A high involvement product is a product where extensive thought process is involved and the consumer considers a lot of variables before finally making a purchase decision. Many times, high involvement purchases involve multiple buyers or multiple influencers who influence a single buyer.
An example of multiple people being involved in buying a high involvement product is when you purchase a car. If you want to purchase a car, you will surely involve your loved ones and will take review from your friends as well as on the internet. You will collect a lot of information, and then finally, once your confidence is up, you will purchase the brand you are targeting. Hence, a high involvement purchase does not involve only the buyer. It involves the public perception of the product and the brand as well.
Features of High Involvement products or High involvement purchase
The first feature of a high involvement purchase is that the price of the product is high. Because of the high price, the consumer thinks twice before the purchase. Price in itself is a subjective approach.
An apartment in a good locality might be child’s play for a rich person but is a dream for a poor person. Thus, for the poor, it is a very high involvement purchase. He might have to save for years before he finally decides to purchase the house. Whereas, to the rich, the purchase of such an apartment might be low involvement instead.
Differentiation is important
The higher the involvement in the product, the more is the differentiation required between the product or the brands. Just look at Macbook pro vs Dell XPS 13. These are 2 laptops who are at the top of their game currently. There are a lot of points differentiating them and these differentiating factors are needed. These factors create enough value to instigate the consumer in making a decision.
If there is poor differentiation, then a high involvement product might lose out to a competitor who has excellent distribution. Technological innovations, product level innovations or overall features of a product can help the consumer take a faster decision in a high involvement purchase.
Brand recall and valuation
Influencers can be many people. It can be your son when you are buying a home theatre or an expensive mobile. It can be your friend who is driving the luxury car and recommends you to buy from the same brand. It can be your overall exposure to the brand over the years and your inclination to buy the same. It can be your family which recommends the brand, even though they have not purchased the same.
In general, a brand which has a higher recall or valuation has a higher chance of winning over competitors whenever high involvement products are involved. Look at speakers of Bose which are considered as high involvement products mainly because of their premium price in a category where there are cheap speakers as well.
However, the brand valuation of bose and the performance of their speakers over the years are enough to put a consumer in awe of them. In essence, media exposure over years might instigate the consumer to keep Bose speakers as his dream home theatre system. Over a period of time, he might save money to buy those speakers and receive a superior audio experience as well as the delight of owning a premium brand.
Customer perceived risk
Because the price of the product is high and because the consumer has huge expectations from a high involvement product, there is a perceived risk involved in the purchase of the product. Example – A team of purchase managers decides to buy a state of the art equipment for their factory. This is a B2B high involvement purchase. Naturally, because the company is spending a huge amount for the new equipment, they have the fear that the machine should be high performing and efficient, else all the money and time invested will be wasted.
Not only in B2B, even in B2C the major constraint in purchasing a high involvement product is the perceived risk factor. What if you purchase a product and it does not work as per your expectations even after investing a large amount of money? This is where branding plays a crucial role – To handle the fear of the purchase and to sooth the customer.
Available Information / Company communications
Another factor which is characteristic of High involvement products is the amount of information that consumers seek out about the product before the purchase. When i wanted to purchase a Macbook (a high involvement purchase because my livelihood is dependent on my laptop), i researched and researched about the differences between a Macbook and a windows laptop for months.
There are sites dedicated to how Macbook works and the differences between Macbook and Windows laptops. Similarly, there are many review sites which compare televisions, high end cars, consumer appliances or anything else. These review sites give a lot of additional information of the product, which help the consumer in decision making.
Not only websites, Ebrochures, printed brochures, landing pages, E-commerce pages can all help the customer in gathering information about the product. The more information the customer has, the more likely he is going to purchase the product. So it is the job of the marketing manager of an organization to ensure marketing communications is upto mark and that the users are well informed.
After sales service
One of the reasons that a customer might reject the idea of buying a particular high involvement product is because he comes to know from reviews that the product has very poor after sales service. You don’t buy cars which don’t have spare parts. A company might not buy equipment which requires too much maintenance or where after sales service is poor.
The better the after sales service and customer satisfaction, the more is the likelihood of a high involvement product being sold off again and again. Hence, holistic marketing is a crucial component of high involvement purchases. A marketing organization has to present a unified front and it has to involve marketing in all aspects.