"I need a car" or "I JUST need a car"? A consumer's response to a marketing message is determined by their motivation, opportunity and ability to engage with the message.

The Elaboration Likelihood Model

Written by:

You may also like:

The Importance of Price

“I need a car” or “I JUST need a car”? The consumer who needs a car will think logically about it, while the consumer who JUST needs a car will look for visual cues and an element of desire. So how do we persuade both to buy our vehicle? 

The Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) presents two routes to persuasion; the central route and the peripheral route. Elaboration involves the mental activity surrounding the response to a marketing message, and is determined by MOA; motivation, opportunity and ability. 

When elaboration is high, consumers will focus on the arguments contained within the message and seek to acquire more information. This is known as the central route. Consumers are actively engaging in the process of persuasion, possessing the motivation and ability to think about the message. 

Our “I need a car” consumers will take the central route, considering the price, performance and reliability. 

When elaboration is low, consumers require peripheral cues outside of the selling points to remain engaged in the persuasion process. Consumers on the peripheral route often don’t care about the topic, lacking the motivation to centrally process. If the consumer does not understand the message, they will lack the ability to do central processing. 

Our “I JUST need a car” consumers will take the peripheral route, looking for a sleek design, cool colour and big rims. 

The problem we face as a result is that one message is not enough to persuade the market. How do we persuade informed consumers, while keeping those who need our solution, but lack interest in the topic, engaged? 

We analyse our audience’s motivation and ability to process the persuasive message we are looking to present. We can tailor the design of the project to reflect their way of thinking. For example, when writing content for a website, structuring the information to accommodate both types of consumers and writing it in a way that allows them to convince themselves that they need a product or service. 

Ask yourself the following; is your message clear? Are you communicating the relevancy of your product or service in an understandable way? Does the design of your content guide consumers to complete the action you want them to take? 

At KEO, we conduct workshops with our clients where, together, we explore the various buyer personas and craft effective messaging that is engaging and resonates with the audience. Be sure to get in touch for assistance with your paths to persuasion!


KEO acknowledges the Kamilaroi/ Gamilaroi/ Gomeroi people as the traditional custodians of the land we work on.

We recognise the strength, resilience and capacity of the Aboriginal community and have the utmost respect for Elders past, present and emerging.

We collaborate with ambitious brands and people. If your next project, venture or market transition
could use someone like Keo, let's build it together.