Brand Choice Involvement and Commitment: Two Different Though Related Concepts

ABSTRACT - Brand choice involvement and commitment are shown to be two conceptually and operationally different, thought related concepts. Two (Dutch) scales are developed to measure both concepts. This scales successfully met standards for internal reliability, content-, criterion-, discriminant- and construct validity.



Citation:

Jose M.M. Bloemer (1998) ,"Brand Choice Involvement and Commitment: Two Different Though Related Concepts", in E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, eds. Basil G. Englis and Anna Olofsson, Provo, UT : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 21-31.

European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3, 1998      Pages 21-31

BRAND CHOICE INVOLVEMENT AND COMMITMENT: TWO DIFFERENT THOUGH RELATED CONCEPTS

Jose M.M. Bloemer, Limburg University Centre, Belgium

ABSTRACT -

Brand choice involvement and commitment are shown to be two conceptually and operationally different, thought related concepts. Two (Dutch) scales are developed to measure both concepts. This scales successfully met standards for internal reliability, content-, criterion-, discriminant- and construct validity.

INTRODUCTION

This article will address the conceptualization of brand choice involvement and commitment and it will go into operationalization of both concepts in a specific language (Dutch). It will show that brand choice involvement and commitment are two different though related concepts. A lot of different definitions of both concepts can be found in the marketing and consumer behavior literature. Sometimes, even commitment is defined in terms of (brand choice) involvement or the other way around. This makes it hard to find a proper conceptual definition for both concepts and even harder to measure both concept in a valid and reliable way.

First, we will discuss the (brand choice) involvement concept and the commitment concept and come up with a, in our view, proper conceptual definition for both concepts. Second we will go into the measurement of brand choice involvement and commitment and present different ways in which the concepts were measured. Third, we will come up with our own (Dutch) operationalization of brand choice involvement and commitment. Next we will discuss this in terms of validity and reliability. We will end the article with some concluding remarks with regard to the conceptualization and operationalization of brand choice involvement and commitment and the precautions that have to be taken when translating valid and reliable scales into other languages.

THE CONCEPT OF BRAND CHOICE INVOLVEMENT

For the first time, as far as we know, the involvement concept was used in 1947 by Sherif and Cantril. Ever since, the number of popular terms to modify involvement has become large: product, brand choice, enduring, situational, ego, purchase, cognitive, affective, high, low, advertising and many others. In our view, one should make a basic distinction between on the one hand product (Mittal and Lee 1988; Zaichowsky 1985 ) or enduring (Houston and Rothschild 1978) or ego (Beatty et al. 1988) involvement and on the other hand brand choice (Mittal and Lee 1988; Zaichowsky 1985) or situational (Houston and Rothschild 1978) or purchase (Beatty et al. 1988) involvement. With regard to a study we did on the relationship between consumer satisfaction and brand loyalty we were mostly interested in the concept of brand choice involvement (Bloemer 1993; Bloemer and Kasper 1995). For that reason we restrict ourselves to the concept of brand choice involvement.

Furthermore, Rajaniemi and Laaksonen (1986) and Costley (1988) distinguish three different categories of definitions of involvement: 1) response based approaches, 2) individual state approaches and 3) cognitive approaches. Response based definitions determine involvement by describing the different static or dynamic responses of an individual created by a stimulus object (e.g. Batra and Ray 1983; Houston and Rothschild 1978). Individual state definitions focus on the mental state of an individual evoked by a stimulus of stimuli when determining involvement (e.g. Cohen 1983; Mittal 1989a; Park and Young 1984). The cognitive-based approaches stress the cognitive linkage between an individual and an object (or activity) when determining the content of involvement (e.g. Engel and Blackwell 1982; Lastovicka and Gardner 1977; Zaichowsky 1986). Definitions in this realm focus on relevance, importance and interest. We prefer the cognitive-based approach because it fits best within the study on the relationship between consumer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

A lot of differnt definitions of involvement can be found in the literature, even when we restrict ourselves to brand choice involvement and a cognitive perspective. We prefer the definition of brand choice involvement or Mittal and Lee (1989). They define brand choice involvement as:

the interest in the brand decision.

Involvement is mainly operationalized by Likert-scales and semantic differential scales. The best known semantic differential scales is the one of Zaichowsky (1985). This scale is especially suitable for measuring product involvement. However, Zaichowsky suggests it can also be used to measure brand choice involvement with some minor modifications. Nevertheless, McQuarrie and Munson (1985) had some problems with this operationalization of brand choice involvement and warn the reader to be careful with it.

Well known Likert-scales for the measurement of brand choice involvement are constructed by Laurent and Kapferer (1985), Ratchford (1987), Mittal and Lee (1988, 1989); Mittal (1989b); Cullen and Edget (1991) and Verplanken (1991).

THE CONCEPT OF COMMITMENT

The commitment concept, as well as the involvement concept, was originally defined in psychology. The first definition in the consumer behavior literature, as far as we know, is from Gerard (1965). He defines commitment as decisions that fix or freeze behavior. Other definitions of commitment can be found by Beatty et al. (1988) Crosby and Taylor (1983), Hollenbeck et al. (1989), Hunt et al. (1989), Kiesler (1968), Lee and Zeiss (1980) and Ulrich (1989). In conjunction with our research on the relationship between consumer satisfaction and brand loyalty we prefer the definition of Kiesler (1968) which is also in line with the definition of Lastovicka and Gardner (1977). We define commitment as:

the pledging or binding of an individual to his/her brand choice.

Commitment is mainly operationalized by Likert-scales. Beatty et al. (1988), Mittal and Lee (1989) and Lastovicka and Gardner (1977), provide suitable scales for the measurement of the commitment to a product or a brand.

The relation between involvement and commitment

The nature of the relation between involvement and commitment has led to some confusion in the literature. For example, Robertson (1976) utilize Krugman’s (1965) notion of low involvement to discuss low-commitment consumer behavior. He defines commitment as the strength of the individual’s belief system with regard to a product or brand. Freedman’s (1964) perspective is helpful in making a distinction between the two concepts. He notes that involvement can refer to a particular position on a brand or an issue (i.e. commitment) or to a general level of interest or concern in an issue without reference to a specific position (i.e. involvement). This perspective s similar to the distinction made by Zaltman and Wallendorf (1983).

The current theoretical perspectives on the involvement-commitment linkage vary. Some researchers view commitment as a component of a more encompassing involvement construct. For example, Lastovicka and Gardner (1978), studying a number of products, identified three orthogonal components of involvement: 1) familiarity, 2) commitment and 3) normative acceptance. Laurent and Kapferer (1985) also identified commitment as a component of involvement next to importance, knowledge and brand preference.

Traylor (1983) on the other hand, suggests that ego involvement and brand commitment are different but related constructs. Crosby and Taylor (1983) suggest that a person will most likely become "involved" in an issue without yet taking a stand. Involvement results when important values of the person’s self-image are engaged or made salient by a decision situation. Commitment results when these values, self-images, or important attitudes become cognitively linked to a particular stand or choice alternative. Thus, they suggest that involvement will most likely precede or lead to commitment. Beatty et al. (1988) also take the stand that involvement and commitment are different though related concepts. And, they also suggest that involvement leads to commitment (brand loyalty).

In our opinion involvement and commitment are indeed different but related concepts: involvement leads to commitment (see also Beatty and Smith 1987; Beatty et al. 1988;Goldsmith et al. 1991; Mittal and Lee, 1989 and Zaichowsky, 1985). The more involved a consumer is in a brand choice situation the more committed he or she will become to his/her brand choice.

MEASURING BRAND CHOICE INVOLVEMENT AND COMMITMENT

Although a number of scales are available in the literature to measure involvement and commitment we were confronted with two major problems. First, there were no Dutch scales available and second, the available English scales were not validated well.

We expected problems when simply translating an existing English (involvement or commitment) scale into Dutch. Some of the content and the meaning of an existing English scale might get lost during the translation procedure, while other content and meaning might be added; the so called pseudo-etic bias (Ricks et al. 1974). Not even back-translations (Brislin 1970; Werner and Campell 1970) or parallel translations (Frey 1970) are able to solve this problem completely. The only proper solution is re-validating the scale in the language in which is it translated (Douglas et al. 1983).

Beyond that, most (English) scales that are reported in the literature, are hardly validated. There are only a few exceptions in terms of scales that are validated in some aspects. The brand choice involvement scale of Mittal and Lee (1989) (comparable with Laurent and Kapferer (1985) and Mittal(1989b) is found to have internal consistency, discriminant validity and construct validity. Furthermore, Ratchford (1987) reports a Cronbach alpha of .77 for his scale. He also reports good results in terms of discriminant, criterion (comparison with the scale of Zaichowsky; correlation coefficient of .76) and predictive (correlation with perceptions of purchase decision of .63) validity. Cullen and Edget (1991) report a Cronbach alpha of .75 and .80 (a scale with a Cronbach alpha of .70 or above can be interpreted as a internally consistent and therefore reliable scale) for their scale. And Verplanken (1991) reports a Cronbach lpha of .86 and a discriminant validity against attitude in terms of a correlation of .06. The PII-scale of Zaichowsky on product involvement is extensively validated. It is found to be reliable as well as valid for product involvement but not for brand choice involvement.

As far as commitment is concerned only the commitment scale of Beatty et al. (1988) is found to have face validity.

Because of translation and validation problems, we decided to construct a Dutch involvement and a Dutch commitment scale and to validate these scales in the proper way (Douglas et al. 1983). (We are aware of the fact that since this article is in English we are faced with a double translation problem (from English to Dutch and from Dutch to English). To address this, we added the translations into Dutch in the Appendices.)

ITEM GENERATION AND CONTENT VALIDITY

All items of all suitable involvement and commitment Likert-scales available from the literature were collected to cover all the different aspects of both concepts. For the measurement of involvement we started with the scales of Cullen and Edget (1991), Laurent and Kapferer (1985), Mittal and Lee (1988;1989); Mittal (1989b); Ratchford (1987) and Verplanken (1991). For the measurement of commitment we started with the scales of Beatty et al. (1988), Lastovicka and Gardner (1977) en Mittal en Lee (1989).

All individual items of the different involvement scales and all items of the commitment scales were put together. First those items were excluded which were included twice (because they were included in different original scales). Second, two independent judges looked for different items with exactly the same meaning in Dutch. Only one of these items remained while the other(s) were excluded. Next, all items were #parallel’ translated.

Appendix 1 shows an overview of the 28 items included in our initial involvement scale. Appendix 2 provides an overview for the 7 items included in the initial commitment scale. The difference in initial length between both scales is striking, though totally attributable to the availability of different items in the literature. Although it is advisable to start with a set of about 30 items when constructing a new scale (Churchill 1979; Nunnally 1978; Peter 1979), the fact that we used items that were selected from a bigger set (resulting from a domain sampling process by those who constructed the original scales), makes that we are satisfied with these two sets of initial items.

Therefore, a 28-item brand choice involvement scale and a 7-item commitment scale emerged from the content validity phase that, trained and knowledgeable judges agreed on, measured brand choice involvement and commitment. However, further validation is needed.

INTERNAL SCALE RELIABILITY

The next task was to administer the scales over different product categories to measure the internal consistency orinter-item correlation. Three productsBblank audio cassettes, jeans and soft-drinksBwere selected because they were thought to be used by the subjects and expected to have different levels of brand choice involvement and commitment. Five hundred and eighteen undergraduate economics students completed the scales during class time. The items of the two scales were offered to them in random order.

In order to come up with reliable scales to measure brand choice involvement and commitment we set up a number of restrictions for including the initial items into the final scale.

1 More than 5 times a respondent with don’t know of no opinion on a specific item and/or;

2 Item-total correlation below .50 (Green et al. 1988) and/or;

3 No difference between the highest and the lowest quartiles of subjects in terms f the score on an item (Green 1988)

Finally, because of the expected high correlation between the brand choice involvement scale and the commitment scale we formulate the fourth restriction for inclusion.

4 Correlation between items from different scales (brand choice scale and involvement scale) above .70.

TABLE 1

CRONBACH-ALPHA OF THE BRAND CHOICE INVOLVEMENT SCALE AND THE COMMITMENT SCALE FOR THREE PRODUCTS

TABLE 2

ITEM-TOTAL CORRELATION OF THE BRAND CHOICE INVOLVEMENT AND THE COMMITMENT SCALE FOR THREE PRODUCTS

This last restriction means that the common variance between a item on the brand choice involvement scale and the commitment scale can never exceed 50%.

When a item met a restriction for all of the three products is was excluded from the initial scales. For the brand choice involvement scale 17 items met one of the restrictions and therefore had to be excluded. The 11 remaining items are marked in Appendix 1.

For the commitment scale only one item did met one of the restrictions and therefore had to be excluded. The 6 items left over are marked in Appendix 2. Table 1 provides an overview of the Cronbach-alpha, as a measure of internal consistency, of the brand choice involvement scale and the commitment scale for each of the three products. Table 2 provides an overview over the item-total correlations of the individual items of both scales.

Based on Cronbach alpha (higher than .70) and the item-total correlations (never for the three products below .50) we conclude that the 11-item brand choice involvement scale and the 6-item commitment scale are reliable measures (Tabachnik and Fidell 1989).

TABLE 3

THE BRAND CHOICE INVOLVEMENT SCALE FACTOR ANALYZED FOR THREE PRODUCTS

Next we conducted factor analysis, using varimax rotation, in order to confirm the uni-dimensionality of the brand choice involvement scale. We did this because in the literature some authors (Lastovicka and Gardner 1978; Laurent and Kapferer 1985) suggest that involvement is not necessary a uni-dimensional concept. The results of the analysis are presented in Table 3. Table 3 shows that for cassettes there are three, and for soft-drinks there are two factors with a eigenvalue of more than one. Nevertheless, there is only one important factor that explains most of the variance. Therefore we conclude that our brand choice involvement scale is uni-dimenional.

Based on the Cronbach-alpha, the item-total correlations and the factor analysis for the brand choice involvement scale and the Cronbach-alpha and the item-total correlations for the commitment scale we continue the scale development on the assumption of a simple linear combination of the individual items of each scale can be used to measure brand choice involvement and commitment (Comrey 1973). Moreover, no individual item is sufficient, only the scale taken as a whole that tends to measure either the brand choice involvement construct or the commitment construct properly (Nunnally 1978).

SECOND CONTENT VALIDITY

A second measure of content validity was obtained from a sample of 861 subjects. These subjects were a (representative) sample of the Dutch population in terms of their buying behavior of the products used in this study: blank audio cassettes and hair shampoo. These products were chosen because almost every one buys them once in a while and we expected them to vary in the degree of brand choice involvement and commitment. Both scales were administered (the items randomly ordered) and again checked for the restrictions mentioned in the paragraph on internal scale consistency. No item fails, so all 11 brand choice involvement items and all 6 commitment items were included in the next analyses.

First we computed Cronbach-alpha for each scale and the two products. The results of this analysis are presented in Table 4.

Based on the internal consistency, the fact that every item contains unique information and the absence of high correlations between items from different scales we conclude that a simple linear combination of the individual items is a reliable indicator of the brand choice involvement and the commitment of the subjects. Furthermore, we conclude that the developed scales have content validity.

CRITERION VALIDITY

Criterion validity is demonstrated by comparing the scores from the developed instrument with one or more external variables that provide a measure of a outside criterion. This outside criterion may be another scale (Green et al. 1988). Based on the literature (e.g. Kapferer and Laurent 1986; Mittal and Lee 1988; Zaichowsky, 1985) we expected a positive relation between brand choice involvement and commitment. We also expected a positive relation between brand choice involvement and commitment on the one hand and repeat purchasing behavior on the other hand (e.g. Engel et al. 1990). Table 5 provides an overview of the correlation coefficients between brand choice involvement, commitment and repeat purchasing behavior for the two products.

Table 5 shows a clear positive correlation between brand choice involvement and commitment and a positive correlation between brand choice involvement, commitment on the one hand and repeat purchasing behavior on the other hand. This indicates that our scales have criterion-related validity. Additional attentionto the relation between brand choice involvement, commitment and repeat purchasing behavior will be given in the section on construct validity, also including brand switching and elaboration.

TABLE 4

CRONBACH-ALPHA OF THE BRAND CHOICE INVOLVEMENT SCALE AND THE COMMITMENT SCALE FOR TWO PRODUCTS

TABLE 5

PEARSON CORRELATIONS BETWEEN BRAND CHOICE INVOLVEMENT, COMMITMENT AND REPEAT PURCHASING BEHAVIOR FOR TWO PRODUCTS

DISCRIMINANT VALIDITY

Discriminant validity can be demonstrated in different ways. One way to demonstrate discriminant validity is to show that concepts who are supposed be different do differ. Another way, and in this case a more appropriate way, is to show that brand choice involvement and commitment are indeed independent concepts. A way to demonstrate this is to conduct a factor analysis on all the individual items of the brand choice involvement ├čnd the commitment scale. If brand choice involvement and commitment are independent concepts each should be represented in a different factor. Table 6 shows the results of this analysis.

The results show that each factor represents a different concept. For cassettes the first factor should clearly be interpreted as commitment and the second factor as brand choice involvement. For hair shampoo we conclude that the first factor should be interpreted as brand choice involvement and the second factor as commitment.

To compare the results over the two different products it is necessary to invest whether the same number of factors were found, whether the same items have high factor scores on the same factors and whether the same interpretation can be given to the different factors (Tabachnick and Fidell 1989). Based on the fact that the results of the analysis are comparable in these aspects, we conclude that the factor solutions are the same for cassettes and hair shampoo.

In case of cassettes a number of items have a high loading on the commitment factor as well as on the brand choice involvement factor. Two brand choice involvement items even have a higher loading on the commitment factor than on the brand choice involvement factor. However, on theoretical groundsBthe items were derived from different, more or less validated scalesBwe decide to leave the items in the brand choice involvement scale. Moreover, in case of hair shampoo the problem does not exist. Therefore, we conclude that the brand choice involvement scale and the commitment scale have discriminant validity.

CONSTRUCT VALIDITY

Studies of construct validity check the theory underlying the test. There are different ways in which construct validity can be established. One way is to show that the construct is related to other constructs in the expected direction. For that reason we studied the relationship between brand choice involvement and commitment on the one hand and repeat purchasing behavior, brand switching and elaboration upon the brand choice on the other hand. It might be expected that brand choice involvement and commitment are positively related to repeat purchasing behavior and elaboration upon the brand choice. Furthermore, one might expect a negative relationship between brnd choice involvement and commitment on the one hand and brand switching on the other hand. Moreover, the relationship between brand choice involvement and elaboration upon the brand choice will be stronger than the relationship between commitment and elaboration about the brand whereas the relationship between commitment and repeat purchasing behavior and brand switching will be stronger than the relationship between brand choice involvement and repeat purchasing behavior and brand switching. A committed consumer, one who is bound to his or her brand, will more easily than a involved consumer buy the brand again, and finds it difficult to switch brands. Contrary, a involved consumer, one who is interested in the brand decision, will more extensively than a committed consumer elaborate upon the brand choice.

TABLE 6

FACTOR ANALYSIS WITH ALL THE ITEMS OF THE BRAND CHOICE INVOLVEMENT AND THE COMMITMENT SCALE FOR TWO PRODUCTS

We measured repeat purchasing behavior as the chance of buying the brand again. Brand switching as ease of changing brands. And elaboration about the brand choice is measured in terms of how much the consumer has thought about the brand choice and how many advertisements he or she has studied concerning the concerned product category after the purchase. The chance of buying the brand again is measured as a percentage ranging from zero to hundred. The other variables were measured each with a 7-point Likert scale. Table 7 shows the results of the correlation analyses. It also gives an overview of the Fisher-Z scores, which indicate whether the difference between the correlation-coefficient for brand choice involvement and the related variable and the correlations-coefficient for commitment and the related variable, is significant.

TABLE 7

PEARSON CORRELATIONS BETWEEN BRAND CHOICE INVOLVEMENT, COMMITMENT AND SOME RELATED VARIABLES FOR TWO PRODUCTS

Table 7 confirms our expectations with one exception. In case of cassettes the difference in the correlation between brand choice involvement and brand switching and commitment and brand switching is not statistically significant. Brand commitment is not stronger related to brand switching than brand choice involvement. However, both correlations are in the expected direction. Eventhough, for now, we conclude that our measures of brand choice involvement and commitment have construct validity. Since, indeed our expectations were confirmed in all other cases. Nevertheless, additional research is necessary here.

CONCLUSIONS

The purpose of the study reported was to show that brand choice involvement and commitment are conceptually and operationally different though related concepts. Brand choice involvement was defined as the interest in the brand decision and commitment was defined as the pledging or binding of an individual to his/her brand choice. The more involved a consumer is in a band choice situation, the more committed he or she will become to his/her brand choice. In order to develop two valid and reliable Dutch Likert-scales to measure brand choice involvement and commitment we decided not just to re-validate existing (English) scales but to develop a new Dutch scale out of a combination of English scales. Our scale should cover all the different aspects of both concepts. The scales were developed over two data-sets and it was demonstrated that they have content-, criterion-, discriminant- and construct validity. Furthermore, the scales were found to be reliable. Besides, both scales seemed to be a uni-dimensional measures.

Because there is a lot of overlap between brand choice involvement and purchase- and situational involvement we feel that our scales on brand choice involvement is also suitable for measuring purchasing and situational involvement as opposed to product (or endurng- or ego involvement).

Testing scales for their validity and reliability is very important. However, one should be convinced of the fact that once a scale is found to be valid and reliable in one language this does not necessarily mean that the same translated scale is automatically valid and reliable in another language; it needs re-validating over and over again. No matter whether techniques like back-translation or parallel translation are used as we did.

Missing from this scale development are tests of convergent validity. The tests of convergent validity with another measure of the constructs were not carried out because at the time of this scale development no other brand choice involvement or commitment measure reported in the literature had been extensively tested for reliability and validity.

Further research is needed in the field of translating and validating scales. What are the best ways to translate and to re-evaluate scales. Is it better to construct a new scale out of more than one existing scale or is it better to just translate a existing scale or to come up with a totally new scale?

In this specific case more research is needed in terms of the psychometric testing of the developed scales. Although our findings support the use of the scales, further research, preferable in a multi-trait-multi-method manner, should provide more inside in its exact characteristics. In addition to this study, which in fact is exploratory in nature, addtional samples need to be acquired in order to do a confirmatory analysis using structural modelling.

APPENDIX 1

INITIAL INVOLVEMENT SCALE

APPENDIX 2

INITIAL COMMITMENT SCALE

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Authors

Jose M.M. Bloemer, Limburg University Centre, Belgium



Volume

E - European Advances in Consumer Research Volume 3 | 1998



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