The Limbic System Part 1
11 Minute Read
Platinum or white gold? Dynamics or tradition? Jewelry buyers are the factors that make your company strong or weak and determine with their purchasing patterns your success or failure. As entrepreneur, you make every effort to sell as much as you can to customers for the highest possible prize. And you fail. The reason: buyers by no means behave as freely as has been assumed until now.
Cultured pearl ring or rose quartz bracelet: all decisions are governed by the subconscious with its successful program of limbic instructions. This limbic system is the actual center of power in the brain. "My customer makes conscious decisions". You should drop this assumption quickly, as the subconscious contributes 70 percent to all decisions. It is far stronger than has been assumed to date. The brain only makes a 30 percent conscious decision. "Consumers do not like sales tricks". This assumption is also erroneous. Many forms of sales promotion do not reach the buyer's consciousness. The buyer is therefore unable to decide whether he or she accepts or refuses the sales promotion. "The cerebrum is not the seat of reason": correct, as this is where the instructions from the limbic system are put into practice. "Customers' brains like working subconsciously" - that is true. Information that our brains absorb subconsciously are processed much faster. One example: the clasp on your string of pearls or wristwatch keeps coming undone. So you automatically reach for it before it falls to the ground. Without any conscious decision, the brain has already responded according to the motto: why make a conscious decision if I already have the experience I need? Pondering costs around 20 times the energy used by a comparable muscle. Only five percent is used up if the subconscious is at work. The brain renders as many decisions as possible automatically in order to save energy. The proof in your sales showroom: buyers grasp and observe the jewelry presentation from the right. Your buyers' conscious thought processes are not activated until you make the considerable effort of achieving contrast. The proof: if the eye catchers for wedding rings are boring (bouquets of flowers or Santa Claus), the brain registers " uninteresting and unnecessary carry on". Conversely, if a large-scale wedding photo conveys a sense of joy, passersby will linger.
Instructions from evolution
The roots of human behavior are found in the dawning days of the earth, as our existence is determined by the developments that preceded us. From single-cells to human beings: all human genes emerged over the course of developments spanning billions of years and have remained with us to the present day. Our principal behavioral patterns, the three limbic instructions, are recognizable in the first cells that emerged around three billion years ago. 1. Balance: safety and protection. 2. Dominance: warding off of competitors. 3. Stimulation: active investigation of one's environment. The common denominator of the instructions is to preserve the organism. These patterns of behavior did not change significantly when the first animals and then humans emerged, but instead adapted to suit the specific life forms (desert, forest, water and such like). Whether we are dealing with an amoeba or a highly developed human being, whether with or without a nose, foot or language - perception and assessment of all external stimuli take place on the basis of the specifications laid down in the limbic instructions of balance, dominance and stimulation. We now know that our genes not only define physical structure, they also pass on our skills, intelligence and personalities. Additionally, from the first day onwards, our lives are influenced by our environment (parental home, school, place of work and such like). However, we are based mainly on the defined, biological framework program, the limbic instructions of balance, dominance and stimulation.
Balance ensures safety
"Finnish jewelry design - not for us, boss." Why is your employee responding in this way? Subconsciously, she is afraid. People reject further education and companies lose touch with the market. Why? The reasons are not stubbornness and ignorance, but instead the subconscious influence of the limbic instruction of balance. It holds sway over our decisions: preserve what you know, do not waste energy, establish habits and protect the organism. The balance instruction triggers fear, but also the desire for health and a long life. Jewelry safe manufacturers, the fire brigade, insurance firms and the police are popular institutions in terms of balance. They convey safety, stability and consistency. If your goods and services are conformant to the instruction of balance, your customers will have increased needs. "So beautiful and so famous"- a VIP is the shop window eye catcher for stainless steel design. "I want to be that way too". The security induced by the balance instruction in the passerby is activated, without her being aware of it.
Stimulation seeks change
You got things wrong and the 2004 silver collection is gathering dust for months in the drawers, heavy like lead. What happened? "Looking for new stimuli", "Looking for change" and "Avoid boredom". Stimulation provides the strongest impetus for innovation. Since human beings first emerged, unusual ideas have contributed to survival in the fight for food. If they wanted to continue existing, the first life forms were first to change their habitat and to crawl around. The brain rewarded the body if new sources of food were discovered. This sensation is now known as lust. We human beings have preserved this joy of shopping. We take it for granted that we will constantly search for new stimuli: speed, vacations, movies and design. Shopping in your company and its high-quality ambience stimulates buyers, gives them recognition, appreciation, enhancement and superiority. In other communities, risk, sport and fun are numbered among the stimulating kicks. This is one of the reasons why men stop and linger in front of shop windows with model racing cars and aircraft, while the old silver collection does not stand a chance. Why do winner types attend VIP programs and why do successful events attract such masses of visitors? The stimulation instruction commands the body subconsciously: I'm going there. I want to experience something. I need stimulation.
Dominance creates the victors
"What is this meant to look like? Shop fittings from the nineties and the sales assistant's haircut from last week?" The dominance instruction subconsciously takes just a few seconds to assess: "Assert yourself", "Increase your power", "Ward off your competitors. "This is what dominance tells us to do, as it is our inherent, handed down desire for power. This instruction is stronger in men than it is in women. At the same time, the dominance instruction is also the driving force behind progress. Without the dominance instruction, there would be no managers, specialist jewelry stores or scientists. Human beings need this motivation to get to the top. These are the reasons why the economy works - we human beings always want more. We are never satisfied with what we have achieved. This is why victories are celebrated and losses are hated. Groups that wield power, for example victorious party organizations or intercontinental champion teams, attract new members. If their power base is cut, they will hemorrhage members or viewers. If you portray your company as a looser, there is no way you can win. And it doesn't matter how good you actually are.
How do consumers shop?
Imagine you were a customer standing in front of a computer shop window. You have been attracted by a 19″ flat-screen monitor in order to present your collection for an affordable prize. In the same moment that you catch sight of the monitor, your brain has already passed on the message to your limbic system for assessment. Your decision is now the lightning-speed oscillation between the participating systems of dominance, stimulation and balance. The assessment by your dominance system (assertion, power and status): "The customers will be impressed." At the same time, the brain generates images (appreciative glances and brilliant product presentation for your customers). The assessment by your balance system (safety, stability and consistency) is not long in coming: "Wait a moment, I still haven't paid off the old 19″ monitor. It is bulkier and the product presentation is less than perfect. But the quality is more than enough for a small amount of additional turnover". In lightning speed we then receive the assessment by the stimulation system (stimulus, risk, lust): "The new flat-screen monitor with the aluminum border suits the shop fittings perfectly. The image resolution will be a true pleasure also". Let us assume that you did not make a purchase because you were beset with doubt. This means that in this instance, the balance instruction came out the winner. But this only lasts for an instant, as the inner struggle persists. The subconscious games continue. If we assume that you are a person who loves recognition (dominance system). This urge will remain with you for a few days. It's just the way you are. Whenever you have time, you trawl the Internet, advertising or even discuss with your tax accountant the reasons for buying the monitor (no flickering or new opportunity for depreciation). The result: two weeks later, the flat-screen monitor is perched next to your new collection. Joining forces with your dominant behavior, your stimulation instruction has won the day. Did you notice how paltry the influence of conscious thought was on the decision? It probably wasn't even 30 percent (comparing prizes). This is the way that customers make their decisions, and no other way.
Customers' brains calculate subconsciously
"World star Boris wears freshwater pearls with diamonds": Consumers have learned from the media to style themselves on successful people, whatever the cost. Readers of popular magazines or viewers of home life reality TV shows take great pleasure in breaking out from their grey existence and to delve visually into the world of VIPs, adventurers and the beautiful people (stimulation instruction stimulus, risk, lust). Consumers also want to have this pleasure when experiencing shopping in your specialist store. Surveys have revealed that when observing products, our brains make lightning-quick calculations of prize and value. And this is also entirely subconscious. "Will I look older with the necklace?", "Does my Lions girlfriend also wear pearls?" or "Are strings of pearls now out of fashion?" You can exploit these emotive calculations if you add a high emotional value to the products. For example, the presentation of pearl products is dominated by a large, vivid picture of the South Seas with young women. And in the conversation, you drop the fact that procurement on the world market is difficult. Naturally, the ambience in your store must be right, as the subconscious has already assessed it when the customer entered the store. The world star Boris is smiling in the shop window a free parking space, a red carpet, automatic door, fresh flowers, marble and stainless steel, fresh air in the room, no steps and a friendly, welcoming smile. If you make serious mistakes, the customer will immediately punish you by cutting the value of the products. Dirty, old furnishings, a noncommittal body language and stale air are equated with the pearls being way too expensive. The subconscious has decided and that is all there is to say.
Transforming friendly customers into loyal buyers
Customer centricity is the perception and implementation of customer expectations in services. You do it every day. But quite honestly, you are finding it increasingly difficult as a decision-maker to distinguish between different sets of buyers and to create the services they require. You are constantly finding out that the numbers of typical old people or homely mothers are falling steadily. The reason: our society is becoming increasingly diverse. The solution: your range should be based on the customer needs. Individual services are grouped to form a special services program for needs. One example: until now, you have offered rings for men and rings for women. If you are to group needs in your product presentation, you would then have "rings for the world of love" with service included. Is this form of needs centricity a new way of transforming friendly customers into loyal buyers in three stages? Stage 1: consumer friendliness: Friendliness towards customers is self-evident, but not sufficient. Stage 2: customer enthusiasm: You exceed the customer expectations by offering a service cocktail and can be thrilled at your customers enthusiasm. Stage 3: With time, your enthusiastic buyers will be transformed into loyal and regular customers. Consumers who are extremely satisfied will openly declare their permanent relationships and will maintain them. However, loyal customers want constant quality in all areas. This is easier said than done. The pertinent question is therefore: how do you control your corporate quality? Here are a few more examples: in your company, the human resources department exerts the greatest influence on the quality experienced by visitors. Accordingly, the staff quality must be tailored to suit the customers (staff selection, training and motivation). The external review of the corporate quality is carried out by experts and briefed customers.
"12,000 euros of costs, hardly any sales and only 21 guests": boring events are a catastrophe, as we human beings perceive a lack of stimulus as a punishment. We detest boredom and love variety. The stimulation instruction is responsible for this (survival urge, curiosity and the love of risk). The influence is so strong that we human beings are almost powerless - we are addicted to variety. The other reason for successful events: human beings are still herd animals and constantly return to their collective roots. Vacations and sporting celebrations have a similar effect.
Part two will follow in issue 2/2006
by Siegfrid Schmahl
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