The Best Insight Wins

Whether your brand is just starting out and you need to scale its appeal, or it’s an older brand that needs to rebuild relevancy, it all starts with an insight that connects consumers to your brand at both a deeply human level and a useful “add value to their lives today” level. This article will provide practical tips for how to get insights that can drive your brand to new levels of success.

Across a range of brands, we have used a variety of techniques to dig for insights, qual/quant, cultural anthropologists, in-homes and sushi. Yes, sushi, as in bring in food and have a wide-ranging discussion with a diverse group of people who are really good at listening and building on what each other is thinking and expressing. We have had success and failure with each, so I don’t think there is a magic technique that works for all situations or teams. In our experience, success is most highly correlated with the following four aspects of how to approach insight development.

1. Know the problem that needs solving

Getting great insight requires digging in the right places. For Cape Cod Chips, we knew that there were three rich and distinctly different territories that needed exploration, and we knew where we intended to source business. A simple quant study selected the territory, and a mobile ethnography with some clever stimuli gave us the ah-ha.

2. Start in close, but don’t stay there for long

Many older brands are updating their ingredients to fit with the demands of today’s consumers, but for most of these brands, it’s not just their ingredients that are out of date. Mining social listening was the secret to taking Back to Nature from just another non-GMO snack option to a brand that helps people on their path to happier lives with a decidedly new brand attitude and voice.

3. It’s all about the team

To me this is the most important ingredient. You need a team that trusts each other at the deepest level, that can finish each other’s sentences, that genuinely likes each other and appreciates each other’s sense of humor and ironic view of the world. PANDORA Jewelry would not be the brand it is today without the deep insight into the male love of sports, tapping into their deep desire to do the right thing at gift-giving time, but utter incompetence to do it. Thank you to Mel Kiper, ESPN, and the NFL first-round draft picks for being the perfect foil for turning insights into sales.

4. There is no end

The other reason that the team is so important is that the search for insights is unending, and you need as many people as possible finding inspiration in lots of out-of-the-way places in order to have the steady stream of both BIG and little ideas that are needed to fuel today’s brand engagements. Whether it was a creative director listening to golf hacks from Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar and Bryson Dechambeau over dinner, or a junior account person overhearing trash-talking foursomes on the weekends, Bridgestone Golf wouldn’t currently have the world watching their ball if it weren’t for these team members’ 24/7 dedication to insight mining.

Dan Collins

SVP, Chief Strategy Officer

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