Note to readers: Our latest column Marketing Mocktail breaks down and explains the big ideas, new disruptions and old concepts and marketing practices that matter in the modern age.
Consumer insight is one of the most used (and abused) terms in brand marketing and advertising.
If brand marketing is the business of ideas, then consumer insights are the illuminating force behind the ideas.
Unfortunately, marketers use the word ‘insight’ loosely. Everything from data to research findings to general observations are termed as insights.
What is a consumer insight?
The dictionary meaning of insight is ‘the act or result of comprehending the inner nature of things or seeing intuitively.’
A consumer insight is a penetrating and discerning discovery about your consumer that unlocks a brand or communication opportunity.
The late Jeremy Bullmore said that an insight is like “When you open the fridge, and the light comes on."
A consumer insight lies at the cusp of three things:
•Observation: What people say or do
•Cues: How people say it or do it
•Feelings: Why people say it or do it
A good insight should be:
•Fresh: it always makes you say, “Why didn’t I think of this before?”
•Intuitive: you should be able to feel the insight in your gut.
•Relevant: when played back to other target consumers it should strike a chord.
•Enduring: should have the potential to remain relevant over time.
•Inspiring: the team should be excited by the insight, and it should lead to ideas.
Consumer insights can be used to create brand ideas, advertising and communication, developing products and designing customer experience.
Consumer Insight v/s Universal Truth
More often, marketers make the mistake of equating universal truths for consumer insights. A consumer insight is much deeper, more specific, and not superficial.
A universal truth can be a starting point for an insight, but it’s not an insight.
For example, a universal truth is: ‘Parents want their kids to do well in life’ (too superficial to be an insight).
An insight in this context would be: ‘Parents want to fulfil their unfulfilled dreams through their kids.'
How to unlock an insight
While many tools and techniques have been propagated on insight mining, the truth is that unlocking an insight is non-linear, and more often, does not get discovered in a structured manner.
In fact, the best insights tend to come out of informal observations, conversations and by hanging out with consumers and not necessarily from formal research.
As the saying goes, ‘If you want to know how a lion hunts, go to the jungle not to the zoo.’
Most of the time, you may not actually be hunting for an insight and viola it happens. It is a Eureka! moment like Newton’s Apple and Archimedes’ Tub. It can happen anywhere - while observing consumers use your brand, while chatting with them about their lives, while watching them shop, while reading a book or watching a movie.
A consumer insight should never be about validation through numbers. It can be a discovery even from a single consumer.
A consumer can never articulate an insight, you must decipher it from what the consumer says and does. It is like reading between the lines by getting under the skin of the consumer.
Whatever may be the method, unlocking an insight is an art that evolves when a marketer’s radar is on and antenna up, all the time.
Some good insights
Great insights are simple yet powerful. They seamlessly dovetail into ideas.
Let’s look at some examples.
Insight: ‘Guys always fantasise about girls making the first move.’
Idea: The Babe Magnet - Axe Effect
Insight: ‘You are not you when you’re hungry.’
Idea: Relieves hunger to make you, you again
Insight: ‘Women don’t consider themselves beautiful, because they don’t fit the stereotype of beauty created by the media and society.’
Idea: Campaign for 'Real Beauty'
A BODY LOTION BRAND
Insight: ‘When it comes to skin, women tend to play favourites. It’s always face over body’.
Idea: Your body is as important as your face
BABYCHAKRA - Parenting platform and baby care products
Insight: ‘For first time parents, a baby brings both joy and anxiety. They look for ways to enhance the joy and reduce the anxiety.’
Idea: Discover the joy of parenting
Insight: ‘Moms are hesitant about using insect repellent creams on their babies’ skin’.
Idea: Mosquito Repellent Patch - new product
Insight: ‘Everyone is so spotlessly and perfectly clean in ads on TV. Every ad is a Tide ad’.
Idea: It’s a Tide ad - If it’s clean, it’s Tide.
Insight: ‘My jeans are like a second skin. I live in them.’
Idea: Live in Levi’s
Next time you are looking for a big idea for your brand or advertising, start by unlocking an insight. Go to the jungle and not to the zoo.
Remember, no insight - no idea.
Anand Narasimha is a corporate turned academician with over three decades of experience spanning Brand Marketing, Advertising, Consulting, and Teaching. He writes the column Marketing Mocktail for Storyboard18. Views expressed are personal.