Information Searches and Product Involvement

Information Searches

Consumers are involved in the process of seeking information that relates to the product they intend to purchase. The process of seeking information is on an ongoing basis prior to the purchase of the product and after. The information search determines the recognition of the products available and the involvement in the product that determines the purchase process (Hawkins & Motherbaugh, 2012). The purchase process entails the contemporary state of an individual about buying a product. Marketers normally seek for the moments when the consumers can easily be influenced or are open to influence. For many decades the moments for influencing the customers have been regarded as touchpoints (Williams, 2002). The following paper discusses the information searches and product involvement.

Product Involvement

Involvement refers to the importance and social significance a consumer attaches to a purchase. The first decision in the process of purchasing entails problem recognition. Horsky and Posavac (2004) noted that it is only after a consumer recognizes that he/she needs a product that the process of searching for the product is ignited. The process has various influences that depend on the type of product. For example, a product may be of low, medium or high involvement.

Low involvement products entail the consumable items that do not require a lot of consideration on the consumer’s part before buying the product. According to Williams (2002), the low involvement products do not have lifestyle implications on the consumer. Therefore, they are not viewed as a significant investment. The low involvement products are purchased habitually, thus deciding to purchase them does not require a lengthy decision-making process. A product that is perceived as low involvement implies that consumers move directly from problem recognition to choice (Percy, 2015). The consumers do not spend time and energy in searching for alternatives because the decision is limited to internal search.

Moderate involvement purchase entails the simple decisions that consumers make regarding some products. However, in the medium involvement, the consumer engages in the evaluation of a few alternatives in which both the internal and external information search are involved (Hawkins & Motherbaugh, 2012). For example in the purchase of a dress, the consumer may evaluate the color or the social significance of the dress being purchased. On the other hand, the high involvement purchase refers to the buying decisions that relate to expensive products. The products are considered only after a careful decision-making process. According to Hawkins and Motherbaugh (2012), the high involvement products are likely to go through all the decision making processes. Shiv and Huber (2000) noted that the consumer feels obligated to make an informed decision to avoid negative consequences and risks that characterize the after purchase.

Consumer Information Search

The purchasing decisions made by consumers are influenced by various factors. The factors influence the movement of products from the first stage of product recognition to the purchase and post-purchase. Problem recognition is a key factor that producers should consider. According to Hawkins and Motherbaugh (2012), problem recognition is based on the interaction between the personal desire and the actual state. The problem recognition takes place when there are significant differences between the component of the desired state and the actual state. Various factors stimulate or inhibit the problem recognition.

Based on the level of decision making, makers of products normally apply marketing effort to influence the problem recognition. Consumers normally view products as a bundle of attributes in which they have to explore the various attributes before settling on a product. According to Peter & Olson (2010), the producers of a product have the opportunity to trigger the problem recognition and influence the desired state in the target consumers’ minds. For instance, the application of advertising and personal selling to influence perceptions of the customers. Direct selling may make a customer decide to purchase a product. The problem recognition is based on the creation of relevant information in order to determine the potential solutions to the problem. The personalization of information to the specific needs of the customer and the addition of relevant information ensures that customers are enticed to search for information on the product.

Problem recognition is normally influenced by different factors. The core factors include the situational, consumer and marketing factors. The combination of the factors or single factors influences the problem recognition. The triggers are thus essential pointers used by marketers of products in designing information for promotion services. The situational influences include the circumstances that trigger the need to purchase. For instance, a broken product may necessitate the need to replace the product. When a vehicle runs out of fuel, the driver is forced to refuel at the nearest point. Besides, environmental or lifestyle changes may make consumers recognize the need for a new product. On the other hand, the consumer influences include the motivational arousal factors that drive consumers to action. Different people have varying motivations when it comes to buying behaviors. Personality traits, internal factors, and the social factors influence the motives to buy.

The information that the marketers provide can result in triggering problem recognition. The problem recognition then triggers the consumers’ perception to engage in the evaluation of the actual and the desired states. Some of the actions include the price information, application of promotional activities such as advertising, product or service development that relate to new technology and place actions. According to Peter and Olson (2010), place actions include the availing of the product to the consumer’s proximity or the ability to use the internet to purchase the product.

In the low involvement purchase, makers of products can apply strategies that promote brand loyalty to trigger the problem recognition and the consideration for the product. Low involvement is based on internal search. Therefore, the makers of products should engage in providing information that creates awareness and influences the cognition of the consumer. In the medium involvement purchase, decision making is limited and the problem recognition is generic. The information search is internal but also extends to external but on a limited basis (Hawkins & Motherbaugh, 2012). Even though the decision-making process is limited, the medium involvement entails alternative evaluation. The evaluation has few attributes which inform the purchase. Due to the nature of the products, the post-purchase is characterized by no dissonance and limited evaluation. The use of advertising can form the basis of promotion. Also, direct selling can be used to trigger medium involvement purchase.

Finally, in high involvement purchases, the decision process is normally extended. The problem recognition is generic and the information search is both internal and external (Hawkins & Motherbaugh, 2012). There are alternatives to the purchase which is characterized by many attributes and complex decision rules and alternatives that inform the purchase. In high involvement purchases, consumers apply both internal and external information searches. The external search entails consulting friends, making comparisons, and information reviews about the product. The actions that marketers can use to enhance high involvement purchase include situational factors, aligning the product to lifestyle and on time selling. Therefore, the maker’s products need to avail a lot of information in terms of brochures, web sites and other sources that reach the consumers and subsequently trigger the problem recognition.

Product Pictures

Low Involvement Product Pictures

Low Involvement Product Pictures
Low Involvement Product Pictures

Medium Involvement Product Pictures

Medium Involvement Product Pictures
Medium Involvement Product Pictures

High Involvement Product Pictures

High Involvement Product Pictures
High Involvement Product Pictures

Information Categories

Nominal decision making involves habitual buying practices. Thus, the decision making process almost zero as there is already a preferred brand that the consumer is used to purchasing. The nominal decision normally takes place when there is low involvement in the product being purchased. Thus there is no consideration of what to purchase. It is predetermined due to loyalty to a given brand or repeated use of the brand. Limited decision making involves both the internal and external information search but it is limited to a few alternatives (Hawkins & Motherbaugh, 2012). The decisions made entail internal information search and limited external search. On the other hand, high involvement purchase involves an intensive search of both the internal and external information and there is a complex evaluation of the alternatives available. The low involvement pictures are appropriate for low involvement purchases in which information search is limited to internal search. On the other hand, the medium involvement products are appropriate for the limited decision making as they present alternatives that are not complex. The high involvement products such as cars, houses, and electronics fall in the category of high involvement purchase in which both the internal and external information search are extensively applied to inform the purchase decisions.

Alternate Strategies

To increase the sales for the high involvement purchases, makers of the products should provide a lot of information on the products. The information should highlight why the products are superior to the competing brands and why they fit the customers. Another strategy will entail customization of products’ information to meet the needs of the customers. In addition to the information, personal selling should be used in order to address the consumers concerns directly. Such a strategy will reduce the post-purchase dissonance. In the low involvement products, the alternative would include the use of sales promotions such as the use of samples to create awareness and loyalty. The other alternative is to increase the distribution of the product to reach many locations. The strategy should be followed by promotions that enhance routine response among the consumers.

There are various sets of products that can be used to solve the problems of consumers. The alternatives include the inert set which is made of brands that consumers know about and neutrally perceive them. The brands are considered for purchase by consumers if the consumers lack their favorite alternatives. The inept set comprises of the products the customers are aware of but have negative perceptions on them, thus they are the avoided alternatives. The other alternative is the provision of the evoked set, which includes brands from a single category that are evaluated and considered positive by consumers. Thus they provide an alternative that could solve the problem of the consumers.

Perceptual Map

Perceptual Map
Perceptual Map

Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation criteria to determine the suitability of the product in the perception maps will entail both the direct and indirect measures. An example of direct method entails the interview of the consumers to determine their preferences. The interview provides first-hand information on the perception of the consumers and their inclination to given products (Horsky & Posavac, 2004). According to Hawkins and Motherbaugh (2012), an example of an indirect measure is the conjoint analysis. The conjoint analysis entails presenting the consumer with a set of products and descriptions of the products that have varying evaluative criteria. The customer ranks the products based on the preferences and various attributes. Therefore, the products are ranked in the order of importance. The attribute that are applied include the price, quality, durability. The evaluation is based on the accuracy of the individual judgment. However, Hawkins & Motherbaugh (2012) noted that the average consumers may no adequately judge competing brands.

Conclusion

Information search is a key component of the decision-making process in relation to a product purchase. The information search is categorized into internal and external searches. The type of the search depends on the product involvement. In the low involvement purchase, information search is limited to internal. In the medium involvement, the information search entails both the internal and extends to external but on a limited basis. In making decisions that relate to high involvement purchase, an extensive search is used in which both the internal and external searches are included. The initial process of information search is normally problem recognition. The makers of the products thus need to understand the levels of involvement to strategize on ways to increase sales.

References

Hawkins, D., & Mothersbaugh, D. (2012). Consumer Behavior: Building Marketing Strategy. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Horsky, D., & Posavac, S. (2004). Stating Preference for the Ethereal but Choosing the Concrete. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 14 (2), 132–40.

Percy, L. (2015). The Role of Emotion in Processing Low Involvement Advertising. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Peter, J., & Olson, J. (2010). Consumer Behavior and Marketing Strategy. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Shiv, B., & Huber, J. (2000). The Impact of Anticipating Satisfaction on Consumer Choice. Journal of Consumer Research, 1 (1), 202–16.

Williams, T. G. (2002). Social class influences on purchase evaluation criteria. Journal of consumer marketing, 19 (3), 249-276.