Thinking Fast & Slow...and Marketing!
Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 9:39AM
Jean Marc Rejaud

Front Cover

I am reading right now the book Thinking Fast & Slow by Daniel Kahneman and this makes me wonder the implications of his findings and conclusions for marketing.

Basically, his baseline approach is to state that our thinking process is in fact composed of 2 systems which he calls System 1 & System 2.

System 1 is "fact, intuitive & emotional". System 2 is "slower, more deliberative and more logical".

Both systems have extraordinary capabilities and as extraordinarily, some important limitations.

For example, system 1 will be the one linked to intuitive persuasion..which sometimes leads us to the right conclusions...and sometimes not. The core idea is to detect those limitations and use (trust) system 2 to correct those "wrong" impressions.

Now system 2 is incapable of quick reactions, while sometimes they are needed or it can lead to "wrong" conclusions if no use "properly".

To help the reader understand the difference between the 2 systems, the author uses several examples...One of them is the Muller Lyer example.

Look at the image below!

What do you see?

The upper horizontal line is shorter than the lower horizontal line? Right?...This is what your system 1 tells you.

Now you know maybe that in fact they have the same length or your "deliberate-slower" observation will bring you to that conclusion...That is your system 2 speaking here.

So easy!...we just need to follow system 2 constantly but this is not that easy as sometimes, we just can not control system 1 or in other times, system 2 is so "demotivated" that it is bringing you to the wrong conclusions.

The key is to know which system to rely on...when and to recognize when the limits of each system are reached.

This is a very interesting book that I recommend to all marketers as in fact, what we do (or are trying to do) as marketers, is to influence the decisions-making process of our targets...Therefore, to understand how decisions are made within the context of the 2 systems and how those 2 systems shape our judgments and decisions are critical.

When to solicit system 1?

When to solicit system 2?

When to combine the 2?

Once we know which system we have to solicit, to obtain the expected reaction from our target , how to build the marketing communication in such a way that this is the system that our communication will aim at and as it does that, it does it effectively?

In advertising creative tactics, we are talking about emotional and rational appeals which more often than not are combined in marketing communications but they remain 2 separated dimensions...What about is we were to use system 1 & system 2 where of course the 2 systems could be combined if need but furthermore, one will influence the other like the Yin and the Yang of a message...Pretty powerful!

Oh well...just some food for thoughts.

Article originally appeared on Digital Marketing, Analytics & Database Marketing (
See website for complete article licensing information.