Insights makes a difference

Owl on a branch - symbolic of wisdom

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We think of all the skills you should have in your repertoire in marketing, being able to understand and use market research and ‘insights’ is vital. It is the skill which determines if you are destined to be a success or not in the world of marketing.

When we started in marketing, this area of expertise was always just called “market research”. We can’t recall when ‘insights’ became the more normal thing to call it. But now nobody in marketing would call it anything else. It was probably some clever agency guy who started calling it that. We tried looking it up. There’s a good, if long, perspective on the different eras of market research and insights in this article here. Though we must confess to reading only the first two or three paragraphs and then skipping to the end for the conclusion. Ironically something which we’ve found ourselves doing in many a market research project report / debrief.

The process of understanding who your target audience is and what are their needs, wants and behaviours is a basic marketing requirement. How do you get into consumer’s underlying psyche to motivate, inspire and engage them to do something that they don’t currently do? Namely buy (or buy into) the product, service or belief that you are trying to market. This is really the heart and soul of what marketing stands for.

So, now that we are two or three paragraphs in, we will skip to the conclusion about insights. Not by walking through the best methodology, but picking two examples, one good, one not so good to show the impact good insights can make on the outcome of marketing activation.

Good use of insights

One of the better research agencies we’ve worked with in this space used to run annual ‘insights training’ for the marketing team. Their favourite case study was The Australian Road and Transport Authority’s Pinkie campaign from the mid 2000s.  

They didn’t work on the campaign itself (and nor did we) but their view was it was a great example of how really understanding what makes your target audience tick can unlock a complete change in behaviour. In this case, the objective was to reduce the amount of speeding in young men 17 – 24. The great insight is that guys in this age range typically lack awareness of what other’s think of them. They think that ‘fast driving’ somehow makes them cooler, more manly and more attractive to the opposite sex. All things that are patently untrue.

So using, the simple insight of showing what other’s really think of reckless and dangerous driving, the ad created huge impact. The link shares some of the campaign effectiveness measures. But what it doesn’t share, that the agency shared with us, is that the number of youth fatalities from reckless driving which had been on the increase (2005 – 45; 2006  – 51; 2007 – 64) fell back when the campaign started running, dropping to 35 in 2008 and 37 in 2009. Insights that saves lives, pretty powerful stuff.

No use of insights

So we compare that to this randomly selected example advert below. The ad for Mitsubishi Electrical air-conditioning units dates from 2014 but they are still running pretty much the same concept of the ad today. Look at our product. Here’s some nice people enjoying our product. We’d like to give you a list of features and benefits (energy efficiency, 19db noise level, is that good?, a filter system, er what?) that might make you want to buy our products.

However, we look at this type of advertising and wonder what is the insight that is sitting behind this? What if they’d played on the insights that cold air makes you instantly feel better when you live in a hot country. Where for about 9 months of the year, the outside temperature starts at ‘sauna’ like levels, progresses up to ‘hot oven’ and at times, gets to ‘inferno’.

Australian’s really like to spend time outdoors. But for those 9 months, the ‘outdoors’ is hot, sticky, uncomfortable. You feel like a drained sweaty mess if you spend too much time outdoors. What about that moment, when you get inside and turn the air conditioner on? You get hit with that blast of cool, instantly temperature reducing air? If Mitsubishi really got the insight of it’s consumers, isn’t that what would grab your attention about air conditioning? We are sure the original advert gained them some minor equity scores like awareness and consideration. It probably generated a few extra sales. But really, it’s such a forgettably bland piece of marketing activity and so lacking in insight. Sighs wearily.

Insights make a difference

There are plenty of other categories like this. Cars, insurance, financial services to name just a few. We only picked the air conditioning example because it stuck out as so middle of the road. But really understanding market research and insights and building them into your marketing activation makes the job of marketing so much easier. We’d recommend smartening up on it if it’s not in your marketing repertoire already. Insights make a difference. They can make the difference between seeing the wood or the trees.

Forest - Trees - Question mark
Insights can help you see the wood AND the trees

Photo credit

Question Mark on Tree : Photo by Evan Dennis on Unsplash

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