System 2: Make Sure Thinking is Hard

In the previous post, I wrote about System 1 thinking and, when it is engaged (for example, because of repeated exposure, being in a good mood, etc.) marketing messages are more likely to feel true!

System 2, on the other hand is the opposite.  Whenever we deliberately think of something (such as calculating 18 x 124), we engage system 2.  It takes a lot of effort on the part of the brain to pay attention and do the necessary mental calculations.

Reducing customer effort for better customer service is a great idea. When customers know exactly where they can get the right application form, how to fill it out, where to send it when they have finished and who is taking ownership of the claim or query on the other line ensures that customers think about the whole process as little as possible.

But …

System 2 (i.e. mental effort) is also a great idea in the correct environment.

Many years ago researchers recruited students and asked them to solve puzzles that have been written in clear font, and those in a greyed-out font. Those that saw the puzzle clearly made more mistakes than those who saw the puzzles in the greyed-out condition.

System 2 is a tool to use because it required more effort. If you want consumers to pay attention to what you are saying, you should make it difficult for them. Some companies install their billboards upside or reverse the text. Not only is it a novel idea that engages potential customers (until everybody starts doing it), but it creates a memorable experience that cuts through the mass of advertising clutter.

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