Posts Tagged ‘branding’

Are you using real insights in your decision-making?

September 18, 2019

As a brand and marketing insight strategist I hear the word “Insight” being bandied about to the point where it has become one of the most overused – and alas – misunderstood words in marketing today. However, “insights” have never been more important to businesses and marketeers than ever before, in order to unlock new or real growth in ever competitive environments. As such, companies are demanding that “insights” be placed at the heart of decision-making, so it is important to make sure that what you think is an insight is, in fact, just that.

In a world where data is taking centre stage more and more, I often hear clients say things like “we are drowning in data; how do we unlock the insights from all this data we hold?”. But being data-rich does not mean you are insight-rich, as insights are not necessarily intrinsically linked to data. It is of course true that the ongoing explosion of data is providing us with more and more knowledge; in fact, more than we have ever had before. The trick is knowing how to use it in order to turn this knowledge into insight.

That said, data is just one part of the puzzle, and not always a source of insights. Much of the work I do is talking to (or observing) consumers directly in order to unearth insights. However, this comes with its own set of challenges, as consumers are often unable to articulate their needs as many of these are latent. In addition, if you are operating in a category which can be considered ‘low interest’ from the consumer point of view, these can be even harder to articulate… and ergo, unearthing the insight that sits at the heart of these consumer needs is harder.

It doesn’t matter what your source or data points are when seeking insights. What is important is that you need to understand what an insight is and – more importantly – what is not.

An insight is not an “observation” or the “reportage” of what has been seen or heard (qualitatively or quantitively). Observations are an extremely important part of creating or earthing an insight, but they should be treated as just one data point to consider… and they should never stand alone. That is because rigour is required for meaningful insight generation to happen. Meaningful insights are usually “powerful insights” which can unlock competitive advantage and drive growth. It is true that they are hard to find, but when you do, they can be extremely valuable.

In order to define an insight, you must take a multi-dimensional view. You need to unpack the “why” and or the “motivation” behind the observations, which sit behind a consumer’s behaviour or what they have said (qualitatively or quantitively).

Real insights don’t come from the consumer alone: they should be framed within the context of the marketing challenge, the competitive context and the company/brand capabilities. In order to do this, an insights framework is required to inject discipline and structure into their creation. There are plenty of definitions as to what an insight is (far too many to go into detail here), so what marketeers need to do is to work in collaboration with their key agencies to define their process of insight definition based on the business or marketing impact they want to drive within their own business or with a given campaign, for example.

But to get the ball rolling, here are some simple guardrails you can use to stress-test if you have a meaningful insight or not:

  • It should be anchored in a fundamental human truth
  • It should be a powerful observation about human behaviour or attitudes that prompts you to view the consumers from a fresh perspective
  • It should inform a new way of viewing the category/consumer/product in a way that causes you to re-examine existing conventions and challenge the status quo
  • It should be a previously unrecognised facet about the underlying motivations that drive people’s actions / behaviours or attitudes

Are you a Pepper?

November 4, 2010

Dr Pepper is 125 years old this year….. Now that just makes me want to run out and buy a can, alas that’s not so easy in Australia, as the product was withdrawn from the market in 2003 (having been introduced in 1997). Now I’m not a big fan of pop but if ever I do drink the stuff Dr Pepper is always top of mind. I know they have lots more flavours now, but I like the original one well enough which was brought to us by Charles Alderton in Waco, Texas way back in the 1880’s. I don’t have access to the product here, but forget that and still look for it if buying pop. I think this is clearly because it has such memorable branding. I even remember the jingle from back in the 1980’s…

I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper,

She’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper

Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?

Be a Pepper. Drink Dr Pepper

Were you a Pepper? Ok so it might not read well, but try and imagine Barry Manilow singing it, which I am sure he did but am open to being corrected on that one (my friend Adam should know being the expert he is on Barry).

Anyway, I just wanted to say a Happy 125th Birthday to Dr Pepper

A brand that scrubs up well…

August 5, 2010

WARNING: This is going to be a shameless plug for a brand I really like, simply because I can.

I was lucky enough to discover this range of products a few years back when I was on a work trip to Melbourne and stayed in the Prince Hotel in St Kilda, recommended to me by my guru in all things hip Kelly. Aesop products were provided as a courtesy in the bathroom and can I tell you I so did not want to get out of the shower and have to go and do my focus groups. On the morning of checking out I made sure I emptied the bathroom of any remaining product and have not looked back since, although I do buy the stuff now rathe than steal it.

Aesop was established back in 1987 (a cool decade if ever there was one) in the cultural heart of Australia, yes Melbourne. Their ethos was, and has remained, to provide a “range of superlative products”, and I challenge anyone who tries them not to like them. Their commitment to using plant-based ingredients appeals to the aspiring organic user in me, oh and can I just say all their products smell divine.

I was also very lucky to have the opportunity to hear one of the founders of the company give an inspiring speech about how dedication and a belief in innovation helped them get to where they are today. I believe them when they say they value “all human endeavours undertaken with intellectual rigour, vision, and a nod to the whimsical”.

The other thing about this brand that I love is their communications, I receive their newsletter and trust me they are great at living the promise they make to “advocate the use of our products as part of a balanced life that includes a healthy diet, sensible exercise, and a regular intake of good books”. It’s always a great read and they do make some very good recommendations re books.

They are known for being a different in terms of what they do, and nowhere is this more evident than in their retail outlets. I remember one autumn going into their store in Melbourne, they had the entire floor covered in piles of brown leaves, it was so cool. Going into their stores is a real sensory experience and they clearly put a lot of thought, effort and work into the space making it a great place to experience as a shopper. There is a novel idea, a retailer putting the shopper at the heart of what they do….

And finally – the product itself is brilliantly packaged, it is the kind of packaging you really want to keep once the bottle is empty. They are somewhat modest in appearance but the design is fast becoming iconic.

Oh and of course I should mention my two favourate products, are the Animal body wash – yes I did say animal. It is a mild “body and fur wash” which “is formulated with the same research, development and care” that they apply to all their products. It has lemon rind, tea tree and spearmint leaf in it, I love it. My other love is the body wash that has crushed coriander seeds and black peppercorns in it.

Is the much-derided new Pepsi logo all that bad?

April 9, 2009

























Ok I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it and it certainly would not put me off buying the product. However some of the vitriolic ramblings of many about the logo clearly is a good sign that there is a lot of passion for the brand. Surely people would not be so worked up about the change if they did not care for the brand, the Pepsi challenge is all about tapping into that passion in order to drive loyalty and perhaps one way is demonstrate that they listen to their consumers and admit they are wrong.


On a side note, I would love to see the focus groups they did for the designs….