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Over the past two decades, consumer behavior and advertising researchers have extensively studied the concept of involvement.21 Involvement is viewed as a variable that can help explain how consumers process advertising information and how this information might affect message recipients. One problem that has plagued the study of involvement has been agreeing on how to define and measure it. Advertising managers must be able to determine targeted consumers' involvement levels with their products.

Understanding Involvement

Some of the problems in conceptualizing and measuring involvement have been addressed in extensive review by Judith Zaichkowsky. She has noted that although there is no single precise definition of involvement, there is an underlying theme focusing on personal relevance22 Zaichkowsky developed an involvement construct that includes three antecedents, or variables proposed to precede involvement (Figure 5-6). The first is traits of the person (value system, unique experiences, needs). The second factor is characteristics of the stimulus, or differences in type of media (TV, radio, or print), content of the communication, or product class variations. The third antecedent is situational factors, such as whether one is or is not in the market for a particular product.

The various antecedents can influence the consumer's level of involvement in several ways, including the way the consumer responds to the advertising, the products being advertised, and the actual purchase decision. This involvement conceptualization shows that a variety of outcomes or behaviors can result from involvement with advertising, products, or purchase decisions.

Several other advertising planning grids have been developed that consider involvement levels as well as other factors, including response processes and motives that underlie attitude formation and subsequent brand choice.

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