Ask three people in the industry what constitutes a “consumer insight” and you’ll get three different answers, if you get any answer at all. I used to believe that consumer insights were some definitive thing that would always “wow” the room, and create value in its wake. It was the answer to every manager’s problem. Finding it, when no one else could, was always my job.
Only in the last few years have I found a method for being consistently successful at uncovering consumer insights. And I suppose it took my travels down the path of hunting for marketing insights to really understand where to find them. For marketing insights are never in the same place from one effort to the next.
What is an insight?
Here is the secret – the one thing I wish I had fully understood 15 years ago when I started to really look. You’ll find consumer insights only when you fully understand the wants and needs of the person who sent you on the hunt.
What constitutes an “insight” will be different for different types of people and different individual people. This is because someone will deem information insightful when it:
- Wasn’t something they knew before
- It helped them make a critical decision.
How to use research to uncover insights
Research is always commissioned to solve a problem. That problem has to be fully understood. Usually, it’s best to understand it in terms of the business decisions that someone has to make.
For example, the brand manager isn’t interested in sales data (even though they may tell you otherwise). They’re only interested in information that will help them understand why sales are where they are, how sales are changing, and what he or she can do to influence that change.
Sales data alone isn’t a marketing insight. Sales data delivered in a context that will help a brand manager make the right decisions to better manage his or her portfolio and increase sales constitutes marketing insight.
It must always start with the decisions that the key stakeholders need to make. You have to ask them, and fully understand, what decisions they need to make, what information is going to help them make those decisions, and the best format in which to deliver that information. When you know this, you possess the fundamental necessities required to deliver valuable marketing insights in your reporting.
There are tried and true methods and patterns and things that can serve as tools and approaches to these ends, but you can only go into your tool box and pull out the right approach once you know exactly where your Client needs you to be. You get there by finding out what keeps them up at night – what decisions they must make, but don’t have the information needed to make them.
When you can do that, you’re delivering consumer insights.
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