The System1 Book

We think
much less
than we think
we think!

Human beings make decisions in two ways. One is slow, deliberate and calculating. The other is fast, instinctive and emotional. And the fast one is in the driving seat. Psychologists call it System 1.

This book shows how businesses can achieve profitable growth by devising their marketing for System 1 decision-making. It reveals how designing for System 1 can unlock success across innovation, advertising, brand building and shopper marketing. It brings together years of work on how people buy, and how to get them buying you.

Buy now
Read online

We also offer workshops to train your team to think System1.
Just get in touch to find out more.

Contact Us

Watch the video on the Book Launch Parties from Chicago, New York and London to get a glimpse of the fun we had with clients while discussing System 1 thinking for brand success.

You can also watch The System1 Song based on the book. 


The System1 Book
About the authors

John Kearon


John founded and led BrainJuicer for 16 years, turning it into a global business before leading its transformation into the System1 Group. Provocative and playful, he has regularly challenged the marketing world to bring marketing into the 21st century by embracing emotion and behavioural science, and he is in constant demand as a speaker and business leader.

John Kearon
Orlando Wood

Orlando Wood

Chief Innovation Officer, SYSTEM1 GROUP

Orlando's role is to rewrite marketing best practice by drawing on the behavioural sciences. His work has moved forward thinking in the market research, marketing and advertising industries, winning him awards from the AMA, ARF, MRS, ISBA, Jay Chiat and ESOMAR. One of his passions is watercolour painting, and many of the illustrations in this book are by him.

Tom Ewing


Tom works in an innovation and consultancy role as well as leading the experimental System1 Politics team. He is also the Group’s most prolific writer, handling white papers, articles, blog posts, and more. A popular conference speaker, he’s won awards from ESOMAR, the MRS and the AMA, and has also written about pop music for The Guardian, the Village Voice, and others.

Tom Ewig
The Chapters

Chapter One - Decision-making


In Chapter One, we explore the brain’s two decision-making systems. System 1 makes fast judgments using experience, emotion and pattern recognition. System 2 is the slow and lazy policeman – good for calculation, but mostly a rubber stamp for System1.

If you don’t understand the mechanics of the thing you’re trying to change, how can you hope to achieve the change you want? Read this excellent synthesis of what contemporary behavioural science tells us and you’ll give yourself a whole better chance. Great stuff!

Mark Earls Author of ‘Copy, Copy, Copy’, ‘Herd’, ‘I’ll Have What She’s Having’, Fellow of the Marketing Society & the RSA

Chapter Two - Innovation


In Chapter Two, we show how System 1 has an instinctive preference for the familiar. For consumers to accept your innovation, embed your great new idea in the familiar to make it Fluent – easy to recognise and understand. Fluent Innovation looks 80% familiar and 20% new.

What I love about Fluent Innovation, is it puts people's wired habits and feelings at the very centre and demands more work and more empathy from marketers. 80% Familiar, 20% New is about making the unfamiliar FEEL familiar and using creativity to bridge people to the new.

Maria Mujica Leading Marketing Transformation Mondelez

Chapter Three - Advertising


In Chapter Three, we explore emotional advertising. Emotional ads are by far the most likely to create long-term profitable growth. Harness the 7 basic emotions and fluent creative devices to make great advertising. The more people feel, the more people buy.

An inspiring psychological perspective on how great advertising builds brands and how you can sustain that success over the long-term. A must-read for marketers and agencies alike.

Janet Hull, OBE IPA Director of Marketing Strategy

Chapter Four - Brand Building

Brand Building

In Chapter Four, we unveil the 3 rules for building brands: Fame, Feeling and Fluency. Brands should come readily to mind (Fame), feel good (Feeling) and be distinctive (Fluency). The 3 Fs explain current market share, predict share gain and create brand value: they are the keys to profitable growth.

This provocative little book makes the complicated simple and clarifies the obscure. Even if it’s not the whole story (what is?) the mantra of Fame, Feeling and Fluency would improve most advertisers’ campaigns enormously. It’s worked for plenty of others, including Donald Trump.

Paul Feldwick Writer, Planner and Consultant
>Brand Building

Chapter Five - Shopper Marketing

Shopper Marketing

In Chapter Five, we reveal how System 1 works in the purchase environment. Don’t create stopping power, which encourages caution and limits sales. Instead, create moving power, enabling shoppers to buy easily and instinctively.

As expected John Kearon has proven his ability to challenge conventional wisdom and break consolidated paradigms in marketing. His passionate, yet fluid and easy to understand evidence for how individuals make choices represent the new essentials for anyone who attempts to win the battle of marketing. System1 is not only a book worth reading, it is a book whose learning is worth integrating in any marketing action.

Marco Aureggi & Giorgio Caporusso CMI & BI Global Director & Managing Director Pubbliregia, in house advertising agency, Ferrero Group
Shopper Marketing

Be more System1

Interested in working for a company that’s changing the way research is done?