Limbic® Personas

Limbic® personas are a marketing tool based on findings from psychology, brain research, evolutionary biology, and consumer research. It was developed by Dr. Hans-Georg Häusel and is applied in various industries, for example, in consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks and service providers. The basic idea is to influence unconscious motives and emotions, and thus human behavior to a great extent. This also applies to buying decisions and consumer behavior. The special feature of the Limbic® approach is the assumption that action is decisively determined by the emotional system, which is located in the human limbic system.

General information

Dr. Hans-Georg Häusel designed the Limbic® concept in the late 1990s. He had three main objectives in mind:

  • Limbic® is meant to be a holistic approach that combines and links the findings of various scientific disciplines dealing with human behavior and decision-making. A larger context was to be established.
  • Limbic® is supposed to be as simple and user-friendly as possible for marketing and sales, so that it is also useful for human behavior even without scientific knowledge.
  • Limbic® should use a consistent and clear symbolism so that the essence of the concept is captured and understood by as many readers as possible.

The concept is aimed at marketing professionals, salespeople, management, and company executive boards. It is not limited to application as an instrument for neuromarketing. It is also used as an approach to strategic decisions such as brand positioning. It has also been used in sales promotion on the Internet for a number of years to enable a more precise target group approach in the form of language, design, and interaction elements on websites.

How it works

The Limbic® model initially assumes fundamental differences in personality. Consumers are very different in terms of their consumption, buying behavior, and brand preferences. These differences are based on the emotions and motive systems of humans. Brain research assumes that decisions are dependent on emotions and are made on the basis of these emotions. The question is, therefore, which emotional systems exist in the human brain and how these findings can be helpful and useful to marketing.

The Big 3 of the Limbic® model

The three basic needs of food, sleep, and sexuality are supplemented by three central emotions. The Big 3 determine human thought and action, in addition to the three basic needs. The Big 3 were apparently confirmed internationally by studies. They are considered as systems that determine human action.

  • Balance (objectives: security, stability, order)
  • Dominance (objectives: power, status, enforcement)
  • Stimulant (objectives: curiosity, adventure, reward)

The Limbic®-Types

From these three emotion systems, further subsystems can be derived that are different in each individual:   Traditionalists: tradition and security (balance + discipline / control)

  • Harmonizer: Harmony and care (focus on balance + binding / care)
  • Open connoisseurs: openness and enjoyment (balance + stimulant)
  • Hedonists: fun and creativity (focus on stimulants)
  • Adventurer: adventure and risk (stimulus + dominance)
  • Performer: success and status (focus on dominance)
  • Discipline: discipline and control (balance + dominance)

In fact, a complex interplay of different brain regions with numerous nerve agents is involved in the decision-making process. The customer types are simplified to a certain extent. Moreover, a part of the personality is characterized by education, experiences, and cultural practices. The Limbic® types are a representation of these different personality structures. The personality structures, in turn, are a representation of the complex processes in the limbic system.

The Limbic® map

These customer types can be visualized using the Limbic® map. This is a matrix which assigns the individual’s emotional spectrum to the different motifs, values, and desires and shows their relationships. The Limbic® map can be used to form brand messages or strategies for brand management so that the brand’s statement fits into the motif and value structures of the customer groups.

Practical relevance

The Limbic approach can be applied in the following areas:

  • Motif and purchase analysis
  • Brand positioning
  • Brand management
  • target group segmentation
  • Age and gender marketing
  • Sales training

The Limbic® personas can be used in many ways as a tool for neuromarketing. The insights about the different customer groups can be used when launching a new product in order to adapt the advertising message, language, and design to the preferred customer type, for example. The Limbic® personas can also be helpful in brand management. Brain brands communicate messages that match the style of their customers according to their statements. The same applies to the design of a website, its ad copy and its interaction elements such as buttons, forms or links.  

Relevance to online marketing

Limbic® personas provide a deeper insight into people’s consumption and buying habits. As a holistic approach, findings from different scientific disciplines are combined and condensed into a practical approach. Whether marketers, managers or web designers - the findings can be useful for different areas. Limbic® personas also stand out from the conventional AIDA mode by focusing on the complex processes in the brain and no more theoretical assumptions are postulated that are hardly based on any empirical observations. However, the extent to which the Limbic approach is scientifically based is difficult to assess, because marketing is the driving force behind the concept. Even if the approach works and generates revenue, that does not mean that the assumptions made have been scientifically proven.

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