Three types of decisions your customer can make

“You need to know your customer.”

This is true for so many different reasons. You need to know the ins and outs of your customer. Part of what you need to know is the way they make decisions. According to Gerhard Roth, there are three distinguishable types of decisions each influenced by the environment the individual finds himself in. When we know the different types of decisions we could make, we can strategies the customer’s journey towards a purchase even better. Taking this into account, helps us to optimise the marketing strategy.

Spontaneous affectivity

Spontaneous affectivity describes decision-making in extreme situations, where „fight, flight or freeze“ reactions are required. In such situations, we have little time to make a decision. Therefore, we rely on familiar behavioral patterns spontaneously, without rational thinking.

The decision has to be made so quickly that all rational thinking processes are blocked by hormonal secretion. This is supposed to prevent us from thinking about the situation in any way and wasting valuable time.

However, decisions based on spontaneous affectivity are often not helpful in the daily life of our time and should therefore be avoided. The result, as helpful as it would be in the wilderness, can lead to wrong decisions in our daily lives as well as to right ones.

It clearly has the advantage of time, but it clearly has the disadvantage that decisions in everyday life are 50 percent of the time useless or have limited or negative benefits.


Intuition runs like decision-making through spontaneous affectivity in the subconscious mind. The preconscious, a part of the subconscious mind, stores consciously learned knowledge that has sunk into our subconscious mind. In the preconscious, it is stored as patterns that are ready to be activated and provide us with intuition or a gut feeling regarding a decision or situation.

Since our intuition is based on learned and experienced patterns, there must be patterns that help us and are goal-oriented as well as factually correct. If this is the case, we can make a quick, intuitive decision within a very short time. Factually incorrect or harmful patterns can not only lead to wrong decisions, but also to diseases. The disadvantage here is that the situation, the problem or other circumstances must fit the known pattern so that the corresponding program can be played.

In addition, the decision made is often the same. Due to the existing pattern, we are driving on a highway that has a more or less defined goal. Therefore, intuitive decisions often lead to the same conclusion. That’s why it is even more important that the existing pattern (the highway) leads to a goal that serves us and does not counteract us.

One advantage of decision-making processes based on intuition is that rational thinking can be incorporated. Unlike decisions based on spontaneous affectivity, no hormones are released that prevent the body from activating rational thinking.

Through rational thinking, long-term consequences of one’s own actions or decisions based on one’s intuition can be weighed and lead to a more efficient output. The use of intuition that encounters conscious experience or conscious thinking is called „input-output mapping“ by the German neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer, which is supposed to describe the matching of intuitive decision-making with conscious perception.

At the latest through the influence of rational thinking, the decision through intuition, with comparison to the conscious (input-output mapping), is no longer a mere, difficult to quantify gut feeling with little or no consideration of long-term consequences, but a useful tool for everyday life.

Intuition and rational cognition are time-delayed events in decision-making. This means that input-output mapping needs its well-considered time. Therefore, Roth warns against quick decisions based solely on intuition in everyday life, as intuitive decision-making does not take into account aspects such as long-term consequences before being compared to the rational. By controlling actions and decisions, one can increase the success rate of input-output mapping, as more and more factors can be rationally taken into account.

Rational thinking

Even if conscious perception is matched with intuitive decisions through input-output mapping, rational thinking is much more flexible and adaptable. This allows us to respond to new and hitherto unknown information and situations. Here, there is no need for patterns that would lead to a more or less pre-programmed decision. Rational thinking takes longer because of this increased flexibility, but it is much less error-prone.

Buying decisions

For buying decisions, we go back to the old number of 98%. That is how much a decision is influenced by the subconscious. That is the intuitive feeling about a service or a product. Even if we have a product where the purchase decision is driven or has more rational thoughts involved, the influence of the subconscious, intuition, is still a major influence in the final choice. Considering the factor of time, the more time the consumer has before a purchase, the more rational he is going to get. To bridge that, there are factors such as moderation which can create the necessary urge to buy the product as fast as possible. We see those tactics on almost all E-Commerce platforms, where we are told that only 3 products are left in stock. We also may see next to it, how many people have viewed the product and are interested in buying it. A product is on a discount but just for the next 4 hours, otherwise, it will go up to the full price. Those are types of moderation which should create an urge to buy them based on the time factor as well as the competition with other customers. Some people are more influenced by this than others and tend to impulse decisions based on Spontaneous affectivity, which is a reaction without any thoughts. Some tend to not fall for any of that and stay calm, some view those tactics as pushy and tend to go to another website just because one tries to influence them.

Build a pattern

In order to influence Intuition, is to create a pattern of information evolving the product or service. This means that the company has to be present in the consumer’s world, engage with it, and influence it positively. This way, the neurological network that gathers more and more information and emotion about the company, will act in favour of the purchase decision. This engagement doesn’t necessarily just have to be about the offering. It is like a friend, that engages in the life of another friend. There isn’t always a motivation behind an engagement instead the engagement is for the engagement’s sake. The best way to view branding is to build that friend, the artificial friend.

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