market research

What Are Consumer Insights?

Whether we’re working with well-established companies to transform their marketing or helping new companies build their brands from the ground up, consumer insights go a long way to inform the work that we do. To give you a better understanding of what exactly consumer insights is and what it does, Mustard & Moxie founder Anna Boudinot sat down with James Sheehy, a consumer insights expert who has worked in brand strategy and consumer insights for nearly 20 years.

Anna: How would you define consumer insights?

James: Despite the large amount of consumer data out there, brands still frequently fail to connect deeply with their consumers. Consumer insights goes beyond generating consumer data: it is the practice of generating consumer data and then synthesizing and distilling it into simple and true stories that connect more deeply with consumers and improve a brand’s strategic marketing activities such as innovation, product marketing, and communications.

But consumer insights is also more than mere data. Consumer researchers talk to and survey consumers to uncover their truths, and to discover what we call “true insights.”

Anna: Tell us more about true insights.

James: Strategic marketers distinguish “true insight” from data and consumer truths. For example, it is “true” that consumers drink kombucha as a substitute for soda because they are seeking probiotic health benefits. And data analysis tells us that the category is overdeveloped in “blue state” metros and natural grocers. And these facts are definitely helpful to strategic development. But a true insight is an epiphany, which when uncovered, amplifies our emotional understanding of the consumer and turbocharges marketing activity. A true insight is initially hidden, but once revealed, seems blindingly obvious.

Anna: I love those epiphany moments in marketing! Can you give us an example of a true insight?

James: Sticking to the kombucha example, it turns out that core kombucha consumers believe kombucha is “alive” due to the billions of probiotic cultures in it and because it has an Eastern origin story. This kind of insight can directly drive brand activities such as core brand strategy, innovation, product marketing, and communications. One kombucha brand developed its brand positioning, “Alive Like You,” based on this very insight.

Anna: Share with us the differences between shopper insights and consumer insights.

James: Well, they are related, because consumers are also shoppers. But really they are two separate disciplines. Think of the consumer as someone with attitudes and behaviors that connect to brand performance metrics like awareness, preference, and consumption. But think of the shopper as someone in a retail environment who is navigating aisles, comparing products, perhaps has a coupon, or is responding to a price promotion, and is ready to make a purchase. So while the consumer and the shopper can literally be the same person, we focus on different aspects of their feelings, thoughts and behaviors. And, by the way, sometimes the consumer is not the shopper, as when a parent buys a video game console for his child.

Working together, these two disciplines can improve the entire customer journey, from brand awareness to post-purchase.

Need Consumer Insights?

If you’re ready to employ consumer insights to help meet your strategic marketing initiatives, Mustard & Moxie is ready to support you. Our consumer insights team can conduct and then implement research to develop brand strategy, brand positioning, brand architecture, package design, communications, innovation strategy and execution, and/or product marketing. Contact us today.

Photo credit: Tyler Nix via Unsplash