The evolution of decision making
How men's purchasing decisions change as they progress through different stages in life and the importance of their 'involvement' in those decisions is revealed in data from Carat's CCS study.
Choice of lager remains an important decision throughout a man's life
Established theory seeks to distinguish between ‘high involvement’ and ‘low involvement’ purchase decisions. High involvement purchases are those which require the investment of a larger quantity of money (or other resources such as time).
Low involvement purchases tend to be relatively cheap, or where behaviour has been automated over time. Both high and low involvement decisions can be driven by rational needs based on logic, or by more impulsive, emotional needs.
Various internal and external factors can influence how involved a consumer will be when making their decision, from the information the consumer has at the time of purchase, to the prevailing social norms.
For example, when deciding what breakfast cereal to buy, you may simply choose the brand you always buy, or you may just want to try the product that you have seen advertised recently.
However you may have recently become more conscious of the sugar content in the cereal you buy and are concerned about how much your children are consuming - so this time you decide to become more involved, spending a little longer in the aisle comparing the sugar content of different cereals before you make your choice.
In reality consumers are constantly reappraising their purchase decisions, so goods can become significantly more or less important over time.
To illustrate these changing perceptions Carat’s CCS study has sought to quantify those things men deliberate about most at different stages in their lifetime.
The single man
Single men are more likely to be involved in decisions relating to their own enjoyment. Decisions that matter a lot to them include buying music (for 36% of this group), fizzy drinks (for 19%) and lager (for 19%), as they seek to maximise consumption in their spare time.
Giving money to charity is also more likely to be an important decision, as 20% of this group agrees that it matters a lot - perhaps suggesting a heightened social or political awareness.
However, another possible explanation is that the decision to donate is considered alongside the alternative things that money could buy, making it a far more involving choice.
The man in a relationship
The priorities of men in relationships differ from single men as they are more likely to focus on expensive decisions, such as cars (for 23% of this group) and holidays (for 27%), perhaps because they now have a significant other to share these with.
Men in relationships are also likely to care more about what clothes they buy (45% agree that these decisions matter a lot), suggesting that they still wish to express their individuality and look presentable. Finally, choice of lager remains important to 18% of this group.
The married man
Once married, the priorities of men change again, becoming less likely to be involved in many decisions, except when choosing where to go on holiday, where 28% of this group are still engaged. In terms of their personal consumption, 18% remain involved in their choice of lager.
Top seven decisions by importance, by marital status:
Source: Carat CCS
Whether or not a segment of your audience is involved in a consumption decision can be an important consideration when crafting marketing strategies.
For example, for some products the highly engaged audience may want to know more about what they are buying before they purchase, so informative or emotionally engaging advertising might be more appropriate.
In contrast, for certain less engaging decisions consumers will want to make their purchases as quickly as possible, so advertising that seeks to motivate trial or interrupt automated behaviour may be more appropriate.
Richard Morris, head of planning at Carat
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