Tapping into Both System 1 & 2 Thinking: Shopper Insights

May 24, 2016

Thanks to Nobel Prize Winner Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, we know System 1 and System 2 Thinking run concurrently and work together to make consumer decisions. (And if you didn’t know that, now you do!) Basically, these systems describe two ways of thinking:

  • System 1 is fast, reactive, emotional, and instinctive
  • System 2 is slower, deliberate, logical, and reflective

How the Systems Affect & Relate to Market Research

It’s important to understand both of these cognitive processes in order to better understand how people behave and make their purchase decisions. Having a strong grasp on the two ways of thinking, or at least being aware of them, is especially helpful when it comes to conducting research and analyzing results, which begs the question: Is it possible to tap into both systems of thinking within the same consumer research study?

Around here, we say yes. It’s also possible to do so within parameters of quality, speed, and affordability. For example, many of our shopper studies are designed to uncover both patterns of thinking. Let’s take a look at how you can incorporate both when executing a shopper insights study.

A Quick Shopper Insights Study Example

After identifying and selecting your targeted audience, we design the discussion to understand the following about the group of respondents:

  • Their key drivers for purchase
  • Their motivations and triggers to purchase
  • Their plans and preparation
  • Their primary influencers

The approach and attention we take in writing the questions invokes System 2 Thinking, which can be shared from the comforts of the respondent’s home environment. The online group discussion encourages engagement and conversation with other like-minded people to share and build upon each person’s thoughts and opinions.

Then we ask the consumers to complete the next set of activities in-store to capture that System 1 Thinking in the store category aisle. These activities, which could include image uploads and video for example, help shed light on what actually happens in-the-moment in order to ensure we

  • Capture a glimpse of their contextual environment
  • See what breaks through the clutter
  • Recognize their emotional facial reactions
  • Hear the voice and tone of the consumer

We have successfully asked consumers to upload videos, take photos, and use voice-to-text, so we can get closer to understanding exactly how they’re making their decisions. Videos are a powerful mechanism to capture that raw reaction and share that consumer feedback in a meaningful and compelling way.

Applying Your Research Expertise

Embrace both System 1 and 2 Thinking to create a more complete understanding of the consumer’s decision-making process. The main implication for market researchers is to design the study to optimize the consumer’s context and interpret the results given the subtle mindset of System 1 and System 2 Thinking. If you are unfamiliar with how to do so, or simply don’t have the extra time, you can work with a team of researchers who can help you and your team craft the right questions to elicit the proper responses to draw from System 1 and System 2 Thinking for analysis, which will give you a deeper understanding of the consumer mind and how it works.

To see these practices and activities in action, take a look at our case study highlighting the actionable results a team at Logitech received from a shopper insights study that included pre-shopping and in-store exercises.

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