The principle of decision-value relevance

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The principle of decision-value relevance is that the more important a purchase decision, the more time a consumer will spend doing research. This is especially important for retirement communities. For prospects considering a move-in, they’ll need to do plenty of research. This will normally involve several touchpoints, including a retirement community’s website, third-party platforms, and friends and family. This is something you’ll need to keep in mind as you craft your marketing strategy.

Purchases and decision values

Before consumers make a purchase, they usually do at least some research. This varies significantly between products and services. The more important the purchase, or the higher its “decision value,” the more time and effort consumers will put into researching it.

Below are some examples of purchases with varying decision values (though the decision value can also partly be a function of the buyer).

Low decision-value purchases:

  • Buying gum
  • Getting take-out for dinner
  • Going to the movies
  • Going to the zoo
  • Buying new socks

Moderate decision-value purchases:

  • Getting a new smartphone
  • Buying a computer
  • Contracting a minor home renovation
  • Going on a weekend trip

High decision-value purchases:

  • Buying a house
  • Going on two-month+ trip
  • Completely renovating your house
  • Moving into a retirement community

Keep in mind, the differences in decision values among products and services depends on more than cost. In fact, it’s most directly related to how important something is—or how much value it has—to a consumer.

Decision value also includes how something will affect one emotionally and in other ways (now and in the future). And, it includes the opportunity cost of a purchase: e.g., if I go on a two-week tropical vacation, a major home renovation may not be affordable.

Most importantly, the higher the decision value of a purchase, the more time and effort a consumer is likely to put into researching it.

When buying a pack of gum, the importance of making the right decision is minimal. Most people won’t give it a second thought.

On the other hand, for decisions that seriously involve a senior’s welfare, like moving into a retirement community, making the right decision is paramount. Thus, many prospects will invest plenty of time, sometimes months, researching this decision.

Implications for retirement communities

You may be using a strategy suitable for marketing a low-involvement product (which includes most products) instead of a high-involvement one.

For someone to seriously consider moving into a retirement community, it’s not nearly enough for them to have heard of you (unlike, say, a pair of jeans). Given how valuable an investment this is, mere awareness is just a small part of the decision process.

What’s far more important is a prospect’s perception of what your retirement community is like and whether it’s a good fit for the senior considering moving. And, this involves extensive research.

Second, a prospect’s decision to choose a retirement community will involve multiple touchpoints of information and influence. They’ll want to understand your community from multiple perspectives. These may include your community website, and objective sources like third-party platforms or even friends and family.

Why is this multi-leveled, thorough approach to retirement living research so important?

In short, it will give prospects a rich understanding of your retirement community and what it has to offer. It will also enable them to see how it fits into the retirement living landscape.

The moral: You should invest far more of your marketing dollars helping prospects learn about your retirement community rather than just becoming aware of it. You’ll need to find ways to help them research your community so they have the multi-layered perspective from which to make a highly informed decision.

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