What Consumers Should Be Thinking About

If you think a  household geyser consumes a lot of power as part of a household electricity bill, try your brain. Many studies have confirmed that the brain consumes roughly 20% of all your daily energy consumption! That is one out of every five calories – definitively something to think about….

Or not.

You see, Barbie didn’t quite get it right when she said “Math is hard”*. Because thinking is even harder. Believe it or not, the most “expensive” mental resource is thinking, followed by visual and then motor (movement).

civilisations advance by increasing the number of operations they can do without thinking about them
Alfred North Whitehead in the early 1900s made an interesting observation. He said that “civilisations advance by increasing the number of operations they can do without thinking about them”. It summarises what I think should be the goal of every marketer, web designer, product designer etc.: get people to nothave to think about what they are doing. Steven Krug even wrote a web design book titled appropriately Don’t’ make me think.

We often try to find new ways to get consumers to think about something differently by looking at things from a new perspective. But how do you get people to think less (or not at all?) The answer? Habits.  Creating a routine that customer (in a retail context, say) feel is easy to maintain, already goes a long way to get people committed to buy at least some products.  Habits work because they are processed by the basal ganglia, an evolutionary ‘old’, structure in the brain that process automatic, intuitive and subconscious behaviour. Charles Duhigg wrote an exemplary book about habits that provides a framework for creating habits in marketing and life in general. Habits are triggered by cues (time of day, the coke machine in the cafeteria etc.), followed by a certain routine (drinking a Coke) and finally some sort of reward (e.g. satisfaction experienced after drinking a Coke).

The power of habits cannot be overemphasised, as they allow consumers a tool of buying one product over and over and over again. So what should consumers be thinking about? As little as possible.

*The full quote is “Math is hard. Let’s go shopping.”

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