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Understanding High-Involvement Purchases: A Case Study Analysis

Is it a high involvement decision?

I intentionally provide a longer analysis – to help you understand the terms better. Your stories will much be shorter (no longer than 400 words). You do not need to explain the terms that do not apply to your situation, only explain those terms that apply.

Is it a high involvement decision? The case does not explicitly state what kind of involvement was experienced by George. However, we see how much time and energy went into finding the right sofa: George spent at least two weeks looking for information, and several other people were involved: afriend, his girlfriend, his parents, and the department store’s sales assistant. There are also some details throughout the case that allow us to conclude that, for George, there was some perceived risk in making the wrong purchase. We can thus conclude from the details of the case that buying a sofa for George was,indeed, a high involvement purchase. In your stories you will know exactly why the purchase is relevant, important, and why there is some level of risk (we looked at 6 types of perceived risk when we discussed perception) – describe them.

Step 1. Problem recognition. George moved into a new apartment and wanted to buy a sofa. His old sofa was uncomfortable and the material was fraying - from this we can make a conclusion that it is a need recognition, because his actual state shifted down (definitions are given on page 225 in the textbook). If George’s existing sofa (from his brother) was comfortable and its material still looked new – he wouldn’t be looking to buy a new sofa. There is also a hint that it could also be a bit of an opportunity recognition: it is possible that the sofa looked just fine in George’s old apartment, but now in the new apartment, against the newly painted walls it is apparent how old and worn it is. The new apartment made  George’s ideal state to shift up. Thus, with both types of problem recognition at play, there is now a really wide gap between his actual state and his ideal state, as both of them moved away from each other. Be sure to explain why you classify your situation as a need or an opportunity recognition, or both.

Step 2. Information search. If George liked to visit furniture stores even before needing a sofa, and if he continued to visit stores even after buying all the furniture he needed, just for fun, we’d say his search was ongoing and not related to a specific goal. But from the case it sounds like George only started paying attention to sofas the moment he realized he needed to buy one. Thus, it was a goal-directed prepurchase search. George mostly relied on external search, because therewas not much in his memory to rely on (which would facilitate internal search). His external search involved discussing the options with his friend, his girlfriend, his parents, and a sales assistant; George used Google search and looked at several online furniture stores, and he physically visited several bargain stores and a department store. Wecan add that as George looked for information, during this stage of the process he was satisfying his functional and aesthetic needs (Do you agree? The definitions are given on page 226).

Step 3. Alternative evaluation. The case does not mention specific brands, but we can see how George came up with several options. His evoked set included several sofa options to buy from an online store and a physical department store. His consideration set included the options from his evoked set and also a bargain store (after he visited it with his girlfriend). The inept set included the options that he did not consider because he rejected them early on: buying armchairs instead of a sofa, or getting the sofa from his parents. We do not know about the inert set – these are the options that George didn’t come across in his search (he got tired of the process and wanted to be done), so they are not under any consideration. Note: George’s process included looking for information, evaluating the alternatives and applying his evaluative criteria often at the same time, so it might be hard to clearly separate the two chronologically.  However, it is not about when it happens, but how exactly the step progresses that allows us to identify which step it is.

Step 4. Choice. George went back to the website of the department store he had visited and bought a smaller size of the sofa he and his girlfriend liked in store. We read that for George it was important to find a sofa of the right size and colour. The price was important because George had just started working. Later on it became clear that the time of delivery was an important consideration – George was ready toreject a sofa because of the inconvenient delivery schedule. It is also mentioned that George was somewhat influenced by his girlfriend’s opinion.

Thus, his evaluative criteria were: size, colour, price, delivery schedule, social proof.

Step 5. Outcome of choice. George did not like the delay in delivery of his sofa, but the store compensated him and added a gift voucher (a smart move!) When the sofa was finally delivered, George was happy with his purchase (although he had a lot of packaging to get rid of) – which means that it confirmed to (met) his pre-purchase expectations (page 228). In your story, add your attribution of the satisfactory or unsatisfactory outcome.

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