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  • Writer's pictureSusan & Renée

The Neurobiology of Customer Decisions

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

As Simon Senek explains in his book, Start with Why,

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

He explains that humans make decisions based on emotions, rather than logical reasoning.

If you’re like many of us, you are smugly thinking to yourself, “Not me! I make data driven decisions that involve careful analysis of the pros and cons of all scenarios.” While it may be true that you take a very analytical approach, numerous studies on decision making have proven that the ultimate conclusion is not rooted in objective information, but on feelings.

A basic understanding of neurobiology explains this.

In brief (and we’re WAY oversimplifying here), the neocortex is the part of the brain that helps us with thinking, planning, and making rational sense of the world.

The brain’s limbic system is the center for our emotions with no capacity for language. The choices we make with the limbic brain are motivated by seeking pleasure and avoiding pain.

Sinek explains that decisions are made in the limbic system. The neocortex, the logical brain, then kicks into gear to rationalize this choice.

In other words, we do what we perceive will feel good and then create logical arguments to justify it.

It’s kind of humbling, isn’t it?

It explains why successful marketing strategies strive to make an emotional connection with the consumer.


Companies that enjoy long-term success don’t rely on continually finding new ways to manipulate your emotions, making you feel like you’ve got to “ACT NOW!” and purchase their product to avoid being a loser.

Instead, successful companies communicate their WHY and inspire you to join them in their cause.

This explains why we feel fiercely loyal to some brands (think Apple, Harley Davidson, Southwest Airlines). By purchasing their product, you become part of their tribe. You have a sense of belonging because you are buying from a company that gets you and shares your beliefs.

For these reasons, it is important that companies go beyond disseminating information about their product and communicate their WHY for being in business in the first place.

How this is done is a topic for another time, but for now, stop and consider:

When reaching out to potential customers, do you manipulate? or do you inspire?

Share your thoughts and questions! We’d love to help you get clarity on your WHY.

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