High involvement vs low involvement decision-making

Is there really much of a difference in someone buying a banana over a holiday? At the end of the day, they will just make a transaction correct? Ah, yes and yes.

The decision processes behind a purchase are incredibly complex, and something that is very helpful to consider when defining your target market and developing your marketing campaign. Here’s why…

Two purchase decisions

Generally there are two main types of purchase decision someone can make; low involvement and high involvement purchase decisions. Each of these move through what we marketers call the consumer decision making process. The broad difference between the two decisions is that the purchaser moves either easily and therefore quite fast through the cycle, or they move with more difficultly and therefore quite slowly through the process.

The steps of the decision making process are; need recognition and problem awareness, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, and post-purchase evaluation.

Low involvement purchase decision

Low involvement purchase decisions take little time or effort for the purchaser. Think about your mindless weekly shop around the supermarket, do you research before hand, dwell, consider, weigh up the alternatives for the bag of lettuce you buy every week that costs $5? Not likely, possibly you browse a couple of different options in the shop, and then likely forget all about the purchase by the time you are in the next aisle!

High involvement purchase decision

High involvement purchase decisions often take time and effort for the purchaser (sometimes even years!). Think about when you purchased your first house, how many properties did you sift through online, attend open homes, read marketing collateral and blogs before you finally settled on the right house? I’m betting a lot. And even after you had your offer accepted you probably still questioned yourself (was it the right purchase?). Speaking with Salisbury real estate agent Greg Murphy (you can check out his website here), he noted that buyers will often take weeks to finalise their offers after potentially inspecting the property multiple times, organising builder inspections and comparing against other properties in the area.

What changes the purchase decision process?

Broadly… A lot… So I’ll try to cover a few important items in the dot points below;

  • Personal situation… If money were no object to you, would buying a house worth $350,000 be a big deal? Probably not. In this case, the purchase would not be weighted as highly for this individual as the purchase decision of someone who had saved for the last 5 years to make their minimum deposit on the same house.
  • External factors… How many more clothes would you buy if you went shopping on a Saturday with your girlfriends, compared to by yourself? Possibly more… Why? Because your friends influence your purchasing decisions. ‘You must buy that dress – it looks stunning!’… You can’t not buy that dress now!
  • Marketing… Marketing comes into play at every single point of the purchase decision. How would you even know about that certain brand if you hadn’t heard about it? Why do you feel comfortable purchasing that brand if you haven’t built trust with it through their brand touch points? Yep, that’s marketing working for you.

Consider your business

Take a moment to consider your product or service now, do your target market see your product as a generally high or low involvement purchase decision? Either way, does every brand touch point you have with your target market encourage them to move through the decision making process more smoothly? Do you have enough touch points to convert them? Will you leave them feeling warm and fuzzy after they have purchased your product or service, or confused and unsure?

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