There is a mystique surrounding “consumer insights” that benefits a few but that is overall unhealthy for the industry. So one of my aims is to help demystify the community’s understanding of “insights”. In fact, I typically describe an insight as “a moment of enlightenment when one sees something with a new understanding” that leads to new brand or business-building opportunities.
I also believe that “generating insights” can be learned and a skill that can be honed. In fact, insights don’t just fall off trees, even though that’s what some “marketing ninjas” or “business mavericks” want you to believe. Instead, they are typically the outcome of a rigorous process that can be learned.
8 Immutable Truths About Insights!
So, in this article, I focus on 8 immutable truths about insights, based on 25 years of experience digging for insights across categories and around the world:
1. Insights are generally understood as “consumer insights,” but the fact is that there are many different kinds of insights that can unlock a business opportunity. BMW films, for example, are based on a media insight.
2. An insight is only an insight when it feels fresh (new) and when it triggers an emotional reaction (the Aha moment). Else, it is merely an interesting observation or a fun fact.
3. The primary purpose of an insight is to create new brand, communication, and business opportunities, i.e. an insight needs to open new perspectives and be actionable. Else, it isn’t an insight.
4. Insights don’t just fall off trees or into your lap when reading a research report or listening to a focus group, for example. They are generally the outcome of a systematic process where the quality of the process determines the quality of the insight.
5. The best insights emerge from applying specific mental frameworks (on how people, communication, brands, and businesses work) to information and data. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-fits-all framework, except maybe for the “why? laddering” exercise.
6. There is a huge gap between the type of information market researchers (or consumer insight groups within organizations) seek (rich details, texture, etc. summarized in 60-page research summaries) and the type of information brand people and business leaders want (holistic, contextual and action-oriented). The ability to turn information and data into insights is the best way to bridge this gap and align both groups.
7. Organizations can generate genuine business-building insights when the research methodologies are tailored around the ingoing hypotheses rather than the other way around. Unfortunately, most market research groups still work and start the insight generation process with a prescribed and predetermined set of methodologies (all too often focus groups). The best point in case is the insight behind the “Got Milk” campaign, which was only uncovered because the methodology was tailored to the team’s evolving questioning.
8. How an insight is expressed is as important as the insight itself. A great insight expressed in cumbersome and boring business or marketing language will be less powerful than an insight expressed in an easy-to-remember and catchy way (making it easier to socialize and share) that energizes and excites (remember it is about unleashing and creating excitement for new business opportunities)
Interested in insights and how to generate them? Then the Aha! The Indispensable Insight Generation Toolkit might be for you. Available as a set of method cards in the US and as an Amazon Kindle document outside the US. Interested in training your team in the craft of insight generation via an in-person training workshop? Then, reach out to me directly.
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Interested in insights and how to generate them instead? Then the Aha! The Indispensable Insight Generation Toolkit might be for you. Available as a set of method cards in the US and as a Kindle document outside the US.
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