System 1 and 2 Thinking

Imagine this …

You’re on the way home from work when you remember that you’re out of shampoo.

You take a quick detour to the drugstore and head to the hair care aisle. When you arrive at the spot where your favorite shampoo brand is usually kept, you’re surprised to find the shelf empty.

You scan the other shelves looking for your brand. There are lots of similar-looking bottles, but your usual shampoo is nowhere in sight. After a few minutes of searching, you find a store employee and ask her to help you locate it.

“Oh that brand,” she says. “We stopped carrying that one. Actually, I think they stopped making it.”

Frustrated, you look back at the massive wall of shampoo. There must be over 100 options and you don’t know which one to choose.

Do you need more shine or dandruff protection? There’s one brand specifically for wavy hair, which could be good for you, but there’s another one that’s paraben-free, which you assume must be a good thing? 

You’ve narrowed it down to two options when a beautiful woman approaches. She has long, silky hair that shines even under the fluorescent lighting. 

She grabs a small grey bottle of shampoo and confidently drops it in her basket. 

What do you do? Do you buy the grey shampoo too or choose from the two bottles in your hand?

In today’s edition of Why We Buy we’ll explore System 1 and 2 Thinking – why we rely on intuition and instinct to make the vast majority of decisions. 

Let’s get into it.


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The Psychology of System 1 and 2 Thinking 🧠

Human brains are lazy. Well, it would be more accurate to say that they’re lazy by default.

Our brain has two different systems that work in tandem to process information and our experiences. In his bestselling book Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman refers to these two ways of thinking as System 1 and 2.

System 1 thinking is the fast, emotional, and automatic approach. System 1 is ‘always on’. It works unconsciously and with minimal effort. For example, our System 1 brain enables us to brush our teeth in the morning with little cognitive effort.

System 2 is the more analytical system, where logic and reason dominate. It consumes a significant amount of energy and is only used when System 1 is unable to process the requested information.

Embrace delegation

Activities like writing and analysis require System 2 thinking, which is why these activities can be so tiring.

Both System 1 and 2 can be biased and make mistakes.

Inside Your Buyer’S Mind🧐

Your customers may think that they’re rational decision-makers, but in reality, they don’t want to expend unnecessary brainpower evaluating your product or service.

When faced with a decision, buyers want it to be a “no-brainer.”

They’ll rely on intuition, instincts, and biases (aka the stuff we talk about weekly in this newsletter) whenever possible to limit the cognitive load of decision-making.

When it comes to marketing, if you can make it easier for buyers to choose your products without needing to think too hard, it can do wonders for your bottom line.

How To Apply This 🤑

Alright, so how can we apply this right now to sell more?

Reduce decision fatigue

If you sell a variety of products you can increase the chance of making a sale by reducing the number of choices prospects need to make. Asking buyers a few questions before recommending options can help reduce the paralysis of choice and make buyers feel better about the decision.

Use smart imagery

Studies show that the brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it processes text. Including aspirational images in your marketing helps tap into System 1 thinking.

For instance, on our Clarity Call Cheatsheets sales page we use an image of a woman with dollar signs, payment notifications, and growth arrows behind her. She’s also gazing at the words “Explosive Clarity.”

This imagery subtly speaks to the promise of customer interviews: more successful marketing which leads to making more money.

Embrace delegation

Be different, consistently

When buyers can’t differentiate between products they’re more likely to delay making a decision at all. The world’s top-selling brands work to differentiate themselves and then relay that message consistently so that it’s easier for buyers to understand the value. For instance, Volvo has consistently positioned itself as the “safer” vehicle, which makes it a good choice for families whereas Tesla is known as the “environmentally-friendly” and “hip” choice.

The Short of It 💥

It’s far easier to use emotion and intuition to make decisions than to apply logic. The world’s top brands work hard to make their product a “no-brainer” and think carefully about how they can appeal to System 1 and System 2.

Until next time, happy selling!




Wanna really get inside your buyer’s head?

There are a few ways I can help:

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Written By Katelyn

Katelyn Bourgoin is the CEO of Customer Camp, a 4X founder, and a cheese lover. She lives by a simple mantra: whoever gets closer to the customer wins.

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