The Importance of Consumer Insights in Marketing
“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”
This quote from celebrated author Ernest Hemingway can define a crucial aspect of his success and why his books resonated so well with his readers. The more you listen to your audience, the more you know about their behavior. You know their likes, dislikes, how they think, react, and feel.
Modern-day marketers can probably take a leaf out of his book and make use of customer insights to please their customers. But, before we launch into a detailed discussion, let’s know exactly what the discussion is all about.
What are customer insights?
Essentially, customer insight is an interpretation of people’s behavior used by organizations to better know how their customers (existing or potential) think, react, feel, and interact. This interpretation is then used to drive business decisions on various fronts like brand positioning, audience or market targeting, and product pricing, among others.
Why are customer insights important?
The value of investing time or money in anything depends on its importance to your business. Fortunately, customer insights have proven to be well worth this investment.
When conducted properly, customer insight research can greatly improve the effectiveness of a company’s communication to its customers, which is likely to change consumer behavior, therefore, achieving the endgame objective of increased sales and engagement.
Also, it is important to understand that market research and customer insights are not alternatives to each other, rather they work in conjunction. Market research provides essential information about market needs, market sizes, competitors and customers. It’s the cold, hard-fact perspective of the picture, easily translated into figures and statistics. Customer insights, on the other hand, in addition to numbers, bring the know-how to craft suitable narratives around the obtained data, narratives that are tailor-made for the targeted audience, and thus are relatable and most effective in driving sales.
How to make the best use of customer insights?
First things first
Now that you know what customer insights are, and why they are important, it’s time to understand how they can be used to your advantage. But how do you recognize if an insight is useful or not?
Ideally, for customer insights to be of real value in your business’s growth, there are a few things which need to be figured out before we start developing these insights:
- Identify the data that needs to be collected during the customer insight research and the resources which will be needed for this collection.
- Decide upon a data collection method that is best suited to your business domain and budget. For instance, an online streaming service might want to collect data from their customers’ viewership patterns while a small retail store franchise might lean towards good old pamphlet surveys.
- Develop a basic idea of how you are going to condense the raw data you have collected into tangible customer insights that can help you drive actual business decisions. Often, businesses find it easier to collect huge amounts of research data than to translate that data into real insights.
Know your customers
Customer insights help you know your customers, and this knowledge can help you market your products or services in a way that establishes a strong connection between them and your business.
A commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting, and released by Epsilon, cited that creating customer-insights to drive decision making is the top-ranked challenge for Indian marketers.
Also, the study found big gaps between customer expectations and what marketers are doing today.
This indicates an urgent need for understanding, not just customer behavior but also their psyche, and working on strategies that relate with them. A great example of this is the Find Your Greatness campaign launched by Nike during the London Olympics.
Based on their customer insights, Nike realized that the majority of its customers are not professional athletes, as the brand positioning of most major sportswear and shoe companies suggests, but common people engaging in usual fitness activities. Without compromising on mass appeal, and armed with data-driven personas to pinpoint their target audience, Nike set out to inspiring these everyday-athletes to ‘achieve their defining moment of greatness.’
Needless to say, the campaign turned out to be a great exercise in positive brand building.
Use the magic of a personal touch
For better or worse, we humans are sticklers for personal attention - all of us crave the feeling that someone out there in the big bad world notices us and cares about us. If your brand or business can position itself as that special ‘someone,’ you can have the undying loyalty of your customers served to you on a silver platter.
Insights into the way your customers behave can help you deliver this personal touch in several ways ranging from playful to warm and everything in between.
For example, by drawing insights from the analysis of its data, Spotify’s billboard campaign highlighted the individuality of its subscribers based on the music they listen to:
Netflix, on the other hand, uses the insight gained from people’s viewing behavior data to feed its extremely sophisticated algorithms. The algorithms then use this data to make personalized suggestions of content they think a person may like to watch.
Even though there is an undeniable digital aspect to most use-cases of customer insights, this does not mean that only software companies can make the best use of them. For instance, Very, a women’s apparel brand, uses sign-in data and weather data to make an instant connection with their customers.
Sometimes, observations may help where data doesn’t
At times, the nature of data leading to a customer insight may be so intangible that data collection methods fail to capture it. In such cases, good old observation comes to your rescue. Take Amazon’s hyperlocal approach to the Indian markets, for example.
To make their brand relatable to Indian consumers, and especially the middle-class Indian consumers, Amazon designed marketing campaigns around taglines like ‘Aur Dikhao’ and ‘Kya Pehnu.’
To convey features like easy returns and access to genuine products on Amazon.in, they decided to use a phrase from Indian popular culture “Yeh apni dukaan hai.” In daily parlance, customers generally use ‘apni dukaan’ for stores that they are more familiar with and have complete trust in. They wanted to make people aware that Amazon.in is one such store. Such insight about the target audience and market can go a long way towards making a brand familiar, or even lovable to an extent.
Moreover, it is not as if there is an either-or relation with regards to using observations and data because the two overlap in most cases.
Don’t miss the bandwagon
Jumping the bandwagon is not always a good idea, but missing out on one completely is guaranteed to end in regrets. More and more businesses are now realizing the immense difference customer insights can make to the way they function on every level, making it high time for you and your business also to start getting the lay of the land.
A sensible solution to achieve great results is to delegate the work to experts who can, in conjunction with your business knowledge, help facilitate the accumulation of relevant data, and the drawing of useful customer insights from it.
At Epsilon, our vast experience in finding the best strategy suited for a company to reach their consumers, can help you build and use customer insights. To learn more about our strategic solutions, please feel free to contact us.