How to Find Legitimate Consumer Insights And Make Them Really Work for You

Change is the one constant in marketing that everyone can agree on, especially in two critical areas: the volatility of consumer attitudes and habits, and competition continually intensifying and seeking new ways to attack your brand. To keep your competitive edge, your marketing must become smarter and more innovative. This often means going back to your customer and identifying relevant insights that can become the trigger for a new product idea, a different positioning hook, or a fresh, captivating marketing campaign.

While most marketers today understand the need to find these consumer insights, defining and leveraging these insights effectively is probably the most challenging endeavor in business today. Three issues that make this task particularly difficult are:

1. Not Really an Insight – there are two important dimensions that define a legitimate insight – an attitude and/or a feeling that could result in new behavior. What marketers should focus on is an attitude that is heretofore unknown, overlooked or underappreciated, even to the consumer. All too often marketers identify a statistic (e.g. “45% say they would consider buying…”) to describe what they think is an insight. Instead, this is usually a fact or a reiteration of a need/desire that is already familiar, or possibly an interpretation that reflects the marketer’s rationale and is not the true belief of the consumer. In short, insights are not facts, but are attitudes or feelings.

2. The Process Requires Time, Patience and Experience – Nothing is more difficult in marketing than the ability to probe, analyze, and delineate between an attitude that is already known and one that reflects a new problem or subtle desire, which can then translate to a relevant insight. This ability to recognize real insights demands experience, open-mindedness and creativity, plus continued scrutiny, modification and research. The process must also be comprehensive enough to generate several hypotheses initially which can then be further refined and screened down with additional research. At the end of the process, you will want a workable number of relevant insights for quantitative testing and implementation.

3. Transforming the Insight to be Meaningful and Actionable – the quest for identifying legitimate insights for further research and validation is hard enough, but determining how it can really add practical value can be even more challenging. An insight is not worthwhile unless the resulting behavior of the customer can ultimately enhance your brand loyalty.

How to Improve Your Insight Identification Process

 The focal point of any insight is the customer’s attitude or feeling, but about what? And even more important, what is the motive or source behind the perception, conscious or unconscious? In research, one should use questioning methods that will dig deeper into the consumer’s mind, much like a clever lawyer would use when cross examining a witness or defendant in a court room.

These subtle probing techniques must go beyond accepted consumer beliefs (“ACB”), to identify insights that are real and truly distinctive. With these dissecting approaches, there can be several worthwhile sources for finding such high potential insights. For example:

•The Category – start by at least understanding the basic category drivers for product/service interest and trial, but behind these may be some underlying wishes or anxieties that have never really surfaced before. Remember, our dynamic world is constantly causing the attitudes and purchasing habits of consumers to evolve and change.

•Competition – as any market changes, so does the competition, which can open up new opportunities for modifying your customer’s perception and usage. Diagnosing the familiar strengths of the competition and most important their vulnerabilities will definitely help one discover new, unforeseen insights.

•Brand Image – it is inevitable for consumers to ask questions about the integrity and intentions of a brand, especially with the omnipresence of the internet demanding full transparency for any business today. These evolving views of your brand image will affect the relationship with its primary consumer. Such perceptions must be continually monitored; they can become real threats, but more importantly also new sources for relevant consumer insights.

•Product Delivery – it is natural to assume that your product has the capability to match or even exceed a brand’s promises or benefits, but all too often the performance does not measure up to your customer’s expectations. An in-depth assessment of this critical balance between promises and delivery can often yield new insights that will enhance your customer’s trust in a brand.

•Company Capabilities – The reputation of the parent corporation is becoming an increasingly dominant factor for assessing the potential opportunities and particularly the vulnerabilities influenced by a brand’s heritage. Sometimes an actionable insight for a specific brand can also help to provide a new perspective on the parent company, leading to an improved corporate brand image.

Converting New Insights to New Marketing Initiatives

Once the core insights are identified, the next task is to determine whether the associated benefit is sufficiently compelling and different. Using the classic brand positioning format will help you judge the merits of each insight, and also facilitate developing viable concepts for future research testing. The key components of the positioning that must be addressed for this next step are:

 1. Target Customer and Need (e.g. usually the Insight) – Marketers must define their ideal target segments in much greater detail, using more psychographics and emotions to understand the best “sweetspots”.

2. Competitive Framework – Examining the appeal of a concept against relevant competition will let you know whether the insight can provide a legitimate competitive edge.

3. Benefit or Promise – While the basic benefit of a brand should never change, a new insight can add a refreshing dimension to it, especially if the insight reflects today’s consumer expressions or a new experience that will ultimately enhance the brand’s relationship with its primary customers.

4. Reasons Why – Since credibility has become a major issue due to the internet, a meaningful reason to believe the benefit/promise behind the insight is essential if the resulting marketing initiative will have a reasonable chance for success.

5. Brand Personality – Using the insight to create new brand analogies or brand dimensions will help transition the core idea to worthwhile marketing action.
 Finding useful insights that are truly actionable is essential for adding value to brands and stimulating the growth for any business today. It requires smart research, supported by persistent questioning and innovative minds from a variety of experienced business professionals. For each type of insight, whether it’s for a (1) new product, (2) improved positioning, or (3) a viral marketing initiative, one must consider how the resulting customer behavior will be manifested with fresh marketing or a new advertising campaign.

In summary, the marketing team (e.g. research, agency, brand managers, R&D experts, et. al.) must first focus on those underlying attitudes that now result in certain behavior or non-behavior, in order to identify relevant insights which can lead to new usage patterns (i.e. action that goes beyond a consumer’s present accepted behavior).

For more information please contact:

Jay Gronlund
Latin Pulse USA
(212) 697-3181
Mario Quiñones
Latin Pulse
(513) 688-3032

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