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Think in system 2, communicate in system 1

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According to psychologists, there are two different types of thinking – system 1 and system 2. System 1 is fast-paced thinking we seem to do almost automatically while system 2 is more thoughtful and only activated when needed. We have two systems because a lot of our day is taken up by routine.


To cope with the repetitive actions that don’t require much thought, we’ve developed an “automatic” thinking process in system 1. It requires less energy than system 2, so we use it throughout the entire day. System 1 is prone to errors and bias, making us think more emotionally and impulsively. On the other hand, system 2 is only engaged when it is needed. When we want to make an educated, rational decision, or when system 1 encounters something out of the routine, the part of our minds that do the “heavy lifting” comes into play.

Brands and companies can utilize these thinking systems when building their marketing strategy. Businesses need to think in system 2 but communicate in system 1. This helps engage customers’ system 1 thinking and persuade them to purchase a product or service. System 2 thinking is important when it comes to marketing strategy and “behind the scenes” details that lead to success. You communicate with clients using system 1 thinking and swiftness, in other words, but build that conversation upon the foundation that you lay with system 2.

Because buying decisions are often more impulsive, potential customers are likely to buy using their system 1 thinking. They might engage system 2 at some point throughout the customer journey – a cognitive walk through of the buying process – of course, but it is system 1 that ultimately leads to the sale.

Here’s how you can tap into system 1 and better communicate with your customers.

Create a Positive Brand Experience

This takes place before a purchase is ever made. A positive brand experience is key to communicating with your customers in system 1. Your customers are more likely to make a purchase based on their emotions if they have a pleasant brand experience. If you’re an e-commerce business, a positive digital experience is key. User experience should be fast, smooth, consistent, and cohesive throughout the different areas of your online store. 

Quality Customer Experience

Are you offering the best you can to your existing customers? You want your customer to return and purchase again because they’ve had a positive experience with your product or service. That’s where customer service comes in.

Throughout the buyer’s journey, customer service is vital. Customers will contact you with questions before making a purchase, during the purchasing process, and may even contact you about problems or questions after they have received your product. It’s important to always provide a customer service experience that benefits your customer over yourself. Even if they’re unhappy with your product, you can still make them feel good about your brand so that they may buy again at a later date.


Storytelling has the opportunity to evoke a direct emotional response from your customer, making them relate to the brand, feel good about the company, or create an urgent need for the customer to buy a product. Your storytelling takes place both on and off your website, from the “About Us” section, to the copy on your packaging. Even the press you receive from the media becomes part of your tale. Your story has to be compelling and make people feel something.

Positive public relations (PR) is a great way to spread your story so that the public can associate your brand with a positive emotion. You can achieve continuous positive PR by consistently finding new ways to promote your brand in the news, from working with charities to just being the best at what you do and receiving praise and awards.

About the Author : Thomas George is the Director ofDoWell Research GmbH, an innovation and User experience research company. Drop him a line at

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