In the book “Decoded. The Science Behind Why We Buy” by Phil Barden the author analyzes models of consumer behavior from a scientific point of view. The author talks about how people make decisions and what is behind their choice of a brand and also shows how you can use this scientific knowledge in your marketing activities.

Phil Barden’s book is based on the work of Daniel Kahneman, according to which there are two different systems of thinking and decision-making. Kahneman calls them system 1 and system 2.

System 1 (implicit system) playing the role of the autopilot, integrates perception and intuition and is designed for quick, intuitive decisions.

System 2 (explicit system), playing the role of the pilot, is slow and designed for reflection. The goal of good branding is to activate system 1 and lull the vigilance of system 2.

The implicit system affects our decisions through various elusive “effects”, such as:

The effect of the most beloved brand is based on the fact that people choose basically only the brand that they consider the number one for themselves.

Therefore, it would be more correct for marketers to strive for the maximum increase in the number of buyers for whom their brand is the first number in the list, and not just to get into the list of “suitable” brands

The framing effect is that a person draws different conclusions from the same information, depending on how the information is presented. The impact of the background is not recognized, although it indirectly affects the perception and thereby affects the decisions. A brand is a product frame.

Phil Barden gives an equation that describes the neurology of a purchase decision:

Pure value = pleasure – suffering

The higher the net value, the more likely the purchase. Because value and cost are relative, they can be influenced by the situational context.

Sales Motivation
Almost everyone gets in this trap

There are different ways to increase the value:

  • Price can increase subjective value. There is an unspoken rule: the higher the quality, the higher the price.
  • The use of verbal techniques. It is important to make a distinction when describing the benefits of purchasing a product or avoiding losses.
  • Reducing the perceived price. Studies show that if you use promo signals on the price tag, even the increased price will be perceived by buyers as reduced. “Anchoring” – the price of the product is compared with other prices. The first price was an anchor, and the second was estimated in comparison with it.

For the brain, any object is a set of lines, faces, angles. Since the brain does not see complete pictures, it does not save them. A person’s ability to recognize familiar objects is based on signals carrying important diagnostic information.

Understanding what features of the brand help customers instantly recognize it, marketers can reasonably decide whether to change the background color and packaging or better to leave it unchanged. The main thing is to keep the key signals for diagnosis. Since people see products and brands primarily with blurred peripheral vision, signals that are effectively perceived even in blurred form should be used.

The perception of the product and the decision to purchase it depend not only on the offer itself but also on the way it is made. The interface influences the behavior of customers without having to change their beliefs in advance. This provides additional opportunities for marketers to influence customers outside the framework of the model in which they first have to change their attitude to the product or brand.

3 principles of creating convincing interfaces for decision making:

  • Tangibility: no signal no action. According to the research results, the more often a person touches the product, the higher the probability of buying.
  • Immediacy: I want it right now. The shorter the distance to the object, the higher the subjective value and fewer apparent barriers to possession.
  • Confidence is the ratio of the expected probability of success to the possible risk. In other words, it is a probability to get what you want and/or avoid costs.

To fully understand buying behavior, you need to figure out what motivates people to make decisions from the beginning.

Products and brands are the tools with which customers achieve their goals. Marketers should create a sense of their product performing the tasks that the buyer faces. To determine the market, create new products and develop marketing strategies, you need to start from the goals of buyers, not their qualities and categories. The instrumental value of the product is higher if in a particular situation it is better than other products to cope with the task corresponding to the goals of customers.

Goals and their value are determined by two attitudes: explicit (common to the whole category) and implicit (common psychological goals). In marketing a lot of attention is paid to explicit goals, they allow you to create categories of products, so all companies in the market must meet them.

People see only bran
People see only brand

Implicit goals are hidden from consciousness and people simply cannot formulate them, so when customers are interviewed about products and brands, they begin to talk about explicit goals: quality, materials, price.

The tasks of products and brands are explicit, that is common to the whole category, and implicit – contributing to the achievement of specific psychological goals. Trade offers to create the greatest value for the client when explicit goals are associated with implicit ones.

There are two obstacles on the way to successful marketing activities: a strategy based not on the goals of customers, and signals that are used to convey a value proposition but do not activate the right ideas in the mind of the customer.

Positioning products and brands with a goal, we get clear instructions for action, because the associative memory of people contains signals related to the goals of the brand. The strategy based on the objectives not only provide the significance of the product but also, thanks to the associations between signals and goals learned by the brain, give instructions on how to submit the necessary signals.

If a brand is associated with multiple goals, the power of associative links to each of them weakens. It is desirable for marketers to focus on one goal and present everything as if their brand is the best in this respect.

Phil Barden’s book explains why people buy a particular product, why some brands are successful and some are not. After reading it, you can discover something new not only about marketing but also about the work of our brain, our perception.

This book is full of examples, illustrations, explanations of complex things in simple language. After reading you begin to look closely at the surrounding goods, you notice how these or other products are trying to get into your brain and they do it.

The book will be interesting for the average person, it will help to understand what processes occur in our brain when deciding on the purchase of goods, what means can affect our choice. And for the marketer it is a kind of encyclopedia with examples of how to and can be done, and how not to do.

PS: here is another great book you might like – Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy