economies illustrates this over-simplification. In addition, Maslow's ordering of needs may not be consistent across cultures. In fact, research suggests that a somewhat different hierarchy applies in the East.

        Implications of Maslow's Theory for Marketing

        • From a consumer behavior perspective, the optimal use for Maslow's system is to classify needs. Maslow's need hierarchy provides a useful summary or inventory of human needs that may guide consumer behavior. However, marketing managers should be cautious in assuming that a hierarchy of needs holds. Maslow's list of needs can serve as key input for product design.
        • Many ad capmaigns are designed to appeal to one or more of the needs represented in Maslow's hierarchy. The Blazer ad below illustrates an appeal to safety.
        • This Ad Uses a Safety Appeal (50.0K)

    4. Murray's Theory of Motivation
      • Henry Murray was a pioneer in shifting attention away from motives as internal states or drives, to thinking about motives in terms of goal striving. His research preceded Maslow's work by almost 20 years, but in many ways was much more sophisticated. His work influenced and continues to influence many students of motivation.

      An Overview of Murray's Theory

      • The three previous motivation researchers we have described set out to summarize human motives in as simple a structure as possible. By contrast, Murray set out to list an inventory of every possible need he could distinguish. Just his basic list of major human needs includes 22 different ones.
      • Murray believed that people differ in their priority ranking of these needs. Modern interpretations of his list suggest that, depending on social and cultural circumstances, some of these needs are never salient while others assume great importance.
      • Like Freud, Jung, and Maslow, Murray had a view of the self and motives that derived from Western psychology, and his theory is culture-bound, that is, it doesn't necessarily apply outside the society where the theory was developed. However, because his inventory of motives is so comprehensive it is more adaptable to different cultural traditions.
      • One of the major criticisms of Murray's work is that it is just a lengthy inventory of needs, and this makes it difficult and impractical for marketers to use.

      Implications of Murray's Theory for Marketing

      • Murray's detailed list of needs identifies several needs specially associated with objects. He identified acquisitionneeds (to gain possessionsand property), order needs (to put things in order, achieve cleanliness, arrangements, organization, balance), and retention needs (to retain possessionof things, to hoard, to be frugal, economical and miserly) as among the most basic human needs. Marketers often appeal to these needs for acquiring and retaining possessions.
      • Acquisition may be a basic human need but major religions discourage excess in acquisition and encourage restraint. Judeo-Christian, Buddhist, Taoist, Hindu and Native American traditions all encourage restraint in materialist desire. Nevertheless, we give examples throughout this book from many different cultures about the desire to acquire, order and retain possessions. Although the meaning and importance of possessions varies substantially among different peoples both within a given culture and between cultures, most people seem to need to acquire and retain certain special objects.
  5. A Cross-Cultural Perspective on Motivation
    • Marketers are interested in the basic need for acquisition of possessions, or the particular desire for a type of product, but they are also interested in understanding and predicting why a particular consumer in a specific social and/or cultural setting buys a special brand.
    • Motivation varies with people's perceptions (chapter nine), self-concept (chapter seven), and experiences and knowledge (chapter twelve). Even more basic, motivation depends on people's biology, including and perhaps especially their brains. It's not too difficult to understand how motivations derive from basic physiological needs such as the needs for food, water, air, sex and shelter, but the role of the brain in driving higher level needs is more complicated.
    1. How the Brain, Mind, and Motivation Are Linked
      • The most recent research on how brains develop involves highly technical details about anatomy and organic chemistry.
      • One of the leading experts in the evolving debates about consciousness and the mind is Nobel Prize winner Gerald Edelman. Edelman's theory draws very directly from Darwin and, in fact, he refers to his theory as neutral Darwinism. He argues that each individual brain, even before birth, uses a process that resembles natural selection to develop during its own lifetime. This means that every person's individual mind is shaped by Darwinian rules of selection to provide a structure (networks of connections between neurons) that will enable that person to cope with the world. Genetics predisposes certain connections, for example, those related to reaching for and grasping objects (which most babies seem to do instinctively). However, the actual pattern of connections in a brain is unpredictable. Those connections that prove most helpful in the outside world become stronger. Those that prove unhelpful weaken and disappear. This and other emerging theories have profound implications for the study of motivation.
      • These theories lead us to a central conclusion-consumers are uniquely shaped by cultural and social settings and they are constantly adapting based on what works and what doesn't.
      • Motivations are likely to be both more unique to an individual and more variable across social and cultural environments than we previously thought. Moreover, motivations are more likely to change as the world around us changes. Consumers will adapt their motivations and actions to fit with what works in that new environment.
    2. How Motivation and Culture are Linked
      • There is no direct relationship between culture and motivation. Not everyone in a particular culture behaves the same because each has an individual set of experiences that shapes how they interpret and respond to their world.
      • In this section, we describe just one of the ways in which culture can impact motivation7through the relationship between the culture and self-concept.
      • In Chapter 7 we described how some cultures stress an independent self. This idea of a unique, self-contained, autonomous entity is clearly illustrated in American culture and many Western European cultures. The cultural imperative centers on maintaining independence and separateness. No wonder Maslow's highest goal is self-actualization! Researchers coming from Maslow's tradition assume that motives related to the need to express one's agency or competency (e.g., the achievement motivation) are common to everyone. However, many cultures have an interdependent view of self. The interdependent is characteristic of Japanese, other Asian cultures, African cultures, Latin-American cultures, and some Southern European cultures. In this view, the self is part of an encompassing social relation and behavior is dependent on and organized by perceptions of the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others in the relationship.
      • Research has demonstrated that these differences between an independent and interdependent view of self translate very directly into what types of advertising strategies work. Being different and standing out are not valued; staying with tradition is. As illustrated in Exhibit 11.4, Murray described many needs that have peculiar salience for those with interdependent selves.
      • Exhibit 11.4: Interdependent Needs (50.0K)

    3. Five Consumer Needs in Cultural Perspective
      • If you leaf through just about any U.S. or Western European magazine, you will see high proportions of ads are targeted toward one of these five consumer needs. Two of these needs (the need for power and uniqueness) are likely to be much higher in independent than interdependent cultures. Three of these needs (the needs for achievement, affiliation and self-esteem) are likely to be important in both, but have very different meanings and actions associated with them.

      The Achievement Motive

      • One of the most studied and talked about motivations is probably the need for achievement. The achievement need is defined as emotion experienced in connection with evaluated performance.
      • Whereas the individually-oriented achievement motive implies striving for it's own sake, the socially oriented achievement motive has the goal of meeting expectations of significant others. Several studies have distinguished between these two types of achievement motivation, showing that the motive to achieve goals can be for social and collective reasons.

      The Power Motive

      • The power need is defined as the need to have impact, control, or influence over another person, group, or the world at large.
      • One specific (appropriate or inappropriate) manifestation of the need for power-to "make a splash" or create excitement-is particularly situation dependent. Researchers have reached the general conclusion that people who have a high need for power strive to be assertive.
      • Although everyone may have some desire for agency and control, assertiveness may not be the control strategy of choice. For example, people in many Asian cultures appear to use what is termed secondary control. This involves accommodating existing circumstances and may mean limiting individualism in order to fit with present circumstances.
      • One socially acceptable way to fulfill one's power need is by collecting "prestige possessions" or symbols of power. These possessions may include credit cards, watches, computers, cars, cellular phones and so on. For example, as Consumer Chronicles 11.3, illustrates, creating a personal web page can be a source of power.
      • Consumer Chronicles 11.3: Power-Related Motives for Creating Personal Web Pages (50.0K)

      The Uniqueness/Novelty Motive

      • Blending in and not standing out (e.g., integration or affiliation) is very important in interdepednent-self cultures. Individuals in independent self-cultures express the desire to be independent and unique (e.g., differentiation or distinction).
      • The uniqueness need, that is, the need toperceive oneself as different from others, has been called the "pursuit of difference." Many western cultures and Americans in particular put a premium on standing out and being unique. Americans struggle to enhance self-esteem motives. Individuals with an independent view of the self seek to maintain self-esteem by distinguishing and differentiating themselves from others.
      • In much of the modern world, the majority of products are mass marketed. In this climate, many people feel that it is difficult to create and project uniqueness. Just as the mass market exerts strong pressure to conform, so too the modern workplace exerts strong pressure to conform.
      • One way consumers can differentiate themselves is through attitudes and beliefs. Another way a person can be different is through uniqueness attributes, for example, physical qualities, information or experiences.For example, consumers with a high need for uniqueness are especially attracted to scarce products. These consumers search for new and special products to maintain a sense of specialness relative to others.
      • Computer technology can be used to create a unique image or to express individuality. Communicating in cyberspace can provide thrills, excitement and a feeling of uniqueness. Consumers' interactions on the Web can be exciting to the senses. In some instances, buyers on web auction sites are willing to pay more for products they purchase over the Internet because of the spectacle and excitement provided by the purchase environment.

      The Affiliation Motive

      • One of people's most basic social behaviors is our urge for contact. Our ancestors evolved in small, cohesive groups. The universality of the need to belong is revealed by the use of ostracism as a punishment in many societies. Brain research reveals that feelings of belonging are strongly motivating.
      • The need for affiliation is defined as the need to be with people.
        We might expect that the need for affiliation would be higher in interdependent than independent cultures. Surprisingly studies have not found this. What we have discovered is that the meaning of affiliation and the behaviors that accompany affiliation do differ.
      • One recent trend in industrialized society is that consumers felt more and more detached as the twentieth century unfolded. Large institutions and mass media have the effect of insulating and detaching consumers from their fellows. As a result, consumers sometimes experience a strong motivation to reconnect and associate with groups of kindred spirits. Many consumers are eager to find a way to overcome feelings of detachment, depersonalization, and isolation. Advertisers often try to position products and services as symbols of affiliation or as means that will enable consumers to achieve connection with people.

      The Self-Esteem Motive

      • Another motive that has received a lot of attention is the need tomaintain a positive view of the self, or the self-esteem, as discussed in Chapter 7. Studies of Americans show that even at a very early age they take credit for successes, explain away failures, and see themselves as better than most others in most ways. This is referred to as a self-enhancing bias.
      • The self-esteem goal is seen as fundamental in Western cultures. In Japan, expressing your inner self is not valued. What is important is to control the expression of your inner self in order to fit in with others and maintain harmony. Research has demonstrated that Japanese put less emphasis on consistency between feelings and actions than Americans. In fact, self-esteem among those with interdependent selves may heavily depend on self-control and self-restraint that enable belonging and fitting in.
  6. Needs Related to the Shopping Process
    • In this section, we discuss and illustrate two consumer needs related to the shopping process including deal proneness and self-sacrifice. This is not intended to comprise a comprehensive list of shopping motives, but only to suggest how shopping environments can relate to consumer needs.
    1. Deal Proneness: Winning at the game of Shopping
      • For some consumers, shopping is like a contest or game. So, a consumer may shop for hours and make many comparisons so as to make just the right purchase. This purchase may be evaluated in terms of the amount of money saved. Or, in other instances, time may be the objective function. In this sense, the deals that marketers offer can be viewed as a key motivator of behavior.
      • Marketers offer deals to consumers for many reasons. Examples of deals include everything from coupons, to rebates, to free samples. From one perspective, a deal (such as a special coupon) serves to draw attention to the brand. Such a deal may stimulate or trigger purchase behavior.
      • Deal proneness can be viewed as a kind of consumer need. When combined with other needs, it has the potential to explain the "why" of consumer behavior. Consumers' responses to deals can also be viewed as a personality variable For instance, we may say that some consumers are particularly deal prone. These consumers seek out deals for a wide variety of reasons, including saving money, having fun, or being efficient shoppers.
      • Consumers often haggle over price. Pricehaggling involves give and take by buyer and seller in order to establish a price acceptable to both. The prevalence of price haggling varies considerably between cultures. Many economies operate on a barter system and rely heavily on haggling price. When consumers price haggle we might assume, that they are motivated to obtain a better dollar value for their purchase's that is, economic motives.
      • One U.S. based study used an analysis of depth interviews to illustrate consumers can fulfill three primary needs including achievement, affiliation, and dominance, by haggling over price.
      • Deal proneness and price haggling, like other needs, are shaped by the shopping culture or environment the consumer experiences. Consumers in transitional economies may be particularly motivated by sales because of the previous lack of goods and lack of price differentiation among goods.
    2. Shopping as Self-Sacrifice
      • Often we interpret shopping as a pleasure or a self-gift. People report that when they are feeling low, or want to reward themselves, they go shopping. A perspective that may be the source or rich insights for marketers interprets shopping as self-sacrifice. The findings are based on ethnography of lower and lower middle class women in the United Kingdom, although an ethnographic study of lower and lower middle Chicago women reports similar findings.
      • Daniel Miller, an anthropologist, argues that women shop out of devotional love for their families. Their shopping is an investment in their families and relationships with family members. Purchases are rationalized not in terms of what was spent, but in terms of savings and thrift. These savings and thrift generated through shopping then constitute funds that can be given to dependents and descendants. In this perspective provisioning of the family through shopping is an important way of constituting and preserving the family. The idea that women can use purchases to show their family they love them is common in many U.S. magazines. If shopping is viewed as provisioning the family rather than a pleasurable, self-indulgent activity, then marketers would use different appeals to encourage shopping and purchase of their products.
  7. Consumer Involvement
    • Motives need to be understood in terms of the effort that consumers are willing to commit. When motivation to achieve a goal is high, consumers are likely to invest substantial effort. Pursuing goals, the motivated consumer may feel involved-interest, excitement, anxiety, passion, engagement, and flow.
    1. Types and Characteristics of Consumer Involvement
      • Involvement can include heightened thinking and processing informationabout the goal object referred to as cognitive involvement. Involvement can also or instead include heightened feelings and emotional energy referred to as affective involvement. Marketing can stimulate one or both types of involvement.
      • When involvement peaks it is referred to as flow. A flow experience is when a person's attention is completely absorbed by the activity or thegoal object. This kind of experience creates a merging of action and awareness. Achieving flow requires a clear goal, a strong sense of whether progress is being made and skilled performance-accomplishing the goal requires effort and demands the individual's capabilities. Many people report flow as an outcome of engaging in extreme activities such as skydiving or mountaineering.
      • An advertisement for Outward Bound, shown below, reflects the potentially transcendent experience of an absorbing, extreme activity.
      • Many Extreme Outdoor Sports Provide a Sense of Flow to Participants (50.0K)

      • Although extreme activities are often associated with flow, any activity that fully engages an individual can be a source of a flow experience.
      • Consumer involvement is a function of the goal object, the individual, and the decision situation. Involvement is the perceived level of personal importance or interest evoked by a stimulus within a specific situation. Involvement is equivalent to a person's activation level at a particular moment of time. Involvement becomes activated when personal needs, values, or self-concept are stimulated within a given situation. For that reason, any particular product category's corresponding level of involvement can fluctuate due to the variability of consumers' interaction with the stimulus over time.
      • Some products and brands may generate many feelings and thoughts, while others may stimulate almost no feelings or thoughts.
      • The same product can have different involvement levels across people. One reason for this difference across people is that all consumers do not share the same motivations and needs at the same time. Consumer researchers distinguish between enduring product involvement and situational product involvement. Enduringinvolvement represents the long-term interest that a consumer has in a product class. Products that consumers continue to be involved with over time are central to a consumer's values, needs, or self-concept.
      • Most consumers only experience enduring involvement in a few products and/or activities. A consumer might express enduring involvement in anything including a sports team, cosmetics, clothes, cars, Beanie Babies or Mickey Mouse. Enduring involvement may decline with length of use.
      • Characteristics of the decision situation can influence consumer involvement. The term situational involvement is used to describe temporary interest in a purchase or consumption process. Many aspects of the decision situation can influence situational involvement. The greater the social pressure for purchase, the greater the involvement. The faster the decision has to be made the greater the involvement. The more irrevocable, or final, a decision is, the greater the involvement. Situational purchase or consumption involvement levels increase when financial risk and social risk are high.
      • In almost all cases, the purchase of a house to live in is highly involving. A lot of money is at stake. The decision will have implications for years to come. That one, single purchase will have implications for future decisions (e.g., what furniture to buy, how to decorate, what lawn care products to purchase).
    2. Marketing Implications of Different Levels of Involvement
      • High involvement and low involvement affect attention, information search, purchase, and consumption satisfaction differently. Thus, the marketing strategies used vary with the level of involvement, and marketers use involvement to identify segments in the market.
      • Because involvement affects decision-making and attitudes we will revisit the marketing implications of involvement when we discuss these topics in detail in chapter 13.

      High Involvement Purchase and Consumption

      • When consumers are highly involved with a purchase, they are willing to expend greater levels of shopping effort. In other words, the higher the level of involvement, the greater the amount of time and money that consumers are willing to spend and the greater number of stores that they will visit.
      • With high involvement, attention is increased and more importance is attached to the stimulus object. Memory is enhanced. The purchase process is more complex for highly involved consumers, and they are more motivated to make a careful purchase decision. They search extensively for relevant information about products and/or brands that are personally relevant. High-involvement consumers have strongly held beliefs about brands and perceive great differences between brands in a product class. They often have a favorite or preferred brand and are brand loyal.
      • Purchase involvement is positively related to search activities. That is, consumers with high-involvement place greater importance on major information sources and engage in an active search process and they are heavy users of newspaper and advertising. However, they are more likely to generate negative cognitive responses to product-related messages.
      • Highly involved consumers find shopping more interesting and enjoyable. Involved consumers like to get the best value for their money and are much more concerned with attributes that assure value in purchasing, such as favorable return policies.
      • Highly involved consumers often show more satisfaction with products. Since high involvement motivates consumers to spend time and effort to avoid postpurchase dissatisfaction, these consumers generally report higher satisfaction and less negative disconfirmation with the product they purchase. However, there is some question about how satisfaction levels change over time.
      • As in many areas of consumer behavior, we don't know much about how involvement levels ebb and flow over time and how the relationship between involvement and other variables (such as satisfaction) may vary over time.

      Low-Involvement Purchase and Consumption

      • It is important to keep in mind that, in many purchase situations, the consumer couldn't care less; that is, there is low involvement. For paper towels, consumers may make the purchase, switch brands, and ignore commercials.
      • Low-involvement consumers are not active information seekers. Because the decision is of little importance, such consumers are not active information processors. They tend to make little comparison among brands or among product attributes. Often, low-involvement consumers are indifferent among a group of brands. They don't have special preferences for a particular brand, and brand loyalty is not very strong. The purchase decision may result from simple recognition of the product on the shelf. Since low-involvement purchasers are not paying much attention, they may get easily confused, or they may make mistakes. In many instances, however, the low-involvement purchaser may not really care too much about the mistakes.
      • Consumption experiences may also not involve much arousal or involvement.

      Low Involvement Marketing Strategies

      • Marketers of a product that evokes low involvement may consider strategies that will increase consumers' involvement with a product or brand over a short period or for longer periods.
      • Another way to raise involvement levels is to adapt the advertising medium to the product category.
      • Marketers can raise the involvement level of the situation by promoting their product in a high involvement medium (e.g., the Web) instead of a low involvement medium (e.g., radio). Marketers must tailor the complexity of their message to suit the inherent involvement level of their product or service.
      • On the one hand, brand managers of low-involvement products may not be thrilled with the idea that consumers don't really care about their product. But, on the other hand, consumers in a low-involvement situation are willing to try unfamiliar brands without a full search for information and without forming a strong preference first. Complete evaluation of the brand comes after the brand has been purchased and used. Thus, marketers can appeal to low-involvement consumers through extensive distribution networks or through clever in-store displays.

      Involvement as a Segmentation Variable

      • Involvement can be a useful segmentation variable. For instance, consumers can be segmented into the following four groups based around their involvement with a product category and with particular brands:
        1. Brand loyalists--those who are highly involved both with the product category and with particular brands.
        2. Information seekers--those who are highly involved with a product category but do not have a preferred brand.
        3. Routine brand buyers--those who are not highly involved with the product category but are involved with a particular brand in that category.
        4. Brand switchers--those who are not involved with the product category or with particular brands.
  8. Researching Motives
    • Motivational research can provide insights into consumer behavior and can reveal unsuspected motivations concerning product and brand usage.
    • It can be used to develop new ideas for promotional campaigns, and also to explore consumer reaction to new product ideas. There are many different motivational research techniques, some of which were discussed in Chapter 3. The means-ends chain and laddering provide a basic way of moving from product attributes to underlying motives; the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET) combines consumer images and stories to help reseravhers understand motives.
    1. The Means-Ends Chain and Laddering
      • A chief goal of the marketing department within an organization is to understand the underlying consumer motivations for purchasing and then to communicate these consumer motivations to the rest of the organization.
      • The means-ends chain provides a way to dig beneath the surface and to discover layers of consumer meaning. The name is derived from the assumption that a brand is a consumer's means of achieving a desired end or goal. Thus, the means-end chain suggests a clear method for discovering a consumer's pattern of motivations.
      • Instructions for administering a means-ends chain are shown in Good Practice 11.1. Sample outputs from the measurement process are shown in Consumer Chronicles 11.6, where the responses from one consumer, Karen, are summarized.
      • Good Practice 11.1: Administering Means-Ends Chains (50.0K)

        Consumer Chronicles 11.6: Sample Means-Ends Chain Output for a Candy Bar (50.0K)

      • At the first step, the respondent narrows down the list of important factors, or benefits, to the two that are seen as most important.
      • At the second step of measurement, the respondent is asked to say whythose two particular benefits are important. This is the start of the laddering process. The interviewer keeps asking Why? until the informant responds with a value (e.g., achievement, affiliation) or until the informant becomes so fatigued and can no longer answer. This succession of "why" questions is referred to as the laddering process.
      • Presumably, the majority of consumer means-ends chains will culminate with a basic motive or value.
      • Note that the laddering technique requires an in-depth interview that is potentially time consuming and possibly frustrating for the respondent (e.g., being continually confronted with "why" questions). Thus, the means-end chain method is usually applied to small samples. It is not particularly feasible for large-scale applications.
    2. The Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique
      • With the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique, or ZMET, researchers use pictures and nonvisual images gathered and/or generated by consumers to elicit and probe the metaphors that represent consumers' thoughts and feelings about a topic. The use of one form of expression to describe or representfeelings about another is called a metaphor.
      • By having people select their own images, the ZMET process gives participants control of the research stimuli and a sense of involvement with the topic. Participants are able to represent their thoughts and feelings more fully and personally than possible when responding to stimuli created and presented by the researcher.
      • ZMET is especially effective at helping consumers uncover hidden or tacit knowledge-understanding they didn't know they had. ZMET has been used to help many companies develop promotional campaigns or identify new product ideas.
      • Each ZMET interview is a one-to-one discussion, approximately two hours long. The ZMET interview employs several steps to identify consumers' key thoughts and feelings. The technique is based, in part, on the fact that most human communication is nonverbal and that much of nonverbal communication is visual. Each step in ZMET provides a different window for identifying and understanding of consumers' thoughts and feelings. The use of multiple steps also increases the likelihood of uncovering an important idea that might be missed by more narrowly focused techniques. At the same time, each step provides validation of ideas from other steps. ZMET capitalizes on consumers' ideas about stories and movies to get at deeper meanings.
      • ZMET offers a way to tap into the unconscious mind. It provides a way to understand consumer motivations that are not necessarily tied to verbal expressions. One advantage of ZMET is that it can provide unique input to advertising copywriters. Much of marketing research is summarized by statistics or by a written report. ZMET provides consumer-based images that can become part of the visual portion of an ad campaign.
  9. Measuring Involvement
    • Both means-ends chains and ZMET can be used to understand involvement because they show how product attributes are related to important aspects of the self and basic consumer problems and goals. Because we lack a clear definition about the essential components of involvement, there is a lot of variation in the measurement of involvement. Some measures focus on cognitive involvement, others on behaviors or outcomes of involvement, and others have focused on measuring the enduring involvement the product has for the consumer. Most agree that involvement should be measured on a continuum, rather than as a dichotomy of high and low involvement and many use multi-item scales.
    • One measure of involvement called the Revised Personal InvolvementInventory, the (RPII), shown in Exhibit 11.5. The scales displayed in the exhibit make use of the semantic differential method. The semantic differential consists of a series of bipolar items, each measured on a seven-point scale.
    • Exhibit 11.5: The Revised Personal Involvement Inventory (RPII) (50.0K)

    • There are three main advantages of the RPII. First, it contains only 10 items. This makes it easy to include in a survey or experiment. Second, the RPII is divided into two overall factors-cognitive and affective, consistent with involvement theory. A third major advantage of the RPII is that it can be used to measure involvement with a variety of stimulus objects, including products, ads, or purchase decisions.