What do you get when you cross a creative thinker with someone who loves to learn and ask questions? It’s likely a candidate for Consumer Insights.
At Lawrence & Schiller, we talk frequently with our clients, new contacts and those in the marketing community about how critical consumer insights is to our process. But what exactly is insights? Is it research? Is it marketing? Is it competitive intel? The simplest answer – yes to all of these. Let me explain…
Seven years ago, L&S took steps to grow its insights and strategy expertise by nurturing the creation of insights, trend analysis and competitive intelligence across all of our industry verticals. Since then, Consumer Insights (or CI) has become a critical part of audience identification, customer experience, campaign strategy, product positioning, media strategy, campaign analysis and optimization.
While our teams couldn’t function without CI (their words, not mine), what does that really mean? If you’re asking this question – you’re not the first. There have been a few times where we’ve received quizzical looks.
So, to clear things up, here’s your unequivocal guide to the L&S Consumer Insights discipline:
What is an insight
“Insights” as a term has taken on a life of its own in the marketing industry. It’s become the holy grail everyone is looking for, but aren’t sure where to start. For the CI team at L&S, it’s not about focusing on a set of processes or steps to find the insight – it’s knowing when you have one and when you don’t.
L&S defines an insight as a consumer belief, value or behavior that identifies a new opportunity to engage with and reach consumers.
It must be emotional, and it must involve the audience. If it doesn’t, it may be an interesting part of the strategy, but it’s not necessarily an insight. If this seems like a big ask for an insight – that it must be new, creative, emotional and audience-specific – it is. An insight has to truly uncover new opportunities and be relevant to the audience you’re trying to reach.
Insights can come in all shapes and sizes. While the Consumer Insights team leads finding insights at L&S, insights often come from the collaboration between CI and creative, or CI and account service, or CI and paid placement. Collaboration between different specialties sheds new light on information we have about the brand, industry and audience – getting us that much closer to uncovering an insight.
An Insight Is Not Research
Insights are not the same as marketing research or marketing intel. Research may be how we gather information or interact with consumers to learn more, and intel may give us information about what’s happening in the industry environment.
But insights go beyond the ‘what’. They’re the ‘why’ and the ‘how’. Insights address why the audience is responding/acting/thinking the way they are, help define why the situation is the way it is, and how either of these will impact our strategy.
While we sometimes use research methods in CI, we’re also frequently using less common, non-traditional information-gathering methods like anthropology, consumer conversations and more to understand what it’s like to be our audience and ultimately connect with them. Research may be the means, but is certainly not the ends.
Just as fire can’t come from raw materials like wood, neither can an insight or strategy come from research without the spark of creativity and the ‘why’. Insights translate information into stories.
Why Insights Matter
Turning information into stories and finding great insights is at the heart of sparking inspiration and new ideas for creative strategy.
It can be difficult for marketing teams to develop creative ideas that also address a clear-cut business goal. Insights clarify the information, organize the opportunities and identify the best approach or strategy to guide the team to a creative solution that also meets business objectives.
No matter how detailed, data-intensive or diverse the information our CI team has, our job is to simplify the complex and bring clarity to the confusion.
Finding these roads – the ones not yet taken by other brands or for our audience – is the way we keep our clients competitive and, more importantly, relevant to their customers.