Marketing depends upon actionable insights to satisfy and delight their customers. How comfortable are you with your own process and the actionability of the results?
Insights are the holy grail that all businesses seek but rarely find. Are you one of them? If so then I have some tips on how you can get better at developing more actionable insights.
#1. Insights take more than a single piece of market research
Does your management think that insight is “just another word for market research”? I remember one CEO with whom I had the privilege of working, saying exactly that to me. This was just before he stepped onto the stage to address the global marketing and market research teams at our annual conference! I’m sure you can imagine what a panic I was in as he walked up to the mike!
Insights are challenging to develop and rarely, if ever, developed from a single piece of market research. Each market research project is designed to gather information about a particular topic. Whilst it may enable a business to answer the questions it has, insight development is quite a different process. (>>Tweet this<<)
Insight development involves integrating, analysing and synthesising all the information you have about a category, segment or brand user. You then need to summarise all of this into knowledge and understanding, from which you develop the insight.
Single pieces of market research deliver information, not insights. It is therefore rarely successful to try to develop insight from one survey alone.
#2. All brands should have a Big Idea based on (at least) one insight
A Big Idea is a term often used today to describe a brand, product, or concept. The term is prevalent in advertising and is commonly used today to describe something unique that the brand wants to stand for. A big idea is big because it resonates with its target customers. It is a short description on which its communications and customer engagement are based. (>>Tweet this<<)
This is why insights are so important, as they are at the very foundation of the big ideas of all successful brands. For example:
- Staples: “Low prices are secondary to a quick and efficient shopping experience for business customers.” This was turned into a new tagline “That was easy”. Staples then created the red plastic Easy Button and have sold millions of them at $4.99 each, the proceeds of which go to charity.
- Mastercard: “Life isn’t about what you buy, but about the relationships you have with the people you care about and the special moments that you can share with them”. Most credit cards advertise their exclusivity, status and the accumulation of tangible assets that are bought with their card. This insight positions Mastercard as more of an enabler of the more important and intangible things in life.
- Pampers: “Babies with healthy, dry skin are happier….and so better able to play, learn and develop”. The idea that babies are happier when they have healthy skin rather than nappy rash is not new. What P&G managed to do was to turn this into an emotional benefit which has inspired both innovation and advertising ever since.
Developing a powerful insight makes all brand decision-making much easier. If your plans reflect the insight, then move forward. If however, they communicate something different then you need to consider whether to revisit the original insight or the actions you are planning. Consistency is one essential element of brand success.
#3. Insights are developed from a desired behavioural change
Sales, marketing and management look to grow a category, segment or brand by changing customers’ behaviours. For example:
- From buying a competitive brand to purchasing yours
- From using your services once a month, to once a week
- Moving customers’ belief about your brand from a traditional to a more modern image
- Changing customers’ perceptions about your value from expensive to good value for money
Because insight development is based on a desired behavioural change, the most successful contain an emotional element. The emotion shown in an advertisement is more likely to resonate with customers, who are then motivated to take the identified action. The above Pampers video is a good example of this.
#4. Insight development needs more than insight specialists
Although this may sound counter-productive, insight development really does benefit from gathering input from different experts with differing perspectives. Getting to that “ah-ha” moment that is often referred to, takes time and energy, and is best delivered by a team than an individual.
A deep understanding of customers and their reasons for behaving in a certain way comes from looking at all aspects of their lifestyle. If you only review the actual moment when they choose or use a product or service, it is highly unlikely that you will develop that deep understanding. What happens before and afterwards also lead to their purchase decision and eventual loyalty.
This is why it is important to work as a team when developing insights. (>>Tweet this<<) Depending upon the issue or opportunity identified, the team can consist of people from marketing, sales, trade marketing, production, packaging, advertising, innovation, distribution or R&D. These people don’t even need to work on the category in question;
The people who make up the team don’t even have to work on the category in question. Sometimes it is by taking ideas from different categories that true insights can be developed. (>>Tweet this<<) See the next section for examples of this.
#5. Insights are usually based on a human truth
The insights that resonate best with people are those based upon a human truth. A human truth is a statement that refers to human beings, irrespective of race, colour or creed. It is a powerful and compelling fact of attitudes and behaviour that is rooted in fundamental human values. It is a fact that is obvious when quoted but is often ignored or forgotten in daily business. Human truths are linked to human needs and although questioned in some circles today,
Human truths are linked to human needs and although questioned in some circles today, Maslow’s hierarchy is still one of the most relevant sources. Examples of human truths include:
- Parents want to protect their children.
- Men and women want to find love.
- Children (people?) want to be better than their peers.
The other reason that human truths work well as the foundation of an insight is because they provoke emotions and strong feelings in people. If you are struggling to find an insight, it can help to review the level of need of your target audience and see how your brand can use emotions to help answer it.
#6. Insights aren’t always category specific
Following on from the above points, it is particularly interesting that once found, an insight can be adapted and used for a different category. (>>Tweet this<<) There are many examples of this happening, particularly amongst major FMCG / CPG companies. For example:
Insight: “Parents want to protect their children so that they grow up happy and healthy”.
- Unilever’s Omo: shows that a good mother lets her child experiment and learn – even if this means getting dirty. If you don’t know their advertising, then check out one of their latest from this long-running campaign: Unilever Omo “Dirt is Good” ad on YouTube
- Nestlé’s Nido: illustrates this need as a mother providing the nourishment for healthy growth which allows her children to explore the outside world safely. If you would like to see a typical advertisement, check it out on YouTube hHERE. Interestingly, Nestlé has used this same insight to develop advertising for its bottled water in Asia and pet food in the Americas too.
Insight: “Young women want to be appreciated for who they are, ie not models”.
- Unilever’s Dove was the first brand to recognise and benefit from this insight. Their famous Real Beauty campaign resonated so well with young women that many other brands copied it, especially their Evolution film. HERE is one of their more recent ads that I’m sure will give you goosebumps.
- The Swiss Supermarket chain Migros has a store brand “I am” which uses the same insight across all the health and beauty products. Somewhat unusually, the brand name itself is based on the same insight, and its advertising repeats it several times: “I am – what I am“.
So there you have six tips that will certainly help you to develop better, more actionable insights. I hope these tips inspire you to revisit your own process for creating insights. Do share any other ideas that you have found useful in developing insight in your own organisation; I would love to hear from you.
If however you believe that you could benefit from a review of your own process which may need updating or tweaking, then please contact me. C³Centricity offers 1-Day Catalyst sessions on both “Information to Insights” and “Insights to Impact”. Find out more and download the one-page descriptions HERE.
This post shows one image from Winning Customer Centricity and is an updated version of an article which first appeared here in 2013.