HomeDissertation:Rethinking BtoB Communications from the Perspective of Involvement

Rethinking BtoB Communications from the Perspective of Involvement

2.Evaluating Net-Based Communications from the Perspective of Involvement

Next, let us take a look at marketing communication. It is a fact that the net has revolutionized the communication environment. However, while it may seem that net communication has almost no limits, it also encompasses a fundamental contradiction. But before dealing with this question further, one needs to consider the aspect of involvement.

The word “involvement” of course is used in a wide range of meanings. In the current context, it should be defined as “the degree of interest in a product itself and in its purchase and related communication.” It is easily understandable by intuition that whether a person has a high or low degree of interest in a certain subject will affect their decisions and actions with regard to that subject. Within the wide body of research into involvement, the so-called elaboration likelihood model proposed by Petty and Cacioppo in 1986 is well known. This model describes how attitudes are formed and changed, and it explains the process by which a consumer’s attitude toward a product is shaped by contact with persuasive communication. An important aspect of the model that has been widely accepted is the distinction between two types of processing, namely, the central route and the peripheral route. The former pertains to a consumer who is already motivated for information processing and also has the capability for it, while the latter pertains to a consumer who lacks one or the other. With the central route, communication that elaborates on the content of information will have an effect on the attitude of the consumer. By contrast, the peripheral route engenders a change of attitude based on more peripheral communication.

In the following, I will attempt to put this concept into a contemporary context. It is often pointed out that in net marketing and communication, unlike in mass marketing, the recipient can be chosen selectively (accurate targeting), which allows more effective communication and produces results more reliably. In order to increase effectiveness, communication targeting consumers or customers with a high degree of involvement is desirable. As mentioned above, however, the net environment facilitates autonomous information collection and dissemination. This means that an interested person may already possess information and have a well-developed sense of discrimination, which is likely to make that person less receptive to persuasion. On the other hand, a person with a low degree of involvement will tend to make decisions not based on central messages but on peripheral aspects and will probably not be able to fully understand specialized, elaborate messages aimed at high-involvement recipients.

This becomes even clearer when we apply it to the BtoB sector. A customer with high involvement in a particular product category may not be easily persuaded by simple information, and conversely, providing information aimed at high-involvement customers to customers with low involvement will most likely produce only a feeble response. A strategy that at first glance seemed effective can therefore prove to be much less so in reality.

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