Foote Cone Belding, an international advertising, public relations, and direct agency, has prepared an offer chart which I share with you.
High involvement means just what it says. Your audience will get very much involved with a buying decision.
Low involvement is the opposite. Its something your audience will buy, but is a product or service they dont really consider seriously.
Think means its a product or service your best audience seriously considers. A tremendous amount of brain power and probably personal effort goes into this kind of a buying decision.
Feel indicates a higher level of emotion entering into the buying consideration.
Lets look at an example using the FCB chart. A high involvement-think item is a 35mm camera. If you are a camera buff or somebody in your family or one of your friends is seriously interested in photography, you can certainly understand why this would be a high involvement-think buying decision.
Not too long ago I took a trip into the Himalayas. Since I enjoy photography I took two cameras with me. We trekked at altitudes over 12,000 feet. Where our canteens of water froze solid every night. And, so did our cameras!
Each morning we had to wait until the sun came up in order to operate the cameras. The plastic inside the cameras became exceptionally brittle, the lubrication fluids seemed to freeze, and the cameras were inoperable until the sun warmed them each morning.
Shortly after that trip I also spent 3 weeks sailing around Antarctica. Since my experience in the Himalayas had been frustrating, I went looking for a camera that wouldnt freeze in extremely cold weather. A very high involvement-thinking process! (In fact, I could not find a new camera that didnt have plastic in it. I had to buy a used one that had all metal parts.)
You undoubtedly agree buying a camera is a very high involvement-think buying decision.
A high involvement-feel process is getting a new pair of eyeglasses. Or contact lenses. Again, if you wear glasses or contacts you can certainly relate to this. Particularly when your prescription changes. Or you get bifocals for the first time. Lots of feel with glasses.
You may look at the FCB chart and not agree with where they have put the dots. I dont. For example, I think the family car is much more a think item than they seem to indicate. Yes, emotion enters into it greatly, but I personally would have put it in the think quadrant very close to the feel line.
Martin Gross, a direct marketing consultant and excellent copywriter, also talks about high and low involvement. In his case he talks it with a media slant.
In the language of marketing, direct mail and print are high involvement, while television and radio are low involvement.
This has nothing to do with their effectiveness. Listening to the radio or watching television are passive activities. Reading mail or a print ad is an action activity. Both can work when the message is of interest. What makes them effective is the right offer to the right audience at the right time. Boring is OUTinteresting is IN!
No matter, you need to look at your product/service and decide not only if it is unique or a commodity, if you are a known or unknown company in that marketplace, but also how your audience will look at it: high involvement, low involvement, think, feel.