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Quick Decisions in Retail

By Werner van Zyl

A lot is known about two types of mental processes in the brain: System 1 and System 2. The former is concerned with subconscious, automatic reasoning, whereas the latter is concerned with conscious, intentional more deliberate type of reasoning.

Just as these two systems can be regarded as ‘complementary opposites’ to each other, they can have very distinct applications in marketing. Because system 1 specializes in making fast (subconscious) judgments, the retail environment with its hundreds of same-category products requires that the emphasis should be on utilizing the skills of System 1. When a customer enters a retail store, the abundance of lights, colors, signage and sounds can distract the customer insofar as there are no unique stimuli that can draw the customer’s full, undivided attention that ultimately results in a purchase.

A company’s products, therefore, needs to be sufficiently unique in terms of design, contrast (with competitive brands), readability etc. so that the impatient customer is ‘allowed’ to use the fast-thinking System 1 when crawling the isles in search of the right product and thereby making a quick decision.

Werner van Zyl is the founder of Neuromind Marketing in South Africa.