Insight -a Definition

Where do insights come from? Insights are based on the analysis and interpretation of information. Information can come from primary or secondary research into the consumer, brand, category or competition.

To get to an insight, start with an observation derived from one of the four areas above. Something like “many men like spicy food” or “red cars get more speeding tickets than cars of other colors.” Observations are easy to come by. I bet you could think of 100 right now. To turn observations into insights look beyond the observation and ask, “Why is this?” Why do many men like spicy food? Why do red cars get more speeding tickets? The key is to find the root cause. Many times the answer is found by decoding and understanding human nature.

Why do many men like spicy food? Because it’s an area of competition and esteem, withstanding the intensity of spicy food is a sign of toughness.

Why do red cars get more speeding tickets? Because, like the flames of a fire, red objects appear to move quicker and be more dangerous than objects of another color.

Good marketing is based on insight and the strategy that leverages it; essentially this is what Planners bring to the table in their work. Here is an example from a famous campaign.

Why do people litter? Because when keeping the environment clean is everyone’s responsibility, there is no motivation for any one person to act. Leveraging this consumer insight, GSD&M created the “Don’t Mess with Texas” campaign that positioned littering as a personal slight to every Texan with state pride.

Next time you are looking for insight, remember that an insight is simply an observation waiting to be decoded. Seek to understand the why behind the action.

  1. While the Don’t Mess With Texas campaign is enjoyable enough to watch, I wonder if the insight that drives it falls just a little short. Would be curious to know if the campaign has any real impact on littering habits… Either positive or negative. Perhaps a deeper insight is that people who litter really don’t feel like the ground they are littering on is theirs… In other words, would they do the same thing if it was their own front yard? That insight might lead to a much more effective campaign…

  2. Bob Mason

    According to theit data, they seem to believe it achieved their objectives, Todd.

    • Thanks for that link Bob, I hadn’t seen that site before.

      Todd- this story points out that the copywriter who came up with the campaign noticed litter abounded in his own neighborhood even though logic assumes home owners would be compelled to clean up their own street. Trash on highways declined 29% in the first year of the campaign.

  3. Benjamin Kepner

    Hey Thom, great post here! Good marketing for insights also includes meeting with professionals in the industry to gather insights too. You can observe, but without meeting and gathering the knowledge from professionals, one can not truly understand how to penetrate a market. Learning from people that have been in an industry for years has been the best way to gather insights in my experience as opposed to online research.

    • I agree that industry experts are a great way to get up-to-speed on an industry or trend. It is a nice way to jump-start your research. However, it takes a deluge of research and experiences to feed the mind and extrapolate a meaningful connection/nugget/observation that you can then decode and get to a meaningful insight.