Moving consumers from System 2 to System 1 mindsets | KHWS

Moving consumers from System 2 to System 1 mindsets

Behavioural Insight

With our team fresh from hosting ‘Proceed to Checkout’, the first of our many breakfast events focusing on how behavioural science can help drive sales and remove barriers facing online shoppers today, our latest blog post takes a look into some of the thinking presented by keynote speaker, Professor Mike Nicholson, from Durham University. A topic made popular by Daniel Kahneman’s book, ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’, Professor Nicholson’s presentation went through examples of how System 1 and System 2 decision making directly affect us as consumers on a daily basis.

System 1 being the fast, impulsive, automatic and occasional error-prone method of making everyday decisions, and System 2 the slow, effortful and vastly more reliable method used when making complex decisions. From research presented during our event, it would seem that when we are in a shopping situation such as a supermarket, we tend to enter with a critical System 2 mindset. However, after some acclimatisation, System 1 gradually starts taking over and we do our shopping more or less on autopilot. With System 1 now in charge, we suddenly allow ourselves more impulsive shopping decisions the deeper inside the store we venture. This is a phenomenon frequently used by grocery retailers when placing snacks close to the cash registers.

When shopping online however, our thinking more often than not starts with System 1 but when it comes to the checkout, the more considered System 2 thinking takes over leading to a huge amount of abandoned or reduced carts. This is because unlike a store where it can be embarrassing to change your mind at the checkout, it’s very easy to cancel your online cart. As detailed by Professor Nicholson, there are some tactics used across the industry to placate System 2, such as social proof and providing call-to-actions that speak to our loss aversion. As an example, Amazon uses both by featuring product reviews and countdown timers, showing how long you have to order should you want next-day delivery.

With KHWS now starting a two-year research project together with Durham University, it will be interesting to see the best way of recreating the process of driving System 1 thinking and allowing System 2 to switch off. Would featuring a certain type of content or a finding a way of bringing in the emotional aspect of brand marketing into E-commerce allow us to disarm the critically minded System 2 long enough for System 1 to take over? We have exciting times ahead of ourselves as we continue to verify and develop our Brand Commerce planning model.

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