Integrated marketing communications and level of consumer involvement

Published: 2018/01/09 Number of words: 1424

This paper analyses how the understanding of level of consumer involvement, along with perceived risk and motivation to purchase, assists a marketer to cater the design and use of integrated marketing communications accordingly.

Purchase decision 
Lavidge and Steiner (1961) cited in Wu (2001) have come up with a hierarchical model which states the stages a customer goes through before finally making a purchase. These stages are:

  1. Unawareness
  2. Awareness
  3. Knowledge
  4. Liking
  5. Preference
  6. Conviction
  7. Purchase

Factors that may affect product purchase may be personal and concerned with the needs, goals, activities and demographics of the customer. On the other hand they may be affected by the product characteristics or even level of consumer involvement in the product. Advertising too plays a role in the process and this may be affected by the type of media, the tone of the advertisements, how long and often they are aired and so on.

Level of consumer involvement
Previous research (Laurent and Kapferer 1985, Ray 1982, Rothschild 1979, Vaughn 1980) has proved that the level of consumer involvement plays a large part in marketing. Consumer Involvement can refer to the extent to which customers have psychological affinity and ties with the prodct (William, 1997) or even the amount of arousal, interest and drive evoked by the product (Dholakia, 2001). Customers often tend to be highly involved with products such as dresses, lingerie, televisions and vehicles and not so involved with products like mouth washes, breakfast cereals, instant coffees and oils (Laurent and Kapferer, 1985; Zaichkowsky, 1985) cited in (William, 1997). This led to the possibility that certain product characteristics or brands may cause a higher consumer involvement in the minds of consumers. The stimuli, which may arouse high consumer involvement, may be affected by marketing and promotional activities. If these activities give meaning to the brand or even improve the customer relationship with the brand then they may effectively cause a higher consumer involvement in the brand. Thus marketers need to take a proactive approach to ensure that the majority of consumers develop a high consumer involvement with their product.

Certain attributes typical in high consumer involvement products are nostalgic value, personification, uniqueness, facilitation, engagement, aesthetic appeal, quality, association, social visibility, image congruence and price risk (Martin, 1998). Marketers effectively strengthen the brand-consumer relationship by incorporating these attributes in their brands. Coca Cola has effectively used packaging and the shapes of the bottles that were used in the past, in their advertising campaigns, to bank on the nostalgic factors.

Retailers and marketers often use atmospherics to involve the consumers. Music, for example has been found to affect supermarket sales and even sales in restaurants (Milliman, 1986). Colour, scent, the atmosphere of the store and even online atmospherics affect a consumer’s involvement, which may ultimately affect his/her purchase decision. As a result store design, layout of the store and products, websites and promotional material is often designed so as to appeal to and engage with the consumer.

Figure 1: Attributes of high consumer involvement products and their outcomes

Source: William, 1997 (Consumer Involvement)

Perceived risk 
Perceived risk can be the uncertain or unanticipated consequences that can occur as a result of purchasing the product (Dholakia, 2001). Perceived risk plays a major part in the consumer purchase decision. Therefore a consumer will think about the likelihood of a breakdown and cost of repairs when purchasing a washing machine. A health conscious consumer will read the ingredients on food packaging carefully to avoid products with hydrogenated fats, additives and preservatives and will also avoid products with a high calorie count.

According to Cheng et al (2008), consumers pick up various cues to decide the perceived risk of a product. Some of these extrinsic cues are brand name, warranties offered, store name, price and country of origin. It was seen that online consumers often shopped from websites that originated in developed countries and avoided those from developing countries because the risk perception was higher (Cheng et al, 2008).

It is up to the marketers to reduce the effects of these perceived risks. Cheng et al. (2008) state that credible brand equity creates a favourable customer attitude because of the favoured perception of the quality of service. Therefore marketers try to include elements of trust, reliability, personalisation and security in their marketing communications in order to increase the perception of service and quality and thereby reducing the perception of risk. As an example websites use the local language of the country that they are operating in, giving the consumer a favourable impression of service quality.

Motivation to purchase 
Consumer motivations are behaviours that satisfy a certain kind of need (Solomon, 2004) cited in (Hollywood et al., 2007). Consumer motivation is linked to the final purchase behaviour of the customer. Retailers seek to identify the exact purchase motivations that result in purchase decisions among different segments of consumers. By understanding the customer motivation, marketers can differentiate their marketing efforts by promoting the very attributes that the consumer seeks and finds attractive. This also enables them to understand consumer buying behaviours further, enabling them to predict future buying behaviour.

Hollywood et al (2007) suggests segmenting consumers based on their decision-making style and then creating specific marketing and positioning strategies for each segmented group. Marketers basically activate the motivations, urging satisfaction of a need (Wolfe, 1998). Through various advertising and marketing campaigns, the unconscious mind keeps on absorbing information and urges the conscious mind to satisfy the need.

Figure 2: Marketers information through the consumer’s mind

Source: Wolfe, 1998(Consumer Involvement)

Marketers often use experiential marketing to target consumers. After cigarette brand advertising was banned at events, the company Philip Morris continued sponsoring the Formula 1 to advertise its Marlboro brand and put the image of the Ferrari on their cigarette packs instead (BBC News, 2005). The red colour of the cars, which matched the colour of the brand, was used to create an association in the minds of the consumers (BBC News, 2005). Similarly the company sponsored various paraphernalia in bars, like furniture and ashtrays, and used a similar shade of red as its brand. In a study conducted by Dias (2003) as to what motivated generation X and generation Y shoppers, it was found that the X generation preferred non-conformist advertisements whereas generation Y prefers advertisements concentrating on the product features, with fast moving

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Dholakia, U (2000) A motivational process model of product involvement and consumer risk perception, European Journal of Marketing [online], vol.35 (11/12), p.1340-1362. Available from:;jsessionid=6E38D42FD09591BAD5C5A752E4F765F0?contentType=Article&contentId=853766  [accessed: 8 May 2009]

Hollywood et al. (2007) Using behavioural and motivational thinking in food segmentation. International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management [online], vol. 35(9), p. 691-702. Available from: [accessed: 8 May 2009]

Martin, C.L. (1998), “Engineering high-meaning, high-involvement brands as a relationship marketing strategy”, Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 7 No.1, pp.6-26.

William, G (1997) Low involvement brands: is the brand manager to blame? Marketing Intelligence and Planning [online], vol. 15(2), p.60-70. [accessed: 8th May 2009]

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Wolfe, D (1998) Developmental relationship marketing (connecting messages with mind: an empathetic marketing system). Journal of Consumer Marketing [online], vol.15(5), p.449-467. [accessed: 8 May 2009]

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