Your Rational Decisions – Aren’t. Part 3

I’ve been talking about the shortcuts your brain makes when coming to a decision. It carries on a conversation with itself reviewing all the memories, facts and emotions possibly related to the item in front of you. Here is how branding will get you to spend money based on these Somatic Markers.

Being a good Mom …or just Shampoo?
Let’s take Johnson’s Baby shampoo. It’s been around for ages and stays true to its brand image. The color is a rich gold associated with warmth and comfort, like a hug for your baby. It is translucent – a sign of honesty and purity – like fresh water would be – what we want for our children. They use the term “no more tears” right on their bottle. Tears are associated with hurt and pain – and we would never want that for our child based on associations and memories we have about childhood or caring for kids. We want to be good Mom’s based on expectations from society, and our own personal aspirations. Therefore we want to ensure that we choose the best for our kids. All of this is wrapped up in a little package of shampoo.

Give Your Shortcuts a Reality Check
Next time you go shopping and have an extra minute or so, pick an item. Think about why you’re really buying it, and how long you’ve been buying the brand. If it is a higher priced item, perhaps you want to collect a few more facts about it before you make the purchase. Recognize you will always have those brain short cuts, but ensure you throw as many facts into the process as you can. Just upgrade your knowledge by doing a bit more research – online, with friends, using consumer reports. This will assist you in spending your money as wisely as possible.

Carrie Rattle is a Principal at, a web site for women focused on the psychology of money behaviors. She has worked in the financial services industry for 20+ years and hopes to inspire women to better prepare themselves for financial independence. Thoughts always welcome:

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