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The rise of system 2 thinking

Scott Monaghan-Gibson Director 09/05/2023
In a world where financial uncertainty and spending difficulty are increasing, System 2 thinking becomes more prominent.

A hugely popular and influential theory in behavioural economics, System 1 and System 2 describe the opposing ways we think:

  • System 1 – subconscious, instant, intuitive and emotional.
  • System 2 – slower, rational, logical and evaluative.

System 1 thinking: how advertisers connect to us

We rely far more on System 1 thinking than we may realise, enabling us to cope with the many thousands of micro-decisions we need to make in our daily lives.

Marketers have long taken advantage of this; often the most impactful and successful campaigns are those that use emotion to tap into our intuitive thought processes via implicit associations.

System 1 processes are often maintained for a long time and can even become distinctive assets for a brand or product (John Lewis does this well every Christmas; leveraging sentimentality and Christmas spirit so their festive advertising has become a staple of the season).

System 2 thinking: the dark horse of brand communications?

Recent insights from Savanta’s Consumer Compass and Omnibus surveys suggest that System 2 thinking should be increasingly considered in marketing campaigns.

Our Consumer Confidence Index has seen its lowest-ever scores in the past 12 months, and Q1 2023 sees a record high for people claiming they are feeling financially ‘squeezed’. Moreover, our Omnibus shows that 73% of UK consumers are ‘becoming more considered, and thinking more about how they spend their money’.

In a world where financial uncertainty and spending difficulty are increasing, System 2 thinking becomes more prominent.

A balancing act for effective communication

There will always be a (significant) need to attend to System 1 thinking; it’s the dominant way we make decisions and is where vital subconscious emotional connections are made.

But it may now be the case that System 1 alone, and its subtle nudges to influence consumers, may not be enough.

Supplementing a System 1 approach with System 2 content (details, facts and an overt call to action) will enable consumers to confidently make informed and rational decisions.

This combination will future-proof your campaigns against increasingly challenging market conditions.

What approach should your brand apply? To learn more about how research can future-proof your campaigns, get in touch with us by emailing: [email protected]

Savanta’s Omnibus and Tracker surveys

Our Omnibus and Tracker surveys are the ideal tool for businesses who need to benchmark and track awareness, perceptions and behaviours of their audiences. Empowering you to make better decisions.

Whether you need to ask a few quick questions or want an ongoing picture of the market and your consumers – we have you covered. Find out more here.

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