Zombie Consumers! Place Your Products Accordingly!

It´s finals week; I was up last night,until 3 and up until 2 the night before.Now I have T-20 hours until the next exam, during which time I need to review an entire 20 sessions worth of information. With little time to do anything but study, the school vending machines have become my breakfast, lunch, and dinner.All the while that I am inserting my coinage, I am telling myself I will get the fruit beverage and the whole-wheat apple biscuits s and yet I find myself punching in the codes to the colas and Twinkies 90% of the time. Fatigue and subsequent sugar cravings aside, this curious effect got me thinking about how my lack of sleep could so drastically kill my usually iron resolve to eat healthy.

 There are two types of thinking systems according to psychologists; System 1 which comes from our more primal, emotional, intuitive selves (think gut feelings) and System 2, which is based entirely in rational dissection of situations. Normally, our rational self makes decisions based on present information, past experience, and subtle hints from our System 1 instinctual reaction. But using System 2 is laborious for our brains, and we are creatures of survival, looking to minimize the use of energy wherever possible. When a decision is simple, or one we have come across in the past, we usually defer to our  System 1 process to choose. We also defer to our  System 1 process when we are exhausted, or have used  System 2 to overrule something  System 1 wants. Imagine yourself in the grocery store saying no to cookies, potato chips and ice-cream only to arrive at the checkout stand and give in to a candy bar.

In that moment, me at the vending machine, the person at the checkout stand guiltily grabbing the candy bar – we´ve both succumbed to our  System 1 emotional reactions; we have essentially lost our ability to think rationally in that moment and have become, what I like to call, zombie consumers. This is when we revert back to our basic decision making matrix that we have set up over the course of our lifetime. A smart marketer knowing this could exploit our biology to push those added sales through strategic product placement or perhaps requiring their customers to run on a treadmill for 20 minutes before shopping. Since we know the latter won´t be happening (or at least I hope not; maybe for a sporting goods store? Know your market I guess) a marketing campaign that appeals to  System 1 after  System 2 has been worn down could be very effective indeed.  After all, you can only say no to something you instinctively want for so long.

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