Traditional marketing is often based on a rational consumer model that views the consumer as persuadable by rational arguments and consciously aware of what drives his purchase decisions. However, brain science research has demonstrated that an intuitive consumer model provides a more realistic picture of how consumers actually decide and buy. The following table presents the key differences between these two models.

The Rational Consumer Model The Intuitive Consumer Model
Information about brands and products drives purchase decisions. Habit, experience, and emotional cues provide shortcuts to making decisions.
Factual information can be retrieved by the consumer, completely and accurately. Feelings about products and brands are the main memories retrieved by consumers; facts are remembered sporadically and often incorrectly.
Preferences are determined rationally. They’re clear, unambiguous, and enduring. Preferences are rarely the products of careful logical analysis. More often, they’re inferred from the consumer’s behavior, rather than the other way around.
A cost-benefit calculation is made to make a purchase decision at the point of sale. Most purchase decisions are made spontaneously and without much conscious deliberation at the point of sale.
Preferences can only be changed by presenting new information. Product and brand preferences can be changed by changing the situation within which the consumer is shopping.
Marketing and advertising communications are messages that deliver rational, logical arguments about brands and products. Marketing and advertising primarily influence consumers in nonconscious ways. At a conscious level, consumers believe ads and marketing have no effect on them.
Marketing and communications influence consumers by providing logical arguments that are consciously remembered at the point of sale. The primary way that advertising influences the consumer is indirectly, through repetitive association of the advertised brand or product with positive themes and images.