We Are Living in a Peripheral World

The more information we have, the more informed decisions we should all make.

But the opposite may actually be true: We are now barraged by so much information that we seek every shortcut we can to simplify decisions. (And quell the anxiety over making wrong decisions.)

“What car should I buy? I’m not sure, but my best friend is a smart guy, and he drives an Audi.”

“Where should I book my hotel room? I narrow my choices to the top three TripAdvisor reviews.”

“Does Nikon really make a good camera? I don’t know, but the brand is familiar and I sure like those Ashton Kutcher commercials.”

We’d like to think that we’re rational thinking machines—studiously evaluating all of the alternatives—but the opposite is increasingly true. We depend more than ever on peripheral cues and heuristics to make decisions big and small. At home and at work.

That’s good news for branding experts, of course. But there’s more: Marketers need to spend more time wooing “target influencers” instead of bombarding target consumers with more information.