Return on Involvement (“the Other ROI”)

Imagine this conversation between two shoppers at a car dealership:

Consumer #1:   I want the one I read about in the latest issue of Car and Driver magazine: It has a six-cylinder turbo engine, a double-clutch transmission, a 90 strokebore, and 10:1 compression ratio.

Consumer #2:   I want a red one.

Involvement describes a person’s perceived relevance of the object based on their inherent needs, values, and interests.  Most marketers and salespeople grapple with the challenge of finding ways to get their customers interested in what they sell.  Indeed, a highly involved customer is The Holy Grail of Marketing.

Why is this so?

Our motivation to attain a goal increases our desire to acquire the products or services that we believe will satisfy it. However, as we see in the case of Consumer #2 at the car dealership, not everyone is motivated to the same extent. Involvement reflects our level of motivation to process information about a product or service we believe will help us to solve a problem or reach a goal.  Think of a person’s degree of involvement as a continuum that ranges from absolute lack of interest in a marketing stimulus at one end to obsession at the other.  Inertia  describes consumption at the low end of involvement, where we make decisions out of habit because we lack the motivation to consider alternatives.

As our involvement increases we think more about the product (“I’ve spent the last three days researching mortgage interest rates”) or we experience a strong emotional response (“I get goose bumps when I imagine what my daughter will look like in that bridal gown”).

Not surprisingly, we tend to find higher levels of involvement in product categories that demand a big investment of money (like houses) or self-esteem (like clothing) and lower levels for mundane categories like household cleaners or hardware. Still, bear in mind that virtually anything can qualify as highly involving to some people—just ask a “tool guy” to talk about his passion for hammers or plumbing supplies.

Cult products such as Apple, Hydrox, Harley-Davidson, Jones Soda, Chick-Fil-A, Manolo Blahnik designer shoes (think Carrie on Sex and the City), and the Boston Red Sox—command fierce consumer loyalty, devotion, and maybe even worship by consumers. A large majority of consumers agree that they are willing to pay more for a brand when they feel a personal connection to the company.

In our 24/7 world where consumers are bombarded with marketing messages, selling involvement is harder than ever.  But, it’s well worth the effort to explore strategies to boost customers’ motivation to acquire a product, service or specific brand.  This requires investment of time, money, — and especially creativity.  But the payoff is well worth it – this is what we can think of as Return on Involvement (“the other ROI”).

Join us for a one-hour webinar on May 11, 2017 and learn more about “the other ROI” with Michael Solomon.

Michael R. Solomon, Ph.D.
Photo Credit: Meghan Duthu