Four characteristics of a good insight

As published on February 15, 2013 at Marketing Tribune. Any good marketing strategy starts from a strong consumer insight. Take a brand, e.g. J&B (Diageo). The ‘insight’ that lays at the base of innovation and communication concepts for the brand is: “In a world of day-to-day constraints and social pressure, consumers want nights out that offer the promise that the unexpected can happen”. But when do you actually have a strong insight?

1. Aha!

An insight differs from an observation in the fact that it is not immediately visible or ‘evident’, but that it only becomes clear when you are actually confronted with it. Or, as Steve Jobs described it: “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want, until you show it to them”. A strong insight is equal to a sort of ‘Aha’ experience: a combination of surprise and something familiar. It entails a view on something which was implicit all that time. To get to these ‘Aha’ moments, you need a creative and multidiscipline approach. Chiquita, for example, ‘activated’ consumers and ‘deprived’ them from their normal behaviour, in support of the launch of their smoothies. They asked consumers with a healthy lifestyle to eat less healthily, whereas consumers with a less healthy lifestyle were sent a fruit basket, with the question to eat more healthily. By taking consumers out of their comfort zone, Chiquita learned a lot of new things about the role smoothies could play on a mental and physical level.

2. It’s me

The second basic aspect of a strong consumer insight is relevance. A strong insight automatically calls for familiarity, sometimes even to the extent that you may even learn things about yourself that you were not aware of before. Try as much as possible to get as close as possible to your target group when testing the relevance of an insight. An example is how we became friends with Facebook fans of the Johnnie Walker brand; this allowed us to develop a much deeper understanding of the lifestyle and interests of the target group.

3. Tension

Behind every strong insight lies a need to improve an existing situation. In other words: it’s not just about being relevant; consumers should also feel a need to change something to an existing situation. A good example is Pampers (P&G): by focussing on the fact that babies with a healthy and dry skin feel better altogether and play, learn and develop more easily, they touch the emotions of any parent.

4. Insight ≠ idea

An insight is the start of possibly hundreds of ideas. It is a source of inspiration for branding, communication, innovation and customer experience. Madonna is a good example. For years she was at the top of the music entertainment sector. She innovated all the time, but never stepped away from one strong insight: “I want to escape the limitations of my daily routine and enjoy the activity of fantasising about alternative identities, lives or positions”. The easier you manage to come up with different ideas that start off from your insight, the stronger your insight is.
Everyone remembers the strategic marketing mistake Coca-Cola made at the launch of ‘New Coke’. Every taste testing showed that the new Coke formula was better than the familiar Coca-Cola flavour. But the Coca-Cola marketeers did not start off from a strong insight. The taste testing was based on small quantities of the soft drink, which gave a wrong idea of the taste experience. The relevance and the tension that was experienced were low: consumers were not really looking for a new Coca-Cola flavour. In the end it was not a start for a wide range of Coca-Cola marketing ideas; it was limited to flavour only.
Good luck in your search for the golden egg! And if you’re based in London, don’t forget to register for our Consumer Insightment Smartees Breakfast this Thursday.

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