The most successful businesses are built on their consumer insights.
Alekhya Chakrabarty, Marketing Manager at Nestlé conducted a meetup on 'How consumer insights are critical to marketing success'.
He discussed how we can find meaningful consumer insights to create a winning consumer experience. Sharing various examples of different products and campaigns helped us in understanding how different marketers target their audience.
In this blog, we have shared the tips he gave to collect and implement valuable consumer insights.
What is consumer insight?
Before giving you an answer let's discuss some of the most successful brands. Alekhya used the 5 Why technique to understand the root cause of what makes these brands successful.
The 5 Why is an interrogative technique used to understand the root cause of a particular problem. It is used by marketers, product managers and researchers to understand the cause and effect of the problem.
Q. What's a common link between all successful brands or firms?
A. They are bought more often by other consumers.
They are famous. Some brands connect to you better. You can relate to them.
These brands are noticed in the clutter of the overcrowded buying situations.
They have a sustainable competitive advantage.
They solve a particular consumer problem uniquely.
Because their brand offering is based on consumer insight.
The dictionary definition of insight is:
The capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something.
An insight explains the underlying behaviour, motivation, pain points and emotions of your consumers.
- the one which cannot be broken down any further
- an atomic version of consumer understanding
- the lowest common denominator of an understanding of the end consumer
To arrive at this, marketers & researchers use questionnaire tactics, for instance, the 5 Why technique. This shows whether it's an insight or mere observation.
To distinguish between insight and observation, know:
- An insight must have tension at its heart
- Which makes you say 'Yes, That's exactly how I feel' when you think about it
For example- 'If you have a body, you are an athlete'
This particular line is based on a fundamental insight. It targets all those lazy, couch potatoes who cannot relate to fit and athletic people.
Can you guess which company this is? (comment your answer below). We'll give you the answer in the later section of this blog.
To understand more about collecting meaningful insights and implementing them, here is a case of the Indian Premier League.
How did the idea of IPL emerge?
Before IPL was launched people said-
'Only SRK and cricket sell in India, but cricket is too slow'
With changing lifestyle and a shift in activities, people became less interested in a 3-hour match.
The two observations which they got from the statement above were-
- I like cricket but it is too slow and consumes a lot of my time these days
- I love watching films, just 2.5 hours of full entertainment.
By combining these observations together they came up with a new winning insight that gave birth to IPL.
💡 One reason behind cricket becoming an entertaining sport was Sundar Raman's briefing to the 2 broadcasting teams:
- To the TV broadcasting team- Make the viewers at home feel it's a perfect 3 hours entertainment with all the action replay, commentary, cheerleaders and more
- To the stadium broadcasting team- Give the best experience to the people in the stadium so they feel there's no way this would be experienced at home with DJ, activities like 'spot the best fan', cheerleaders, dancers, celebrity performances and more.
Three layers that make a winning insight
A winning insight works when it lands itself in a 3 layered structure. Everything else falls in place from there.
An insight must include the following 3 points to be called 'winning':-
- Target Audience of IPL- Indians of all age groups, who like watching cricket and films at home or outside
- Insight- I like cricket but it is too slow and consumes a lot of my time these days as compared to a 2.5-hour film
- Key points/ Proposition- IPL- the marriage of cricket and entertainment
To come up with a winning insight, first we have to understand how to get meaningful insights. ⬇️
How to get meaningful consumer insights?
There are 2 steps to find meaningful consumer insights.
- Getting observations together
- Marrying those observations
Getting Observations Together
There are 5 ways of getting observations. Not only from your consumers, observations can come from anywhere.
For example: People close to your consumers like retailers, distributors; other teams in the organisation; previous data you've collected.
First, let’s begin with how we can find insights from our consumers:
1. Nothing beats meeting the consumer in person
Human interaction is better than a survey. When you meet your consumers, you can understand their emotions, pain points, dig deeper, cross-question and make them feel they truly matter.
NOTE- If you feel in the beginning the observation is disconnecting or sounds irrelevant, listen, observe and note it down.
It's not that you will hear something from many consumers. Only a few particular observations will become an insight. Maybe 1-2 consumers will tell you something that will potentially change the fortunes of your brand.
Also, keep in mind, you will have to be patient while you talk to your consumers. It takes time and effort to get the right answers. Keep on questioning them by using questioning tactics like the 5 WHY.
2. Often go on a market visit to check the plus of the business
B2C is always a problem of plenty while B2B conversations are more quality by default.
Market visits are easier for B2B businesses as they have to focus on a few middlemen.
When you go out in the market and keep an eye on how your business is performing, how your competitors are performing you will be able to collect better insights.
- Talking to retailers and distributors will show you the reality. Have a human connection with them to understand the scenario from their point of view.
- Surveys can be considered while researching but they don't help in getting valuable insights. They are merely estimations or approximations.
Nothing can beat the hard work.
3. Seek inputs from cross-functional teams
Listening to other teams can turn out to be useful. They might show you a different perspective that you or your team was unable to see before.
After all, the best marketers are those who are the most humble listeners.
4. Explain data breaks, trends with consumers, channels and competitors
Data always tells you a lot of stories.
See the historic trends that can give you observations and learnings. Find out how consumers buy in different scenarios, eg. when macroeconomic scenarios change.
Data breaks are termed as outliers. Try to understand the reasons behind them. And try to arrive at an explanation to get an observation out of that.
Keep an eye on what is being talked about your brand on social media right now. It is more significant in the new normal. People can spread their opinions about your brand 10X faster on the internet.
“ If 10 consumers tell something bad about your brand then it's a calamity already, you have to act like yesterday and manage the crises”
If one consumer tells you something unique you need to have an eye as a marketer to pick on that and solve for that 1 %. But also keeping in mind the 99% that potentially will become your consumers going ahead.
5. Life moments- mapping against what you offer as a product/ service
The most valuable insights will be formed not by what people say ABOUT your product but AROUND your product.
Your task as a marketer is to collect all the data and observations and connect them back to the life of your end consumer.
Here's a beautiful insight from an observation:
'What I really crave as a parent is sleep' - Pampers
This insight is not in any way connected to what Pampers has to offer. But the way they market their product revolves around this insight. You know as a consumer that by making your baby wear Pampers, you and your baby will have a good night sleep.
Note- Less than 10% of consumers will tell the truth during product discussions. They want to project the best self of themselves during discussions in front of other people. Nobody wants to say stuff that makes them uncomfortable.
Every woman has a personal potential of beauty. -Dove
The tension here is- every woman has personal potential
It need not have the category context in the insight, it has to be human, also it has to have tension.
Marry the observations
When you connect observations from two disconnected worlds, they give birth to an innovative idea a.k.a a winning insight. And when you look back at the observations, they seem totally obvious.
Going back to the IPL’s case study...
We all know IPL changed the way people looked at cricket. It has become a calendar event and BCCI is fighting to make the next IPL happen.
The 2 disconnected observations (explained earlier) when got married resulted in the birth of IPL.
How consumer insights help us in winning consumer experience?
When looking for insights, we should not only focus on functional insights but emotional insights.
Understanding the emotions of your consumers will get you better enjoyment, engagement, talkability, relevance and memorability.
‘ If you don’t believe you will share the ad or creative with your friend or family, don’t think other consumers will share it.'
If you cannot sell a product to your own family members, you will never ever be able to convince any other consumer.
Talkability is a great feature to have. And one way to get it is...
Marry your product/ service insights with contextual insight.
An example of the implementation of this feature is Memes.
In the above meme we can clearly see that the little girl is nowhere related to the statement. But her expressions (little exaggerated) match exactly with the answer a confused employee would give (not really).
Another great example that shows a good usage of insight is-
The Economist is the idea of a smarter choice.
Their goal is to "take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress."
And this advertisement explains it all. It was a result of valuable insights collected over the years.
As a marketer, you can start digging deeper and decoding other ads to understand what the brand was thinking when it was creating it. You will understand a lot about marketing and your competitors' strategy if you start doing this.
Some more examples of great marketing tactics created by valuable insights.
In Sydney, bathing stations were turned into Sprite dispensing units.
What went through the marketing team's mind while creating this? How did they come up with this idea?
Did a shower maker contact them for collaboration? Or did one of the team members watch 'Honey I shrunk the Kids' and imagined this?
Start activating your brain cells and comment your thoughts below!
Jumping onto the next ad which is bold and at the same time pretty witty.
Burger King collaborated with the horror movie IT and came up with this ad. ⬆️
They didn't call out names. But we all know whom they were referring to.
Hershey’s ice breaker #mintbeforeyourmask
This last example has been by far one of the most impressive ads since the pandemic has changed a lot of things.
Mint was usually needed when you were around people. But because of social distancing and less physical interaction the sale of mints decreased.
We all know mask breath is real. This ad showed why you still need mints in these times, not for social interactions but for yourself. 💡
A note for B2B brands:
- Build listening centres (online/ offline) where you can talk to your consumers and have a deeper conversation
- Start a consumer advisory board that will provide critical macro insights
- Stay in touch with your first level consumers. They are your gatekeepers and first observers. Their insights will become actionable in future
- Unify marketing, sales and loyalty functions to dig deeper by applying the 5 Why tactic
What have we learnt?
Remember, insights are key not just for marketing but for the business.
Some examples of great taglines inspired by insights:
- 'You are not you when you are hungry'
Can you guess this brand? (comment below)
This tagline doesn't say anything about the product or its features. It talks about tension (hunger) and gives a solution (the product).
2. 'Real beauty, real women'
Here again, there is no mention of the product or its features. They are simply talking about the personal potential of women's beauty and how they can achieve it by the product.
Taglines are communication ideas, they are not insights. Insights are not just things from which ads or communication is made.
Consumer insights should be shown everywhere. From the pitch you create to your potential B2B channel partner, new product development or a new film about your brand.
A great brand is built on insights through extreme hard work.
Think of collecting consumer insights as a journey, not a task.
Be on a journey to keep on perfecting the consumer insights so you challenge your own knowledge on the brand to keep on solving the tension that you identified in the consumer’s mind.
Oh, and the brand we were talking about in the beginning of the blog was Nike!
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