Monday, December 27, 2010

Finding That Consumer Insight

k3390536An insight is a statement of a consumer’s beliefs and unmet needs that reveals the true reason why he or she will behave a certain way if offered the correct solution. Finding a real insight is not easy, as consumers won’t always share their true beliefs.  Having a powerful insight that applies to a large population provides a brand the clarity it needs to tailor solutions that will entice the consumer to purchase. A strong consumer insight will light a path that guides all brand activities. It is worth investing the time to get it right.
How are insights found?  The process requires some dedicated effort and is not always predictable.  Here is a simplified approach:
First do your homework
1. Find your product’s likely consumer target.  What part of the current category users are really most likely to want to use your idea?  For a new idea, this answer is takes both quantitative research and data to determine.   Try to categorize consumers based on broad attitudinal needs as well as demographics.   Know their life-stage, what they tend to do, with whom, and where is it that they tend to come in man with question markcontact with your products.
2. Develop a deeper understanding of them by observing what they do (rather than what they say) around usage of your category.  Go to their house and watch them use your products, go shopping with them and watch them purchase your category. This type of ethnographic research provides more context than sitting in a focus group with them. 
3. Probe into why it is they do what you observe.  This is the most simple, but important part. Remember that what they say will be only the rational part of the story. Use of projective techniques, like storytelling, will reveal more about the emotional drivers of a consumer’s decision.
The Progressive “Whys”
Work in a small team to take the learning and observations and process them through a filter thinkingof what I call the “5 Whys”.  Simply put, take an observation, and ask the group why the consumer did that.  Take that answer and ask of it again “why”.  You will eventually come to a realization that the behavior is rooted in a deeper place than what was simply heard or observed.  Keep checking each progressive answer for consistency with observed behavior or you will go down the wrong path.  Usually more ideas are created with a few people than by oneself.
For example – lets use the example of denim jeans and men.  I’ll pick Levis.  We could observe that men who wear Levis like rugged jeans and their classic American look.  They wear them for most any occasion and swear by the brand.  Why? – because they feel comfortable.  Why? because it is part of their look. Why? because they reject designer jeans. Why? because they are not for real guys like them. Why? because they reject fashion (rebelliousness), they don’t like change (conservative), they do things their way and that makes themselves authentic.  Solution – Jeans that will never let real guys, like them, down.  Same as always – authentic, hardworking. 
This allows Levis to stay focused on a specific look, a specific cut and style and remain true to this over time.  Designer and contemporary cuts may really take a bite out of the Levis look but you will still find it very difficult to find a slim cut or an urban style from Levis, (maybe, online) which may hurt them in the near term as core target of baby boomers age.  The imagery remains true to values of hardworking guys that look good, a rebellious attitude but don’t overthink their look. Authentic Americana stays solely owned by Levis.  
(BTW, if you go to Europe those same Levis are urban fashion, but that’s another story)
So, while it isn’t always easy to get a consumer insight, the right one can provide a crystal clear path in which you can create a unique brand to surprise and delight the consumer.

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