Consumer Insights are little secrets hidden beneath the surface, that explain the underlying behaviors, motivations, pain points and emotions of your consumers. Brands should think of consumer insights as a competitive advantage, equal in importance to a patent or intellectual property. The insights are what enable brands to connect with their consumers on a deeper emotional level, showing your consumer that “WE GET YOU” so that consumers will stop and listen to your brand’s promise, brand story, innovation and consumer experiences that you create along the pathway to becoming a beloved brand.
The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”. Too many Marketers think that data, trends and facts are insights. You have to keep looking, listening and digging to get beneath the facts. Ask yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you start to see an “AHA moment”.
I always do this little test asking if this is an insight: “Consumers in Brazil brush their teeth 4x a day compared with only 1.8 times per day for Americans”. I can usually find someone in the room who says that’s an insight. But, look at how very little we know about the oral care habits of Brazilians. If we rely on this as insight and don’t dig in to ask “why” then it could lead us to making a huge mistake in judgement. It might be that Brazilians stand closer to each other so we launch a breath freshener. Or they eat spicier foods, so we go with a heavy duty germ killing mouthwash. Or, we believe they might lack fluoride in their water system, so we launch a Fluoride Toothpaste. Or we think it’s a vanity play and that Brazilians believe they are the most beautiful people on the planet, so we launch a whitener. All these answers remain at the surface level. It is a sign of laziness on the Marketers view. It could take you down a path where you end up missing out on connecting with the real feelings of consumers.
Data is only valuable when turned into stories that can share the wisdom gained from the data. Think slowly through your analysis to avoid making a snap instinctual decisions on one data point without gaining the understanding of the richness in underlying insight and cause.
Ask questions that force you deeper. Avoid the cliches (e.g. Baby Boomers want to live longer) that keep you at the surface level and stop you from doing the deep thinking to get to the rich, meaningful insights. When you have a data point, ask yourself 5 times “so what does this mean” to go deeper and deeper.
You will see your opinion turn into a fact based consumer insight that can align a team and drive action.
360 degrees mining for Consumer Insights
You can start with market data, observations, voice of the consumer, emotional needs and life moments. Here are the 5 areas to dig into:
- What we can read: Using all the data available through market share results, tracking studies or category trends, you should be looking for explanations of the data breaks, drivers, inhibitors, trends with consumers, channels, competitors
- What we see: Observations of the consumer reactions in focus groups, product tests, ad testing, direct consumer engagements to add to insights.
- What we hear: Listen to Voice of Consumer (VOC) with comments on social media, brand reviews, market research. Look for word choices.
- What we sense: Use our emotional need state cheat sheet to understand potential emotional insights.
- Day in the Life Moments: Map out your consumer’s life and their underlying behaviors, motivations, pain points and emotions. Draw conclusions on how their life impacts their path to purchase.
Once you have completed all 5 zones on your 360 degree mining, can you begin drawing conclusions for the insights. You have to get in the consumer’s shoes, then observe, listen and understand how they think, act, feel and behave. You have to know their fears, motivations, frustrations and desires. Learn their secrets, that only they know, even if they can’t explain. Learn to use their language and their voice.
Writing meaningful insights
From the work you do on the 360 degree mining, force yourself to get in the shoes of your consumer and to use their voice. To do so, you have to write every insight starting with the word “I” to get the Marketer into the shoes of the consumer and put the insight in quotes to use their voice.
Working in the quit smoking business, our starting point was: Studies show that people try to quit cold turkey 7x before reaching for a smoking aid to help them quit. This is very fact based, but not very insightful. As we watched focus groups, we could see that Smokers become very agitated, when talking about quitting smoking. You can see how frustrated they are with their failed attempts. When we listened to what they said, we heard them say, “I feel guilty that I can’t quit. I know it’s expensive. But when I do, I’m really not myself. I get so irritable that I give up”. Looking at the emotional need states, we could sense they lacked the confidence to quit, and they feel out of control when they make an attempt to quit. And when we tried to see where this fit into their lives, could we understand that each time they tried quit, they felt miserable. They told us how they take it out on those around them, whether that’s their friends or their wife. They think their friends would almost rather they keep smoking than have to deal with the terrible version of themselves.
The consumer insight (Connection point) that we drew out was: “I know I should quit. I’ve tried to quit so many times, it’s ridiculous. I’m not myself, I’m grouchy, irritable and feel out of control. Quitting smoking sucks!!!” When we share this secret with a smoker who wants to quit, they say, “Yup, that’s exactly how I feel”. The consumer enemy (Pain Point) we came up with was: “I fear quitting smoking will bring out the monster in me, tuning me into the worst version of my personality.”
You will know you have a powerful CONSUMER INSIGHT, when consumers stop and say, “I thought I was the only one who felt like that.”
Where the Consumer Insights show up on the Brand
You need to bring the Consumer Insights to life in each of your brand’s five consumer touch-points: promise, brand story, innovation, purchase moment and consumer experience.
- Brand Promise: Consumer insights demonstrate to our consumers that we understand them, and the consumer enemy elevates the consumer problem that the brand solves.
- Brand Story: Consumer insights educate, inspire and challenge the creative teams to produce amazing brand communication that immediately connects with consumers. The best brand communications reflect the consumer insights helping move consumer to see, think, feel, act or whisper to their friends.
- Innovation: Consumer insights should be at the forefront of every product concept to immediately connect, letting consumers know this product has been designed for them. With consumer enemies and insights brands can develop an Innovation Plan to drive new ideas, concepts, testing, launches through the system.
- Purchase Moment: Consumer insights inspire shopper insights, as you begin to understand how your brand impacts their life moving through a buying system on the path to purchase. Turning consumer insights into shopper insights allows the brand to Influence the Purchase Moment with channels, merchandising and e-commerce
- Consumer Experience: As you will see how the consumer interacts with your brand, begin to listen, adjust and win over the consumer as they build your brand into the rituals of their lives. Use consumer insights to build brand experience by Influencing the Culture with a Brand Credo, explaining purpose, values and expected behaviors.
There is one source of revenue, not the product you sell, but the consumers who buy.
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