Emotions, the hidden forces that shape subconsciously our decisions

How do you unearth the subconscious needs of your (potential) customers?

Most market research methods are still based on old fashioned premises that humans decide pre-dominantly rationally (so called “homo oeconomicus” assumption). However revolutionary breakthroughs and findings in sciences such as brain research, behavioural economics and psychology of emotions have proven in the last decade that this is not true.

It should come as no surprise that you can't always believe what you hear in qualitative and quantitative research, or anywhere else. Some people still believe that any interviewer or moderator who can put participants at ease will get them to talk "openly," creating the "right atmosphere" where the truth will come pouring out. This attitude has all too often led to findings which are clear-cut, simple, non-ambiguous and wrong.

Most qualitative market research methods can not solve the following key problem: How do you unearth the hidden wishes of the target group? How do you improve products and their communication, if the addressees can’t or don’t want to verbalize what is „better“?

If you choose to ask specific questions, you automatically reduce the options of potential an-swers. If you ask why they bought a category, brand or product, all you get is a bunch of clichés: One particular brand or product “tastes, smells, looks or is “better" than another” – even though product tests most often demonstrate that respondents can not tell the difference in blind tests.

The solution to this dilemma is: „to ask without asking.“

Exactly this is strength of the Limbique Emotional Explorer (LEE) approach. The Limbique Emotional Explorer is a qualitative technique developed in a multi science approach which permits in-depth research into emotional experience and feelings and makes them apparent to the observer. LEE digs deeper than traditional psychological methods to unearth “hidden knowledge” and “unconscious cause-and-effect-chains” – the underlying beliefs and feelings that influence the behaviour of consumers or of other stakeholders. 95% of all “decisions” are taken subconsciously as recent brain research findings have proven. LEE is designed to elicit rich data from this realm of unconscious knowledge and market drivers.

A LEE group usually requires a total day (about 8 hours including breaks) in order to allow longer warming up and to generate subsequently a thorough understanding of current and potential consumers. LEE groups are led and interpreted by a well experienced psychologist who was specially trained for several years in the wealth of LEE techniques.

Symbolic attribution and scenic acting as data-gathering methods offer the possibility to integrate the main qualitative data collection methods such as explorations, observation and experiment in one single powerful research tool: the Limbique Emotional Explorer (LEE). The aim is to use their respective advantages, whilst avoiding their specific disadvantages via parallel application of all three (additional) methods. Additionally, the LEE uses a wealth of other techniques in order to obtain even greater insights into the consumer. Depending on specific research objectives and situations we incorporate a vast array of method adapted from psychotherapy, cognitive neuroscience, emotional psychology, behavioural economics and sociology. - There is no “one research design fits it all” LEE project. Each study is tailored to meet specific needs of the client.

Each LEE step or exercise provides a different opportunity and often perspective for gaining deep insights about consumers or other stakeholders. The use of multiple exercises also increases the likelihood of unearthing important insights that might be missed by more narrowly focused techniques. At the same time, each step provides validation from other steps, a process known as convergent validity. That is, redundancy adds confidence about the validity of the initially hidden in-sights which come to the surface.

The LEE therefore provides a holistic approach to understand the consumer. Consumers often become aware of their motives for the first time and can express the emotions connected with them. And they do this in a way which market researchers and marketing managers can follow and understand.

Projective techniques such as the LEE have been used in more than 1000 international marketing applications successfully. Its insights generated sustainable competitive advantage and paved the way to outstanding successes (click on the case study examples below for more insights).


R. Mayer de Groot: Marketing: Radikal umdenken oder abschaffen, Markenartikel 1-2 2007, S. 42 ff. R. Mayer de Groot: Rollenspiele schärfen die Erkenntnis: Emotionen sind ein wichtiger Wachstumsmotor, Lebensmittel Zeitung 20.09.2002 S. 70

The following case studies indicate the opportunities:
Beck's Gold Case Study Beck's International Case Study Birds Eye Case Study CMA Case Study DYMO Case Study Hasseröder Case Study Iglo 4 Sterne Menue Case Study Kathi Case Study Landliebe Case Study Langnese Cremissimo Case Study Leitz Case Study LEKI Case Study Milka Case Study Moet Case Study N-Ergie Case Study Niederegger Case Study Nivea Case Study PerfectDraft Case Study TV Hören und Sehen Case Study WeightWatchers Case Study Wrigley´s Extra Case Study