How to Use Dual Process Theory to Promote Your Cannabis Brand

An essential part of successful marketing in any industry is understanding consumer behavior and how psychology affects purchasing decisions. There are many different psychological theories and models that can be used to more effectively match marketing tactics and messages to different consumers depending on their buyer personas and where they are in the purchasing process. Dual process theory is one of those psychological theories you should know.

By learning what dual process theory is and considering it as you develop marketing programs for your cannabis brand (or even for B2B ancillary brands selling to cannabis license holders), your marketing results will improve.

Understanding the Two Systems of Dual Process Theory

The dual process theory was first introduced by American psychologist William James in the 1800s, but it didn’t become popular in psychology circles until 2003 when Daniel Kahneman introduced the two systems of the model.

In simplest terms, dual process theory tells us there are two distinct systems at work in the brain when a person is making a decision. These two systems are referred to as system one and system two.

System One of Dual Process Theory

System one is unconscious and can be irrational. Purchasing decisions reliant on system one are typically for things that are necessities or impulse buys. They’re automatic and can be emotional or instinctual because they’re made quickly and with little or no effort. As you might expect, decisions to buy cheap products are often made using system one.

When a consumer sees an item at the checkout counter and says, “I need this,” or “I love this,” and tosses one of those items on the counter with the other items they’re buying, they’re using system one.

System Two of Dual Process Theory

System two is much more rational and requires thought. When people have to make what they perceive to be more complicated decisions, they use system two of dual process theory. These purchase decisions require effort, so it takes time to make them.

When a consumer invests time and energy into making the smartest and best purchase decision, they’re using system two. As you’d expect, high ticket items are usually purchased after a consumer uses system two to make a decision.

How to Promote Your Cannabis Brand Based on Dual Process Theory’s Two Systems

First, think about the type of product you’re selling and consider how difficult the purchase decision will be for consumers.

Keep in mind, different buyer personas may feel very differently about the purchase decision for a specific item. For example, a consumer who has been using cannabis for years will make cannabis product purchase decisions very differently than a senior citizen who is new to the market.

Promoting Based on System One

The key to promoting your brand to consumers using system one to make a buying decision is to use simple messages and lots of visuals that help them make quick and easy decisions. Appeal to their emotions and desires and help them say, “I need this,” or “I love this.” Entertaining and emotional videos are also very effective when appealing to system one.

Just make sure you don’t provide too many choices in your marketing. You don’t want to distract consumers or make the purchase decision harder by providing too many options.

Promoting Based on System Two

Consumers who are using system two of dual process theory to make a purchase decision need information to help them make the smartest and best decision. That means you need to appeal to the logical part of their brain by providing details, data, comparisons, and descriptions. Tutorial and demo videos work well to provide the details that consumers using system two need.

Focus on communicating how your products or services add purpose and deliver value. Provide multiple choices so consumers feel certain they’ve gotten all of the information they need to make a decision with confidence.

Key Takeaways about Dual Process Theory and Promoting Cannabis Brands

It’s important to understand that every purchase decision is different as is every consumer. In addition, most purchase decisions include aspects of system one and system two. However, if you take the time to understand each of your target audiences and personalize your marketing campaigns to appeal to the system (or systems) consumers in that audience are most likely to rely on for the product you’re promoting, your results should improve.

Consumer behavior is guided by human psychology, and the more you can learn about how the mind works and how decisions are made, the better equipped you’ll be to create marketing campaigns that help you reach your goals for your cannabis brand and business. Dual process theory is just one of the psychological processes at work, but it’s an important one to consider as you develop each new marketing initiative.

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