Attitudes, involvement and consumer behaviour : a longitudinal study in fast moving consumer goods markets
An empirical study is reported which attempts to validate two key theoretical consequences of consumer involvement: differences in brand buying behaviour and differences in the type of decision processing undertaken. A literature review is provided which traces the history of involvement and identifies a suitable contemporary framework. Work on brand loyalty and attitude modelling is also reviewed and suitable frameworks identified. A pilot stage is reported which shows how involvement measurement techniques can be adapted for use among frequently purchased products. Results from reliability testing and differences in the mean levels of involvement for six grocery product categories are reported. A main fieldwork phase is reported where a consumer panel was operated for four months (n=191). Data on levels of involvement, decision making and purchasing behaviour were collected from the panel using surveys and diary sheets for three product categories: newspapers, breakfast cereals and paper kitchen towels. The relationship between sources of involvement and buying behaviour was analysed using LISREL. A model of involvement is identified which suggests that brand involvement is generated by the risks associated with making a poor brand choice and the levels of pleasure associated with the product field. For newspapers, the modelling identifies a significant (but small) relationship between involvement and devotion of purchasing to a limited number of brands. This relationship was not significant in the other two product fields. Further analysis identifies four classifications of buying behaviour (habitual, loyal, switchers, and variety seekers) which helps to explain why the linear relationship is so weak. A second analysis phase is reported which examines the utility of the Extended Fishbein Model for each of the three product categories. This analysis supports the notion that decision processing is more extensive where the level of product involvement is higher. The theoretical and managerial implications of the findings are discussed. Strengths and limitations of the research design are reviewed.