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Reviewed by Sarah Ell

As human beings, we like to think we’re pretty smart. After all, we’ve got these big, sophisticated brains that we use to make complex, rational decisions, right? Wrong.

In fact, research into evolutionary psychology is now showing us that we actually think a lot less than we believe we do.

This e-book, downloadable for free, is partly a marketing exercise in itself, as it promotes the philosophies and practices of London-based behavioural marketing and research group System 1. However, it contains many fascinating insights into how we think – and how companies can better market their products or services to their customers.

‘System 1’ is a term coined by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman. It refers to the brain’s primary form of decision-making: fast, instinctive, and emotional. System 2 is slower, more deliberate and calculating. Yet our default approach is to use System 1 for most decisions.

The authors say marketers should forget about trying to appeal to customers’ rational, sensible selves. Instead they should tap into ‘fame, feeling, and fluency’ factors, which make up a big part of brand identity and hence influence purchase decisions.

They explain: “Even though every brand owner has read the studies showing how quickly decisions are made in a store, and even though most of their own lives as consumers are governed by habit, there’s still a temptation for marketers to create complex constructs of brand image, personality, and points of differentiation, and to believe that consumers crave meaning, interaction, and relationships with their brand... In fact, our System 1 brain is drawn to simplicity, and the most successful brands play to that.”

This book is not just for those involved in marketing and brand-building; it’s a useful read for all businesses wanting to engage with customers. And for consumers, it offers insight into how companies are trying to interact with us.

It’s full of useful and entertaining examples, easy to read, and might just give you that flash of System 1 insight you’re looking for.