Monday, 28 April 2014

Consumer Insights: Breaking the myth

Marketing is about managing consumer’s expectations and perceptions. Hence genuine consumer understanding is the first prerequisite for superior marketing. As markets become more crowded, the marketer with superior insight into the consumers’ latent needs, wants, desires and beliefs gains a critical source of competitive advantage. Deeper understanding of consumer’s deeper and unrevealed attitude and behaviours is consumer insights.

Customer Insight represents a deep understanding of customer needs and the drivers at a level well beyond what customers are able to articulate on their own.  Customer Insight leads to opportunities for creating solutions that are tightly linked to the core drivers of human needs and behaviour. It is a "bottom-up" approach that leverages insights into the behaviors, perceptions and needs of current and potential customers by involving them as true partners in the innovation process.

Myth 1: “I know the consumer – she is like a known one to me”
Successful entrepreneurs and marketing professionals believe that they know what ‘consumers want’ and hence are sceptical of all formal consumer research. But real market is beyond the family and people we know. The living conditions and product usage contexts of a household cannot be generalized for larger markets. That is why the first step to get powerful insights lies in observing the real consumers and brand in real life conditions.

Myth 2: “What consumer speak is consumer insight...because that is what they want”
One school of thought believes that any expression of consumer need, desire or belief is valid only if it is voiced by the consumer and hence must be written in consumer-speak. Thus, all insight statements must be of the form, “I wish...”
This is a myth because it is based on the false premise that people know what they want and why they do what they do. People are famously inconsistent – they think one thing, say another and go and do something else entirely. Hence powerful insights can only be intuited by an observer and is aided by good questioning.

Myth 3: “Research does not disclose this, it isn't an insight”
Best of testing methods cannot uncover insights. Insatiable curiosity to get under the skin of the consumer is more helpful than fancy techniques.

Myth 4: “Gaining insight into consumers’ needs and desires is like getting an idea – it’s all about inspiration”
This is a myth because there are methods for discovering insights and many companies develop their own methods and don’t just sit waiting for inspiration. Insights are about re-perceiving the familiar while ideas are about re-connecting known elements in fresh ways.

Ways to discover consumer insights:  
(a) observing consumers in their real lives and usage situations.
(b) exercising empathy to walk in their shoes and
(c) intuiting reasons for their choices and actions from multiple perspectives.
Insighting is also done at the product design and positioning stages. The insight process at product development stage is more of a need-gap analysis. It gives idea of how to change/modify the product. For example, the insight that ‘Indians have a serious complex about the colour of their skin’ has been used by brands like Fair & Lovely for product development.

When developing and launching a new brand, marketer needs consumer insight to get the market positioning and communication right. The consumer insight needed to develop a new brand is all about what target consumers are saying and thinking, and what truly matters to them. A good insight is a great guide to brand’s success in the marketplace.

EXAMPLES
 Volkswagen Beetle
Volkswagen told America to "Think Small". But their insight wasn't small at all. It wasn't just the need for a smaller car - there was a sizable group of people who wanted to be different and didn't express themselves based on the size of their car. 

A version of this same insight - appealing to individuality against all odds - is Apple's "Think Different" campaign.
Pampers
The brand re-positioned itself quite significantly over the years. Back then, the brand appealed to the fear of parents being crap and letting their baby get wet. It worked well, but was a bit preachy.
The new insight that was the motivation behind highly successful re-launch came from talking about child behaviour. Parents explained that by being dry and getting a good night's sleep babies were better able to play, and that this in turn was key to their development. This lead to an insight of: 'Babies with healthy, dry skin are happier....and so better able to play, learn and develop'. The finding that babies are happier when they have healthy skin rather than nappy rash was not that new. The trick was uncovering the deeper emotional significance.

The brand's idea is now around "Being with you every step of the way with your baby's development". This brand idea has inspired a range of innovation including Active Fit diapers for young babies on the move, and Kandoo moist toilet tissues kids can use themselves. 

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