HOW DO YOU CHOOSE? HEART VS. MIND

When consumers encounter promotions while shopping, they are compelled to act on their visceral impulses. At Sentient Decision Science, we call this compulsion hot-state decision making. Hot-states lead to a reduction in immediate self-control (Loewenstein, 2000), and many marketing campaigns emphasize immediate action with hot phrases like “One day only!” and “Call now!

Catchy slogans, such as “Hungry? Grab a Snickers’®,” Nike®’s “Just Do It,” and Sprite®’s “Obey Your Thirst,” tap into these visceral states and motivate immediate consumer behavior. As a result, consumers often fail to return to a cold-state, where the rational mind might be able carry greater weight on the decision.

From a marketing perspective, encouraging hot-state decision making has the potential to boost short-term sales since consumers will buy products during hot-states through simple reminders of their visceral depletions (e.g. “I am really thirsty!” or “I forgot how hungry I was!”). However, this may not always be the best strategy for long-term growth since consumers will often regret their decision later. Research continues to show that people are unable to fully comprehend why they acted so impulsively in past hot-states (Loewenstein, 1996), and decision regret can in turn lead to reduced customer loyalty and satisfaction.

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