When going about the product selection and development process, we ask several questions, including how the product will be used, who will use it, the product’s aesthetics, what pain points it addresses, what materials it will be composed of, what problems will it solve, what is the target market, how will the product be marketed, how much will it cost and how will it be commercialized.
What we can see here is that most, if not all, companies look toward answering the whos, whats, and hows but miss out on addressing the ever-important “whys.”
This includes questions such as:
- Why do customers buy products?
- Why do they choose specific products out of millions of options?
- Why do they get motivated to buy a specific product?
To understand the importance of these questions, we’ll have to take a deeper dive into the place that’s responsible for asking these questions in the first place; we’re talking about that complex organ in your noggin, the brain!
Entering The Brain
The brain exhibits two important properties, emotion, and reasoning; although logical reasoning plays an important part in why we choose certain products, ultimately, the act of choice is triggered by our emotions.
Delving deeper into the subconscious, we find that, as humans, we communicate and socialize through our emotions, allowing us to create meaningful relations with those around us. Of course, these connections are established through the value we perceive in these individuals and the strong emotions they invoke within us. But you’d be surprised to hear that we can establish similar emotional ties and relationships with the objects and products we love.
We’ve often seen people saying that they love a certain product despite millions of similar products being available worldwide. The important question is, how do we even establish an emotional connection with a product that doesn’t display human emotions and characteristics?
“The answer is Limbic Resonance.”
What’s Limbic Resonance?
Limbic Resonance states that the ability to share deep emotional states comes from within the limbic section of the brain. This forms a non-verbal connection between humans, becoming the basis of our social connections. This means our nervous systems aren’t self-contained; rather, they’re in sync with those around us with whom we share a connection, whereby multiple mammals become in sync with each other’s emotions.
How Does That Impact Your Product?
Product design has evolved from providing utility and value or creating something habit-forming. Instead, product developers must start evoking users' emotional responses by building limbic resonance through empathy and data.
This combination of limbic resonance and our mind’s emotional attachments to products has given birth to the theory of LRUX, which enables us to identify and trigger emotions and assess their effects on a product.
LRUX focuses on human-centered design methodologies when developing or marketing a product to manifest limbic resonance with consumers, thus creating positive emotions, building lifetime relationships, and increasing advocacy.
LRUX isn’t an entire process; it’s simply a concept that can be applied to the design process. It begins with a hypothesis of what emotional value your product can deliver to users, leading to a positive outcome. The emotion and conclusion derived from the product depend upon you.
Thus, LRUX is achieved when your product can build an emotional connection with consumers. The formation of this relationship drives user behavior due to how the product is used by consumers and the feeling they gain from it. If a product can’t provide such a feeling, then it can’t differentiate itself from equally or more capable competitors.
The Statement “Brands don’t sell products, they sell emotions” stands true here.
How This Can Improve Your Product
We’re all subjected to our biological limitations; unlike a computer, we don’t make decisions purely with logic. Instead, emotional processing takes the wheel in our behavioral patterns and decision-making process. With an understanding of limbic resonance and LRUX, you can apply the following principles to improve your product.
- Integrate empathy into your product design and development to create emotional value for users
- The tradeoff here is that users create emotional connections with products which build limbic resonance
- A positive and consistent tradeoff will create a long-lasting relationship between your product and users
- A negative tradeoff means you’ll have to identify the low points within the product experience to convert them into high points
Achieving LRUX will improve the overall user experience by increasing brand loyalty, customer loyalty, competitive advantage, customer lifetime value, and product-market fit.
Building Limbic Resonance
To build limbic resonance and subsequently achieve LRUX for your product, you can focus on the following factors.
Emotional intelligence is all about understanding the emotional role of your product in the consumer’s life. This includes measuring consumer feelings, perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors in their product usage to know how it relates to their true emotions. People assign “good” and “bad” emotions to products based on how they make them feel. Identifying these bad emotions can allow you to diminish the negative properties of your product and convert them into positive emotions.
- A prevalent example is how TOMS has embodied a “one-for-one business” model in which the company donates a pair to someone in need for every pair of shoes that are sold. This has allowed their customers to assign good emotions to their products by creating a sense of purpose for consumers
What if your product was a person? Would they embody your brand’s core values?
Connecting products with your brand identity is vital for building limbic resonance; if your product is inconsistent with your brand identity, it’ll lose its emotional value. To provide relevant emotional value, you must focus on creating a product that resonates with the brand’s message while also being open to interpretation for the wider audience.
- Examples of brand identity include how Nike brands shoes with the "Just Do It" slogan and the iconic "swoosh" logo or how Adidas's shoes include its three-stripe logo. This allows long-time customers to recognize these brands instantaneously.
Imagine seeing a TV advert for a product that miraculously seems to align with all your pain points and solves all your problems as if it was made just for you. It’d be hard to resist not having such a product by your side. Presenting the product in a manner that visually connects with your users on an emotional level is the key to personalization. You can personalize your product by marketing it with perfect artwork and imagery that provide visual evidence of why it will be useful for consumers.
- An example of this is how, back in 2011 Coca Cola launched its famous "Share a Coke" campaign to reach millennials, where bottles contained popular first names which people could relate to.
Maintaining a holistic view of the entire product experience is integral to capturing a wider audience of consumers. Instead of designing with empathy for specific users, you’ll need to present the product holistically to garner the interest of all kinds of users, even those that lie outside the target audience. You can address three factors to build limbic resonance: the problems you’re solving, the solution to those problems, and the emotional value of the solution.
- An example is how Airbnb has targeted budget-conscious travelers and those looking for luxury accommodations by offering various options to suit different preferences and needs. The emotional value here comes from the sense of adventure and discovery travelers experience when staying in a unique and personalized space.
Identifying the intrinsic motivators for your users can unlock limbic resonance! If your users possess a common group of intrinsic motivators, you can relate them to your product to enhance the user experience. Just imagine if your product makes people feel that: more people will like them, they possess the best product on the market, or they want to show it off to their friends. These motivators can enhance the emotional value of your product to a great degree.
- A noteworthy example of this is how Apple uses various recycled components within the internal elements of the iPhone, thus motivating its customers to purchase an eco-friendly product.
The emotional dimension of product development and design falls entirely within the concept of limbic resonance. Creating products that can light a spark in your user’s mind can help drive your product sales through the roof. With the principles of LRUX and a focus on relevant factors, you get a sure-success formula that, when implemented right, could help you sell water to a fish, and it won’t even say no.