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  • Vincent Bissette


“Consumer involvement theory” sounds intimidating. However, you don’t need a marketing degree to understand it, it’s actually a really simple concept and can help give small business owners a sense of direction.

Understanding your target market is an effective tool in creating successful marketing and branding strategies for your company. Understanding how much consideration your good or service requires and whether the purchase is rational or emotional is known as consumer involvement theory.


* Level Of Involvement This indicates how much time, thought, energy, and resources a person will devote to a purchase.

*Rational / Emotional Investment This measures the emotional and logical parts of consumer purchase decisions against each other.

There are 4 variations of consumer involvement.


This category of involvement is usually linked to high cost, high-end products like cars or financial services. Emotionally, depending on whether a particular customer purchased the item for a purely functional purpose, or for an expression of status, marketing, advertising or branding campaign can be implemented to target them.

At Propel we found this when working with companies in the care home sector. Consumers had a large decision ahead of them and required a large amount of information and reassurance before making their final decision.

Companies in this sector are more likely to generate sales using long-term information-dense approaches to marketing such as providing brochures and arranging one on one meetings with potential customers.


Products that fall into this category should emphasise how the consumer is likely to feel after purchasing the good. This applies to luxury products that are seen as status symbols but aren’t utility purchases. This category would include items such as jewellery, weddings, and holiday plans. Consumers can consequently be targeted in the visual and emotional way that appeals to them.

A successful High involvement emotional campaign would be easy jets recent campaign as it focuses primarily on the positive emotions associated with travelling. A less successful campaign would be Ryan air’s as it relies on facts and figures instead of emotions. This would be more appropriate for a high involvement rational campaign.


Habitual purchases, such as groceries and stationery, are low involvement and rationally based. In this case, the preferred goal of advertising is to get people to sample a new product or to switch for something else since there is no specific emotional attachment to any particular product anyway.

Two things are important for products in this category, convenience and utility. If the product is available and does what is said on the tin then consumers will buy.

Unfortunately, these products tend to generate little brand loyalty as consumers do not have a strong emotional attachment to them and there is no financial barrier to switching suppliers.


Items that engender an emotional response, yet are still fleeting, fall under this categorisation, including chocolates, magazines, and birthday cards. Targeted advertising here would emphasise instant gratification and benefit. Strong positioning can help bolster this approach, particularly if the product market is crowded.

This is often seen in items places around the point of sale to encourage customers to make an irrational last-minute impulse buy. Supermarkets often place energy-boosting snacks around checkout areas to tempt tired shoppers into indulging in a sweet treat and adding one last thing to their basket.

Low involvement and emotional marketing campaigns can be utilised by industries such as bakers and fast food who’s calorie-dense treats are the perfect tool to override consumers rational health-conscious minds, encouraging hem to make a purchase on a whim simply because their mouths were watering.


Consumer involvement theory is a framework marketers use to understand how involved consumers are when they interact with a product or message. Using this framework we take into account; involvement and rational/emotional investment. This lets us estimate how much time and resources consumers will invest in a buying decision as well as the type of information that they are aiming to seek out.

SME's can use consumer involvement theory to allow them to be flexible in their marketing and tailor their efforts around their customers wants and needs.

About the author: Vincent Bissette is a freelance Brand Strategy and Design Consultant with over 30 years experience of branding and rebranding businesses and organisations, systematically, thoroughly and objectively. He has worked in major Design Consultancies as well as having run his own agency for 25 years, working with SMEs all over the UK to help them modernise their brand, grow their business, attract new customers, penetrate new markets and increase their sales, market share and profit. Throughout that time, there’s not much he hasn't done or many industries he hasn't worked in. He’s a creative, strategic thinker and problem solver with a wealth of experience in diagnosing trouble spots in brands and discovering their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Now based in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, he works throughout the entire UK.

Get in touch with him on Linkedin here

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