Product category involvement explained

What is product involvement?

Some scientific insights

To make less obvious advertising work, it should meet an appropriate goal of the consumers (Bermeitinger et al. 2009; Karremans, Stroebe, and Claus 2006; Strahan, Spencer, and Zanna 2002). This not only reffers to current needs. The consumer should rather have a basic need to pursue the goal (Sela and Shiv 2009). In addition, the advertisement should appeal to the consumer’s experiences that can trigger the goal or at least support it (Bargh, Chen, and Burrows 1996; Dijksterhuis et al. 2000; Dijksterhuis and van Knippenberg 1998) – this not only appeals to the situation but also to the product.

Involvement is “a person’s perceived relevance of the advertisement based on inherent needs, values, and interests” (Zaichkowsky 1985) and therefore a motivational construct that is based (among other things) on the values ​​and needs of a person (Zaichkowsky 1986). Accordingly, product involvement is a good way to draw conclusions regarding the conditions in the context of subliminal advertising, as this also consideres needs as well as goals. Moreover, depending on the used scale, it is well measurable (Zaichkowsky 1985, 1994).

At the same time, product involvement is closely connected to the construct of “Consideration Set”, as the involvement theory is based on the fact that consumers do not rationally consider every detail when making a purchase decision – it is even more relevant what importance they give to a product based on their individual needs (Zaichkowsky 1985). Involvement determines how many resources consumers invest in their decision-making process and the search for information, which in turn can affect their consideration set (Howard and Sheth 1969; Laurent and Kapferer 1985).

When consumers are highly involved with the product, recognition of a product placement and also defensive reactions are more likely to occur (Gardner, Mitchell, and Russo 1985; Zaichkowsky 1986).



Bargh, John A., Mark Chen, and Lara Burrows (1996), “Automaticity of Social Behavior: Direct Effects of Trait Construct and Stereotype-Activation on Action,” Journal of personality and social psychology, 71 (2), 230–44.

Bermeitinger, Christina, Ruben Goelz, Nadine Johr, Manfred Neumann, Ullrich K. Ecker, and Robert Doerr (2009), “The Hidden Persuaders Break into the Tired Brain,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45 (2), 320–26.

Dijksterhuis, Ap, Henk Aarts, John A. Bargh, and Ad van Knippenberg (2000), “On the Relation between Associative Strength and Automatic Behavior,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 36 (5), 531–44.

Dijksterhuis, Ap and Ad van Knippenberg (1998), “The Relation Between Perception and Behavior, or How to Win a Game of Trivial Pursuit,” Journal of personality and social psychology, 74 (4), 865–77.

Gardner, Meryl P., Andrew A. Mitchell, and J. E. Russo (1985), “Low Involvement Strategies for Processing Advertisements,” Journal of Advertising, 14 (2), 4–56.

Howard, John A. and Jagdish N. Sheth (1969), The Theory of Buyer Behavior, New York: Wiley.

Karremans, Johan C., Wolfgang Stroebe, and Jasper Claus (2006), “Beyond Vicary’s Fantasies: The Impact of Subliminal Priming and Brand Choice,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 42 (6), 792–98.

Laurent, Gilles and Jean-Noël Kapferer (1985), “Measuring Consumer Involvement Profiles,” Journal of Marketing Research, 22 (1), 41–53.

Sela, Aner and Baba Shiv (2009), “Unraveling Priming: When Does the Same Prime Activate a Goal versus a Trait?” Journal of Consumer Research, 36 (3), 418–33.

Strahan, Erin J., Steven J. Spencer, and Mark P. Zanna (2002), “Subliminal Priming and Persuasion: Striking While the Iron is Hot,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 38 (6), 556–68.

Zaichkowsky, Judith Lynne (1985), “Measuring the Involvement Construct,” Journal of Consumer Research, 12 (December), 341–52.

________ (1986), “Conceptualizing Involvement,” Journal of Advertising, 15 (2), 4–14.

________ (1994), “The Personal Involvement Inventory: Reduction, Revision, and Application to Advertising,” Journal of Advertising, 23 (4), 59–70.


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Jens Kürschner

Author: Jens Kürschner

Jens Kürschner is founder and managing director of Placedise. As an expert in the field of consumer behavior and media enthusiast, he is especially responsible for the product know-how. In our blog, this knowledge and the experience of many years of research and study will be shared with you.

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