Why You Need to Know Dual Processing Theory for Brand Management
Updated: Jul 5
Thinking, Fast and Slow As marketers, we need to look at marketing from an interdisciplinary perspective. Gone are the days of simply relying on direct marketing and traditional newsletters. One could argue that those tactics aren't enough anymore. Marketing in the postmodern world means tackling marketing issues from a wide range of perspectives, through the lens of automation, digitalisation, integrated communications, psychology, sociology, anthropology and behavioural economics. One very salient topic for marketers is exploring consumer behaviour and consumer psychology. It is important to understand how people operate in order to appeal to them. Today, we explore Daniel Kahneman's Dual Processing Theory to understand its relevance to postmodern marketing. Kahneman is a psychologist that proposed a theory that suggests that humans have two primary modes of decision-making. The first mode is called System 1. This is an automatic, fast and unconscious way of processing information. When applied to marketing, this explains impulse buys and habitual behaviours. The second mode is called System 2. This is a more conscious way of processing information. It's slower, more deliberate and explains complex decisions. In Kahneman's book, "Thinking, Fast and Slow", he writes that System 1 is always switched on, an instinctive safeguard that human beings have as a protective mechanism. On the other hand, System 2 only switches on when information processing requires more deliberation. These systems help us to understand many aspects of postmodern marketing, specifically consumer behaviour, advertising, and brand management. For this blog post, I wanted to focus on brand management as one crucial aspect of marketing management. System 1 and 2 in Brand Management A lot of brands these days fight for "top of mind" awareness which is when consumers remember a brand first and foremost when thinking about a specific product category. For example, Nike has great "top of mind" effects when people are prompted to think about trainers. This is much of System 1 processing in the works, when brands can slip into a consumer's unconscious processing with a lot of cognitive fluency. Brands that are new market entrants are less likely to be processed using System 1 as there are less cognitive schemas for their brand identity. This is why new entrant brands have to heavily invest in advertising - and not just any type of advertising - but advertising that awakens System 2 processing in consumers. Why even consider investing in advertising? As a new brand, you have to break into a market that already exists. You don't want to slip into the background of consumer's minds. This can explain the use of emotional appeal campaigns or unconventional tone of voice in branded content. Many brands also awaken System 2 processing through the use of storytelling by creating sincere and authentic brand personalities through stories. Some brands use comparison marketing to distinguish themselves from competitor brands. Some companies, like Monzo, awaken System 2 processing by going against people's cognitive schema about what a debit card should look like by creating its own identity as a coral pink debit card that has a user-friendly app to go with it, appealing to young professionals and millenials. Nike and Monzo are just some examples of brands that are cognisant of consumer decision-making processes and are managing their brand identities accordingly. Brands should base their brand management decisions on the foundations of consumer psychology so they can reap the positive effects of good brand equity.