How to find amazing Consumer Insights to help your brand

Slide1Great Brand Leaders start with the consumer first, while OK Brand Leaders tend to start with their product.  They can both go on a similar journey of strategy, tactics and execution, but what comes out at the end will be remarkably different.  Look at Apple who starts with the consumer and connects emotionally compared to Samsung who starts with the technology and connects rationally.

I always like to ask Brand Leaders:  “Do you represent your brand to your consumer or do you represent your consumer to the brand?”   Yes, I get stunned looks of confusion when I ask that.  But it’s an important question as to your mindset of how you do your job.  My challenge to you is to start thinking like your consumer and be their representative to your brand.  You’ll notice the work gets better, you’ll see clearer paths to growth and you’ll start to create a brand that the consumer loves rather than just likes.  When this happens, sales go up and the P&L spits out higher profitability.  Because the more loved the brand, the more powerful position it occupies and the more profit it can generate from that source of power.    

Take a Walk In The Shoes of Your Consumer.  With most of us, when we first fell in love with marketing, there were two key elements that got our juices going:  strategic thinking and consumer behavior.  Marketing brings these two elements together in a very challenging way.  You should be thinking about your consumer every day, all day.  Yes, you need to hit your sales and share goals.   But your consumers are your only source of revenue and you have to know them intimately.  Solving a consumer challenge feels like the biggest Rubik’s Cube we can find.  The reason I mention this is if you want to connect with your team and motivate them, then start talking about the consumer and you’ll see their engagement go up.  This is what they love.  Be curious about your consumer, constantly watching changes in the marketplace.

Consumers are selfish, and rightfully so, because they have money.  Consumers won’t part with their money until they get something in a fair trade.  They might buy your product one time because of what you do.  But they’ll buy it all the time if they get something from it.  Put yourself in the consumers shoes for a minute and ask two questions:  1.  “So what do i get?” helps uncover the rational benefit and what part of their life you will solve.  2. “So how does it make me feel” uncovers the emotional benefit and figures out how you’ll be part of their life.  For rational benefits, you’ll become liked and can become part of their routines.  But for emotional benefits, you’ll become loved and a ritual in their life.  They’ll pay a premium price for it, defend you at all costs and love you for life.

Brands have really four choices:  better, different, cheaper or not around for very long.  Marketers tend to get so fixated on being better that they take some small feature and try to make a huge deal out of it.  But they tend to leave out he option of DIFFERENT.  Within a sea of brands yelling features at the consumer, one of the best things you could do to stand out as DIFFERENT, is to get on the side of your consumer.  Next time you’re writing a brief and you come to the desired response, please don’t put:  “I want to buy that product”.   What you should be striving for is “That brand gets me” or “This brand is for me”.

The only way to really “get” and connect with the consumer is to uncover amazing consumer insights.

What is an insight? 

Whenever I give a talk on insights I use the following stats and ask is this an insight:  In North America, people brush their teeth an average of 1.6 times per day, yet in Brazil people brush their teeth up to 4-6 times a day.  Almost without fail, someone in the audience will think it’s an insight.  And we know this because we see it show up on briefs or in decks that sell in a product.

It’s a fact, not an insight.  What are we missing?   Well it’s just a data point and we don’t really understand much else.  Maybe people in Brazil eat spicier foods, engage in closer conversation, have problems with lack of fluoride, or maybe the people of Brazil have an increased vanity and this is just one more example.  We don’t really know, until we go below the surface of the facts and uncover meaningful insights.

My definition of Insight is Quite Different.  Insight is not something that consumers never knew before.  That would be knowledge or news, but not insight.  It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell.  Real insight goes a layer or two deeper to help with the cause and effect.  Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows.  Here is my definition:  Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”.

That’s why we laugh hysterically when we see insight projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.  Insights help tell the story, paint the picture or inspire the creative juices.  Insights need to be interesting or intriguing.  My challenge is to think beyond specific category insights and think about Life Insights or even Societal Trends  that could impact changing behaviour.

Jerry Seinfeld is the god of insights, whether it’s his TV show or his stand up routine.  There is zero shock value to Seinfeld and he never tells us anything new.  In fact, everything he says is exactly what our inner self is thinking.  He just serves it up in a creative manner to make us laugh.  I saw Seinfeld do a 90 minute stand up routine and I giggled the entire time because I could everything that he said already part of my life.

Slide1

Mining for Insights

The dictionary definition of the word Insight is “seeing below the surface”.  To get deeper, keep asking yourself “so what does that mean for the consumer” until you have an “AHA moment”.  What are the beliefs, attitudes or behaviors that help explain how they think, feel or act in relationship to your brand or category. 

Strategic Planners at Ad Agencies have a certain talent for uncovering insights.  As margins are squeezed, too many agencies are reducing the role of planners.  As a client, that’s a big mistake.  I have always loved having a great planner on my brands.

What I normally do is bring together a collection of people who best know the brand, the business and of course the consumer.  And we brainstorm to get a collection of insights.  Insights can be mined from many sources.

  • Find insights by bringing intuition to important data points by asking: “so what does this mean” or “how do we think this happened?”.
  • Insights can come from up-close observations of the consumer, in qualitative focus groups or in observing the purchase behavior in action.  Listen to what they say and how they say it.  Capture insightful quotes that summarize a big idea, as inspiration.  
  • Insights can come from mapping out a day in the life of the consumer to understand what’s going on in their brains.  In healthcare, we found Sunday’s nights was the best time to consider a jolt to improving your healthcare, not Thursday.  
  • Insights can come from looking at consumer problems in life, by creating talking about “who is the consumers enemy?”  Picking the enemy gives your brand focus and another way of bringing insight into your brand positioning.
  • If you track Voice of the Customer (VOC), you can find some very interesting raw data from the consumer.  You can potentially mine Facebook or Twitter comments from consumers.  
Framing the Insights

It’s important to decide when and how you will use Insights.  I normally will build 2-3 insights into a creative brief to give it some flavour.  I’ll lead off a Brand Concept with an enemy style consumer insight.   It’s a great way to connect with consumers and set up the potential problem they are facing.  

When it comes to writing consumer insights, I force everyone to start off start off each statement with the word “I” that forces us to get in the shoes of consumers and then put the insight in quote signs that forces us to use their voice.  

Here are Examples of how that can work for you: 

  • For a Bank:  “I am so busy driving my kids around, I can never get to the bank during banking hours.  I wish there was a bank that worked around my life, rather than me working around the banks’ life”. 
  • Quit Smoking:  “I know I should quit.  I’ve tried to quit so many times, it’s ridiculous., I’m not myself, I’m grouchy, irritable and I feel out of control. Quitting Smoking Sucks.” 
Your Brand will be more engaged and powerful when you take the stance that everything starts and ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

To read about how to Create Beloved Brands, read this:

Here’s a story I wrote last year that ties in closely by challenging Brand Leaders, click on this link  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to run a workshop to find your brand positioning or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.
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Five Ads that connect powerfully by getting on the side of consumers

consumers-1Whenever I watch TV these days, most of the ads on there just bark out some small feature they have compared to the competition.  I’m usually yelling at the TV:  “And what about the benefit?”   It drives me crazy because these same Brand Leaders say they are strategic and consumer focused.  Brands have really four choices:  better, different, cheaper or not around for very long.  Marketers tend to get so fixated on being better that they take some small feature and try to make a huge deal out of it.  But they tend to leave out he option of DIFFERENT.  

Within a sea of brands yelling features at the consumer, one of the best things you could do to stand out as DIFFERENT, is to get on the side of your consumer.   It will put you in that powerful position where they will say “This Brand is for me”.  

Here are five examples of Brands that connect with the consumer.  Maybe they can inspire you to start thinking about talking WITH the consumer about what’s important to them, rather than talking AT the consumer about what’s important to you.  After all, consumers don’t care what you do, until you care about what they want.  

Dove “Evolution”

For years Dove competed in the hand and body category, always with the Litmus test trying to be the BEST.  But they never really grabbed the huge share until they connected with the consumer and got clearly on their side by talking about real beauty.  

 

Nike “If you let me play”

Nike has a history of using big name athletes, but then every once in a while they make powerful ads that speak with the consumers.   This ad from the late 90s powerful speaks to the female participation in sports and what it can do for them. This ad is more about the consumer than it is the shoe, and puts Nike clearly on the side of female consumers.  

 

Benylin “Should I Stay”

This happens to be one of the spots I worked on.  Cough medicine is a tough category with so many competitors all saying the same thing.  Benylin for years, owned the “doctor recommended” claim.  The whole doctor recommended feels very out of date, and out of touch.  So once we made the decision to tell people to call in sick, take a day off and rest up, consumers started to see that we were on their side.  

 

Toyota “Swagger Wagon”

While every mini-van is talking about features, Toyota decided to talk about the consumers, even making fun of them.  It’s a bit dangerous to make fun of your consumer, especially making jokes about their mid-life crisis.  But this ad does an amazing job by talking about everything the consumer would already make fun of themselves for.  It clearly puts Toyota on the side of consumers.  Having owned a Sienna, and with 2 kids, this makes me laugh so hard.  

 

Ram “Farmer”

To me this is one of the best ads of the year, the clear winner at this year’s Super Bowl.  During a very patriotic time for Americans, this ad just screams, we get you.  I love how dramatic the voice over of Paul Allen against the still photos of the American farmer.  it’s less about the truck and clearly about the consumer.  

 

Find an Insight to Stand Behind

Insight is not something that consumers ever knew before.  That would be knowledge not insight.  It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell.  Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows. Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”.  That’s why we laugh when see the way that insight is projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.  These ads above all tap nicely into a real life insight, beyond the brand.  

Step in the shoes of your consumer and you’ll be shocked how good it feels.

 

To see a training presentation on getting better Advertising: 

 

 

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind

brand-leader1As Brand Leaders, our days get busy, running from meeting to meeting, trying to deliver our numbers, gain share and hit our forecasts.  We have a few new products that are long over due and now we’re trying to make the most of them.  Finance has found a potential cost savings from the plant but it’s unsure if it will be off-set by a one time surcharge.  We have a presentation at Wal-Mart next week and think we’ll walk away with a new listing.  We have a new claim from the R&D team that we think delivers superiority versus our closest competitor.   And finally, we have the go-ahead to do a new ad, but we think our senior managers will insist that we make the ad to their exact requirements and that it delivers their new vision statement.  This is an average day in marketing. Except, we have not thought once about the consumer.  Maybe that’s the norm when we get so busy or face pressures to make the numbers.  

I always like to ask Brand Leaders:  “Do you represent your brand to your consumer or do you represent your consumer to the brand?”   Yes, I get stunned looks of confusion when I ask that.  But it’s an important question as to your mindset of how you do your job.  My challenge to you is to start thinking like your consumer and be their representative to your brand.  You’ll notice the work gets better, you’ll see clearer paths to growth and you’ll start to create a brand that the consumer loves rather than just likes.  When this happens, sales go up and the P&L spits out higher profitability.  Because the more loved the brand, the more powerful position it occupies and the more profit it can generate from that source of power.    

Take a Walk In The Shoes of Your Consumer   With most of us, when we first fell in love with marketing, there were two key elements that got our juices going:  strategic thinking and consumer behavior.  Marketing brings these two elements together in a very challenging way.  You should be thinking about your consumer every day, all day.  Yes, you need to hit your sales and share goals.   But your consumers are your only source of revenue and you have to know them intimately.  Solving a consumer challenge feels like the biggest Rubik’s Cube we can find.  The reason I mention this is if you want to connect with your team and motivate them, then start talking about the consumer and you’ll see their engagement go up.  This is what they love.  Be curious about your consumer, constantly watching changes in the marketplace.

Live and breathe insights about your consumers.  Insight is not something you just do when you’re spending the hour that you write your creative brief.  You should be gathering insight at every chance you can, and unleashing that knowledge throughout every day.  Insight is not something that your consumers never knew before.  That would be knowledge not insight.  It’s not data or fact about your brand that you want to tell.  That helps, but you have to go a layer deeper to find your insights.   Oddly enough, Insight is something that everyone already knows. Insight comes to life when it’s told in such a captivating way that makes consumers stop and say “hmm, I thought I was the only who felt like that”.  That’s why we laugh when see the way that insight is projected with humor, why we get goose bumps when insight is projected with inspiration and why we cry when the insight comes alive through real-life drama.  

Get in the shoes of those Consumers and you’ll quickly realize that consumers do not care about what you do, until you care about what they want.   Instead of mentioning a feature, force yourself to ask “If I’m the consumer so what do I get” five times to see if you can get to the richness of the functional benefits.   Then look at that functional benefit and ask “so how does that make me feel”.  Stop talking features and start talking benefits–both the rational and emotional.   No one has ever wanted a 1/4 inch drill, they just want a 1/4 inch hole.   

Consumers are busier than ever.  Whether it’s working late, trying to balance everything or doing too much, they have so little time.   People are multi-tasking, texting while driving or on the TV while watching TV—which is up 35% this year.  Traditional ways with a 30 second ad and a billboard aren’t having the same effect in today’s world.  The average consumer is exposed to over 6,000 advertising message per day.  The consumers’ brain sorts through the clutter until finds something that might fill their needs.  Imagine your boring logical message, well thought and all, breaking through to that consumer.  Even with the fast paced life, most consumers are bored with life and just want something to entice them.   The simplest way to challenge boredom is to like everything you do unconditionally, but if this bored consumer meets up with a boring brand, it will be rejected very quickly.  You have to matter to those consumers that really care.  And you have to know what connects with them to get the way to stand out.   

Living in the Consumers Shoes is Contagious.  When you start asking about how the consumer buys, what they are thinking about now or what do we want them to think, you’ll notice others on your team following your cues and start thinking like a consumer.  It will be energizing.  When you ask “will our consumer love this” it sets the bar very high.  Here’s my simple challenge for you:  If you don’t love the work you do, how do you expect the consumer to love your Brand.  The best filter for your work is the consumer.  It’s more important than what Wal-Mart thinks or what your boss likes/doesn’t like.  When looking at new products, the R&D team should be more obsessed with what the consumer wants than what they might be capable of coming up in their lab.  As Steve Jobs famously said “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.”

Brand Leaders Play It Far Too Safe to Find True Love.  Brand Leaders choose the safety of logic and facts instead of getting too deep or going all emotional with their consumer.  And, most brands end up liked but never end loved.   My Mom Wanted Me to Be an Actuary.  Apparently, an Actuary has one of the longest life expectancies, can make quite a bit of money and they live the ideal work-life balance.  Sounds like the perfect job, but I just couldn’t do it.   What’s lacking in the life of an actuary is the ability to have fun at work or drive all your passion into your work to create something big.   You can make a real difference.   So if you’re not going to be an Actuary…then stop acting like one when you’re the Brand Leader.  We can’t afford to keep doing just the usual, we can’t get stuck in logic and we can’t just satisfy needs.   We need to push to go beyond greatness at every touch point with our selfish and bored consumers.  We need to cultivate a deep emotional relationship with our consumer and we need to entice craving and desire.  

Everything starts and ends with the consumer in mind.  

 

To read about how to Create Beloved Brands, read this:

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

 

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to run a workshop to find your brand positioning or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.