A high involvement purchase exists when a consumer has to buy a product or service that is expensive, or that poses the risk of significant emotional consequences if a mistake is made. When a consumer engages in a complex or involving buying process, his behaviors are typically different than they are in a less involving situation.

High Involvement Factors

The importance of a product or service to the buyer, or the emotional significance of the purchase, correlate directly with the level of involvement. When you buy expensive products, relative to your budget, the decision is normally highly involving because of the risks of making a bad purchase. Social and personal risks play a role as well. When buying clothes, for instance, fitting in and appearing sociable is important to many consumers. This factor makes clothing purchase involving for such buyers.

High Involvement Examples

While individual budgets impact the level of involvement, some products or services are fairly involving for the vast majority of consumers. Houses, cars, and major equipment and appliances are usually involving for most because of the expense and importance of these items to the purchaser. Services such as roofing, lawn care and child care are also involving for many buyers because of the cost and importance. By contrast, products like candy, toothpaste and paper towels are normally less involving because of their low cost and limited emotional risk.

Buying Process

The consumer decision-making process is affected when a product purchase is more involving as well. In particular, the information search phase is extended. This stage follows need recognition. Once you realize you need or want something, you search for information, formulate options, and evaluate the options to narrow them down. In a more involving decision, you tend to spend much more time researching. This research may include online searches for reviews and consumer opinions, calls to friends and family, and time interacting with sales and service employees at companies.

Risks and Rewards

Ultimately, buyers want to get the greatest rewards and minimize the potential for negative outcomes in a highly involving purchase. A successful purchase can lead to maximum personal or professional gains from the use of the product or service, and to long-lasting results. A bad purchase leads to wasted money, negative impressions in social or professional groups, and the need to purchase another solution to better meet your needs.