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Shopper attitudes


Attitudes are key to explaining buying behavior.25 They describe the predisposition of an individual to react in a consistent way to an object, a person, an institution or an incidence.26 That predisposition is the attitude, the positive or negative feeling toward a behavior or goal.27 A distinction can be made between cognitive (thinking), affective (feeling) and conative (acting) components of attitude.28

Competitive position by consumption need state

Figure 3.5 Competitive position by consumption need state

Example of beverages in Eastern Europe, In the horizontal dimension is the importance of the market and the importance of each consumption need state. On the vertical axis is the market share of the main manufacturers within each consumption need state. The total area of each consumption need state shows the competitive position of the manufacturers, as well as the opportunity for growth.

Source: Author

Motivations and occasions for adjacent categories

Figure 3.6 Motivations and occasions for adjacent categories

Example of alcoholic beverages. Analysis of motivations and occasions of consumption of alternative/ adjacent categories.

Source: Author

Attitude is not an observable construct, but attitudes must be deduced from the shopper’s behavior.29 That attitude-based behavioral predisposition of the shopper defines the way the shopper will inform himself and ultimately purchase a product and service. The attitude is the framework for the behavior of the shopper toward a specific potential purchase. Three dimensions of attitude can be distinguished in shopper marketing: involvement, planning and the shopping mission. This order of types of attitude also describes their internal hierarchy. The level of involvement influences planning, with a higher level of involvement usually implying more planning. In addition, a higher level of planning usually means a more organized shopping mission.

Components of attitudes

Figure 3.7 Components of attitudes

Cognitive and affective evaluation of an object or situation influences the attitude toward that object or situation, and leads to action, the conative component.

Source: Kuß & Tomczak, 2007

Dimensions of attitude in shopper marketing

Figure 3.8 Dimensions of attitude in shopper marketing

Dimensions of attitude in shopper marketing and their hierarchy of influence. The involvement influences the level of planning, which influences how the purchase is organized, i.e. the shopping mission.

Source: Author


Involvement generally describes the importance of a purchase to the shopper. The challenge is to define in what sense a purchase is important. One possibility is to see it as a cost in terms of the value of an erroneous purchase. Simplistically, it could be put as the price in relative terms of a product and service. The more expensive they are, the higher the involvement. Therefore, there are approaches that seek to lower the risk of a pur chase for the shopper through product tests or exchange policies. Another aspect of cost is the complexity associated with rectifying a purchase decision. One example are contracts, e.g. mobile or internet products and services. These contracts are for a certain period, i.e. when the contract is signed it is difficult to change, or changing it is associated with a certain cost. Therefore, it is a decision that has to be made with care. Other important costs of purchasing decisions are social costs. The chosen product and service has to work in the specific social environment of the shopper and consumer. It can be linked to the occasion of purchase or usage, with fashion or status. Involvement could be defined as the risk of failure and, therefore, there are different types of risk of a wrong decision or purchase: financial, complexity of change, or

The route to purchase 47 social cost. In addition, there is a dimension that is not the cost of failure; it is the emotional involvement, the identification with the product or brand. A good example is Apple. Clearly, the dimensions of involvement types can be interrelated: clothing can be associated with an important investment, or the change of a contractual supplier is not only complex, but can also be expensive. The social cost of an inexpensive product can be high, such as fashion accessories or gifts.

The concept of involvement in marketing was initiated with the measurement of involvement with advertisements.30 The concept has its origin in social psychology, specifically in the approach of social judgement-involvement (commitment to social judgements) to explain attitudes and changes in the same.31 There are three dimensions to this: acceptance, rejection and commitment.32 The impetus to change an attitude lies in the discrepancy between the message a person conveys and his real position. The concept of ego-involvement explains the involvement of a person with a social issue and it is at its highest when a topic is intrinsically important, i.e. a person identifies with or is committed to the topic.33 Sociopsychologists have investigated involvement in relation to persuasiveness in communication,34 but in marketing the use has been broader. Research has focused on involvement in products,35 personal involvement,36 purchase involvement,37 purchase decision involvement, involvement with brands,38 involvement and tasks,39 involvement with specific topics,40 involvement and service,41 involvement and advertisements.42 Further, associations between involvement and perceived risk of purchase and the change of brands,43 the type of product,44 the purchase decision,45 or a task or event46 with services,47 with advertisements and with the processing of messages48 have been analyzed.

There is not one definition and measurement of involvement, but different approaches, from one-dimensional to multidimensional.49 One important definition of involvement is the ability to generate excitement with a specific object (goal-directed arousal) and two types of motives govern this: cognitive motives related to the cost-benefit or the function, and affective motives related to symbolic dimensions, such as status and self-esteem.50 Involvement can be seen as a mediator of behavior or as behavior itself.51 When understanding involvement as a behavioral mediator the difference between general and situational involvement needs to be considered.52 General long-term involvement describes a relationship with a category that is manifested by the search for extensive information, brand awareness and a possible commitment to specific brands. It is defined as the level of psychological connection between an individual and an object, a product, a brand or an idea.53 Situational involvement is defined as a situation of temporary concern with an objective raised by a motive, such as perceived risk.54 It describes a shopper’s involvement in the specific purchase situation, and when that situation has passed the involvement also disappears.55 In situational involvement, the behavior may manifest itself in attention, price sensitivity or awareness of brand differences.56 For situational involvement the situation itself, i.e. the shopping mission, has an influence. For example, dining an emergency shopping mission the level of involvement with the brand is lower than during a regular shopping mission.57 Type of shopping mission and brand importance influence the level of situational involvement during the purchase, e.g. routine vs. emergency purchase, or when buying a gift.58 General involvement can be transformed into situational involvement during the purchase, but situational involvement cannot be transformed into general involvement.59

A more expensive product, such as a car or a new fashion product, normally triggers a higher level of information search, and drives general involvement. An example of a situational involvement could be diapers. This is an important product for parents of small children, but perhaps does not generate much attention before the purchase. However, during

Type and level of involvement

Figure 3.9 Type and level of involvement

Involvement matrix differentiated by level and type (general and situational).

Source: Author

the purchase, when comparing products, specific attributes may very well be important to the shopper, leading to in-depth evaluation of the potential alternatives. Activation, presentation, price or promotions can have a big impact on the purchase of situational involvement products and services.

General involvement often does not end with the purchase. Many times shoppers and consumers look for arguments for the choice made, to rationalize their decision and lower possible discrepancies due to the uncertainty of knowing whether the decision was the right one.60

To correctly activate products and services the involvement type and its drivers need to be evaluated. In cases of high involvement, the underlying drivers need to be understood. For example, if the driver is about the financial risk, there have to be arguments to lower it for the shopper, e.g. through product tests and exchange policies. If the involvement is driven by social considerations, the brand, product and service need to be in line with social expectations and positioned adequately. In terms of emotional drivers the brand, e.g. Apple, plays a key role.

When the involvement is low, brands, products and services need to draw attention, along the shopper journey, but specifically at the moment of purchase. The same is true for situational involvement.

For products and services with general involvement, the shopper journeys are usually longer and more complex with more points of contact and more need to lower the potential dissonance after the purchase.

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