Researchers, strategists, planners and marketers alike all band around the term ‘insight’, but break into a discussion in an attempt to define what a true insight is and all heavens will open.
It promises depth, detail, eureka moments, but all too often the insight that is delivered is little more than a new observation or a validation of what we already know, or worse still, a finding at the end of a process.
At Further we define a true insight as being a revelatory breakthrough in your understanding of people, their lives and relationships that signals a new way to create value for them.
We describe it as 'revelatory' and ‘breakthrough’ because we view anything less than that as a mere observation. But be warned, revelations don’t just happen, nor do they appear on a regular basis without going through a few pain barriers.
So how do you know when you’ve hit bullseye and got a true insight?
What you come up with will be surprising for those involved, but it will be painfully obvious as well. Their reaction tends to be a deep sigh, a lean back, and the words ‘of course, I knew it!’. You know you are there when it makes sense and fits within the framework of what you already know and understand about people and their behaviour.
Most marketers and professionals have been operating in their category for many years, resulting in them often being blinded by their own knowledge. It’s this blindness that triggers the freshness of the insight.
A golden example of this that we often reference is Pampers.
Everyone “knew" that parents wanted leak-free nappies and as a result much of the product development and communication centred on it. Focus groups confirmed this insight.
But when Pampers ran some ethnography, there was a revelation. What was most important to parents in their home was sleep. No one can live without it and a wet nappy was what prevented it, for both the baby and the parents. Pampers got 'innovating' and came up with nappies that had extra "dry layers" for sleep time. Their brand strategy shifted to focus on enabling parents and children to achieve "Golden sleep”.
For brands to stay ahead of the game they need to act fast, make changes and innovate. The insight will be revealed to competitors soon enough, be it through communication or their own research, so nimbleness and action is key. For brands that aren't nimble or for those unwilling to adapt to consumer change, there's some salutary lessons to learn. Inconvenient insights are no less valid, how you handle them is key.
Don’t just strive for new findings or observations, push hard for true insight using the right blend of skills and technology, humans and machines. You won’t be disappointed.
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