Challenge Facing Low Involvement Categories

There is no doubt that the web as a medium is of paramount importance. This is clearly evident for B2B offerings as well as for high involvement consumer products and services, where customers habitually search for vendors on the internet. But what about mega brands in low involvement categories?

A Google study of “heat maps” (Google, April 2011) revealed that for travel, automotive, technology and a range of financial products and services, most consumers search online for information, sometimes weeks or months in advance of their purchase, and that the search has a strong influence on their purchasing decision. On the other hand for groceries, beauty and personal care, over-the-counter (OTC) health, and restaurants, the decision making process occurs at the point and time of purchase.

When it comes to buying FMCG products, it is unlikely that the consumer will seek information or advice on the net. Most of the time for FMCG shopping, she habitually picks brands in her repertoire from the supermarket shelves. It is possible that for specialized personal care or exotic foods, she will sometimes consult the web, yet she will not have the inclination to do so for the vast majority of the items that are found in her shopping basket.

So how should a soda, soap or shampoo brand engage with consumers on the internet?

We know that while consumers do not usually go to the net to decide what shampoo to buy, they do go there for information on hair care issues. Sites that attract traffic bear content that relates to topics that consumers are interested in. While a Sunsilk brochure on the net will not attract much interest, a discussion on hair fall could generate interest in a variant of the brand.

Similarly for advertising on the net, if a campaign has ambitions of going viral it must tap into people’s interests, passions, concerns and emotions. Dove talks about real beauty. Coca-Cola talks about happiness, togetherness and harmony. They both talk about the values people cherish, the concerns people are passionate about, and they tap into people’s feelings and emotions to stimulate and arouse their attention. It is classical conditioning at work; the brand starts to represent those values and emotions that the advertising evokes.

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