Insight Development: a Practical How-To
On my journey into becoming a brand and innovation consultant, I had to work extremely hard to turn my raw empathy skills into a tool that would help me develop a useful outcome: the consumer insight. Just as important has been learning how to cultivate this insight in a way that is explainable to my clients and allows them to leverage the insight in a useful way. In this post, I’ll be exploring my thoughts on the concept and how I turn it into a something valuable for my clients.
What is a consumer insight?
I’ve come to think of it as the discovered knowledge about consumers’ desires and dilemmas, which builds a brand connection, delivers on both functional and emotional dimensions, and triggers cognitive empathy. You can see how in an era of design thinking and creation of innovative and useful user experiences, this information has gained in prominence, especially in a market where technology has exponentially increased potential brand touch points. A consumer insight has 3 components:
- The first part is the actual consumer belief. How a consumer thinks or feels about something. It’s usually general in nature. As an example, let’s imagine a business traveler that takes frequent trips abroad. This consumer may think to herself: “Whenever I take a trip outside the country, it is very expensive to keep in touch with my family.”
- The second component is the driver. The consumer identifies a specific cause of their feeling or belief. To continue our example, the consumer may continue her train of thought by thinking: “As a matter of fact, the roaming costs, and the hotel telephone rates are what make it very expensive.”
- Finally, the consumer comes to an end-state. The consumer channels their thoughts and feelings into a dilemma or desire. Our hypothetical traveler may desire that there was a more cost effective way to talk with her family.
Writing an insight- Do’s and Don’ts
The key in using our newly uncovered insight is to balance the functional and emotional components. Stay consistent across all of the insight components. The natural mistake may be to focus too much on the end-state, which could prompt a solution that misses the opportunity to connect with the consumer. When thinking about the end-state, ask yourself if it’s a desire or a dilemma. When framing your insight into words, choose your words carefully. You are explaining something very qualitatively, and it is important to use nuance to distill these complex elements into something clear and easy to understand. I am not embarrassed to tell you that I read each one out loud to hear it and make sure it makes sense.
The ability to utilize your own empathy in understanding the consumer while remaining objective and keeping your own thoughts and feelings separate is as important as it is difficult to master. But you cannot take your insight personally. Distance yourself from the consumer. Simple is profound. Don’t overload a single insight by condensing many insights into one. While framing your insight don’t go negative, frame your insight in a way that can be acted on positively. Finally, don’t confuse technological advancement with an actual insights driven-innovation. Just because the customer thinks its cool does not mean they want it.
A final recommendation: Validate your findings!
As an innovator, validating ideas through prototyping should already be a part of your arsenal. This extra step ensures a resonance with consumers, and can help you refine your conclusions and prove them to your clients. Besides, workshops are fun.