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Digging for Gold


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Did you ever wonder how you can detect powerful consumer insights and set them apart from the ones that won’t be game changers? What is a good insight and how can it be a springboard for future marketing actions? The path we follow to uncover these deep and potent insights here at InSites Consulting is elaborated here. In this paper, the focus lies on insight validation, the often skipped but necessary step in the consumer insight process and how insight validation can help unlock the insights with the greatest innovation, activation or branding potential.

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Digging for Gold

  1. 1. Digging for Gold How to select those consumer insights that will change your business Annelies Verhaeghe Head of Research Innovation Katia Pallini Survey Innovation Manager Ashley Smith Business Director Daniel Teixeira Research Manager FMCG Filip De Boeck Managing Partner
  2. 2. The quest to uncover high-potential consumer insights to drive marketing innovation is not new within the wider marketing community. For some time now many consumer (and even B2B) companies have engaged in ‘close to customer’ programs. These insight activation processes can easily lead to dozens of insights that can all serve as a springboard for marketing innovation. However, in the current commercial marketing environment, dollars are not limitless, so a selection of insights with the highest potential is becoming more crucial. In this paper, we will explain how insight validation can help identify the insights with the highest innovation, activation or branding potential and uncover the why behind an insight’s score. What to expect
  3. 3. The quest for consumer insights
  4. 4. “The consumer is to be at the heart of all our innovation, branding and communication.” Recognize this mission? Although many brands claim to integrate this credo in their DNA, many companies struggle to implement this structurally. It is obligatory to set up a structural approach for discovering and selecting consumers insights that can serve as a springboard for innovation and brand activation. In this paper, we will demonstrate you that within this process insight validation is a necessary, but often forgotten step. But before we get to that, let’s first define what a consumer insight exactly is. What’s in a name ‘Consumer insights’ is one of the most misused terms in marketing and market research. Here’s a definition of ‘consumer insight’: A consumer insight is typically a short, single-minded statement written in consumer language that reflects the opening sentence of the product or brand story that engages the consumer by setting up the need, the wish or the desire.” “A consumer insight represents an understanding of the inner nature of things, leading to a discovery of something that is not yet obvious but at same time recognizable and real, and providing the basis for relevant and actionable marketing decisions, ultimately leading to competitive advantage.”
  5. 5. Our magic formula for an insight
  6. 6. Our definition uncovers some crucial elements that a consumer insight should possess in order to drive business potential. It’s me A good insight is relevant for a consumer. Relevance can be driven by personal identification or by peer identification (this is when an insight is called contagious). Aha! An insight should be fresh and present a new way of looking at things. This includes both discovering something completely new as well as uncovering an existing reality in a new way. An insight should not be apparent immediately. It is latently present and often you only realize that it is true the moment you hear it. It brings to the surface what was there subconsciously. Emotion An insight should have an emotional valence. It can be a friction or problem that consumers want to solve. But it could also be a desire for something. Consumers should be excited about having a potential solution. The better the insight, the higher the business potential. It can unlock marketing innovation on different levels: brand innovation, product innovation, service innovation, communication and consumer activation.
  7. 7. Insight validation, a necessary step!
  8. 8. Even companies that put consumer insights at the core of innovation sometimes lack the discipline to validate these insights before starting ideation. However, skipping this stage has several drawbacks: • The cost and time investment further down the innovation funnel is only increasing with time. When selecting insights for ideation, solely based on a ‘gut feeling’, you risk to invest in innovation that is not based on a need that is recognized by a large proportion of your consumers. Innovation or brand activation dollars are not endless. • Once you start validating concepts without prior validation of the insight, it is hard to separate the potential/quality of your concept’s different building blocks. Is your insight driving the concept’s success or failure or is it something else? • Insight validation will help to assess the potential of an insight for your brand and your target group. Let’s be clear - we are not proposing that all consumer insights generated during earlier activities are not built on real consumer needs, but how do you know: • which ones deal with original thoughts and aspirations for your target group? • which ones are already intuitively linked to your brand’s DNA? • which needs your target group is relatively more motivated to see a solution for? • to what extent the insight addresses needs from all consumers or just from several segments? • Insight validation helps you to optimize and better understand the insights. By several creative tools, one can detect why a certain insight is not scoring well. By measuring emotions, you get a better understanding of the emotional space that an insight captures.
  9. 9. Prioritizing in the fuzzy front end
  10. 10. Before we activate insights and start ideating, they should be validated using an online survey with a representative target A first crucial step is to test the consumer language. Insights that do not pass the ‘Clarity’ minimum acceptable score will be given a qualitative analysis on how to improve the wording of the insight for possible re-testing. Insights are primarily evaluated against 4 key performance indicators resulting in an overall ‘Insight strength’ score. We measure both the potential of the insight with the consumers themselves as well as the contagious nature of the insight to activate conversations. This KPI helps us map the insight’s social potential. The composite score is benchmarked against a global benchmark database and based on that, a recommen- dation can be formulated to go ahead, rework or reject a specific insight. sample (N=min. 150)
  11. 11. Relevance Freshness Excitement Contagious Conversations INSIGHT STRENGTH + + + = To what extent can you personally identify with this statement? Aha, I did not think of this issue or idea this way before! How excited would you be if a solution or message was developed to address the issue? How often have you noticed other people talking about the issue?
  12. 12. From validation only to understanding
  13. 13. In order to gain additional sensing and understanding of the underlying dimension of an insight’s performance, we need to go beyond merely asking questions. The ‘overall insights strength’ score should not be your end goal. It is important to move from validation to understanding and to grasp why an insight is underperforming or performing well. By means of different tools and tactics, we move beyond the traditional single-box thinking of asking questions in an individual setting. Tapping into other collaboration modes, such as task-based elements (doing), allows us to contextualize the insights and to understand why an insight is (not) performing well. It is often hard to explain why an insight underperforms on a certain KPI; the same goes for explaining score differences between countries. The contextual elements provide a better comprehension of the why behind these score differences. Moving away from single-box thinking by tapping into other collaboration modes Consumers are social animals and are influenced by group thinking. By means of introducing a semi-social dimension in some tools, we manage to identify the contagious effect. Next, our crowd interpretation approach allows to gain additional insights. BRAND & RESEARCHER - CONSUMER CONSUMER-CONSUMER
  14. 14. With a set of quantitative and qualitative plug-in tools, we stimulate consumers to think harder and better. They help us to go beyond pure benchmarking. These tools allow us to contextualize the insights and to understand why an insight is (not) performing well. The word-marking tool allows participants to indicate what aspects of the insights they like and dislike. This allows us to understand why consumers identify with an insight or not. We can for example detect to what extent a friction in a given insight is driving the identification. Relevance can be driven by personal identification or by peer identification. Yet we often lack an understanding of the ‘why’. By means of using a result-sharing approach, we get a richer and deeper understanding of this identification level. In this crowd interpretation exercise, participants are asked to interpret the results by using their own background as a reference point. Previous research has shown that this approach uncovers 66% of additional understanding and helps to filter out social desirability bias.
  15. 15. As pointed out earlier, it is important that each insight has an emotional valence. Through emotional measurement, we map the emotions triggered by an insight and their relative emotional positioning. Knowing the emotional space claimed by an insight is powerful information for ideation, concept development, future communication and brand activation. In our approach, we capture emotions implicitly as we want filter out over- rationalizations. We put consumers under time pressure to avoid that they start over-rationalizing their answer. This approach allows to identify four important quadrants (see figure on the right). In a second phase we show participants their strongest linked emotions and ask them to explain the why. It is important to get an understanding of the contextual space of an insight. In the Picture Shop we give participants a set of tasks, each with a specific challenge related to an insight. Participants can complete a task by uploading an image and reflecting on it. The inspirational output from this exercise helps get a more in-depth understanding of the consumer context related to an insight. Furthermore they also allow us to identify potential target group differences.
  16. 16. Growing the actionability
  17. 17. In the end, a good insight should activate people and lead to behavioral change. It should thus generate excitement for a possible solution. Insight validation is often followed by an idea conceptualization phase, so why not involve consumers in this conceptualization and help us tap into that solution space? In the ideation tool we invite participants to truly collaborate with the brand and brainstorm on potential solutions. Participants can create their own ideas, while at the same time they see what other participants have posted. This social dimension generates a snowball effect where ideas are shaped going from one participant to the other. The output of this brainstorm tool are idea cards that can be used during workshops. Through a projective technique, we measure how close or far away an insight is perceived to be to a particular brand. Consumers are probed to think about the biggest brand fan and are invited to indicate to what extent this brand fan would identify with the brand.
  18. 18. Common pitfalls in insight validation
  19. 19. Insight validation can bring a lot to the table, yet it requires a careful execution. Here are some pitfalls to be aware of: • Benchmarks are crucial to evaluate the performance of your insight. But insight validation is a relatively new discipline, so category or target group benchmarks are often absent. In this case, it may be wise to add some ‘old/proven’ insights to create an internal benchmark. • Do not limit yourself to quantitative analysis alone. Although insight validation is done through quantitative surveying, it is only by blending it with qualitative research that one gets the most out of the data. By performing a content analysis on groups of insights that perform (less) well, we can detect the underlying characteristics an insight should have to score well. It is crucial to go beyond asking questions and include qualitative plug-ins that bring this additional understanding. • Are all your insights scoring well in China, but not in the Netherlands? You probably did not take response styles into account. Previous research teaches us that there is a culture influence on how consumers rate insights. Therefore normalization is crucial! • Fuzzy front end research is often associated with innovation. However, there are also insights that relate to communication, customer experience or branding. Insight validation can be applied to all types of insights. In this context it is also vital to look at the individual KPIs and not only to insight strength as an overall measure. For example, when working on communication or brand activation, you may find it more important that the insight is ‘fresh’ and ‘conversation worthy’ rather than other types of insights. • Crap in…crap out. Writing the insights that serve as input for the validation is an art in itself. An insight should be written in consumer language, focus on a single-minded idea and clearly contain an emotional dimension. This has proven to be a very challenging skill in workshops with clients and requires consistency and strict moderation. • Insight validation is particularly challenging when it comes to testing taboos or socially (un)desirable insights. Taboo insights often lead to negative results, due to the reluctance to admit embarrassing or socially unaccepted situations.
  20. 20. About taboo testing ‘Our research has indicated that insight formulation is crucial when dealing with taboo platforms. We set up an insight validation study aiming at testing different formulations: (1) Original taboo insight, (2) Positioning the insight in a positive emotional context & (3) Presenting the insight in the third person, with more context, through storytelling. Additionally the Consumer Relevance KPI question was asked indirectly in order to identify taboo situations. Our results show that the taboo effect can be minimized: whilst performing equally on all other KPIs, the Consumer Relevance increases when positive or storytelling formulations are used. Using the Relevance KPI in the 3rd person is also useful to identify a taboo insight. Also, the average insight strength increases significantly across different insight formulations. ‘When going out we’re usually just sharing good times and catching up...’ ‘When going out I enjoy that feeling of being part of a group...’ ‘When in a disco, I want to fit as one of the crowd...’ Storytelling formulation Positively stated Original insight
  21. 21. As part of an organizational drive to strengthen their consumer-led innovation process, Heineken International sought a partner to provide a meaningful solution to help select the most potent consumer insights to use as a basis for product innovation or branding/communication initiatives. Since 2010, Heineken has tested hundreds of consumer insights across the globe using our Insight Validation tool. We partner also in other phases of the innovation journey (insight writing workshops, ideation workshops, concept writing workshops,…). The insight validation phase has become mandatory in the Innovation Process and the quality of product concepts generated further down the innovation funnel is clearly benefiting from this. Marion Hoek-Koudenburg, Consumer Insight Manager at Heineken, explains it as follows: “A protocol for Consumer Insight testing, which is in line with our HNV Consumer Insight criteria, allows us to even better understand our consumers and their language, adding significant value to our innovation projects while helping minimize the risk to the company”. By conducting insight validation, Heineken significantly reduces their chances of moving weak insights further down the innovation funnel. As a result, ideas and concepts based on validated insights perform significantly better. The latter is clearly demonstrated in a meta-analysis which revealed that the unpriced buying intention of concepts based on validated consumer insights is up to 20% higher in comparison with concepts based on insights that were not tested upfront. Some proof from our clients
  22. 22. Cloetta’s goal is to build a solid foundation of consumer understanding as the key to success for break-through and break-out innovations in fun yet rather mature categories such as candy, chocolate, chewing gum and pastilles. Cloetta is a leading confectionery company founded in 1862 in Sweden. They own some of the strongest brands on the market (e.g. Läkerol, Jenkki), all with a long heritage tradition. Insight validation research is firmly embedded in their innovation process as it helps them decide which insights to take forward in their innovation funnel. The team is often confronted with far too many innovation ideas; which need to be validated in order to cherry-pick those that can bring incremental growth. Insight validation research is a crucial step in the process and has proven to increase the success rate of innovations through knowledge and insights. Their quest for consumer understanding translates in the need to understand why certain insights underperform and how they can be optimized. Insight validation in its purest form is not sufficient. Our approach plugs in different task-based elements and creative tools, allowing the Cloetta team to comprehend why certain insights underperform or how others could be improved. Next, these qualitative plug-ins allow to uncover nuance differences not only between scores, but also between countries, which is a key dimension to comprehend for an international brand, active in different markets, such as Cloetta. Some proof from our clients
  23. 23. Insight validation is part of the
  24. 24. Innovation is a journey. Insight validation is only one step in the fuzzy front end. Therefore, and in order to ensure it is truly powerful, one should not use this Ideally, it starts with leveraging existing knowledge: previous research that touched upon a certain topic, data collected by the consumer care center, consumer feedback that is shared on social media. We sit on a (big) pile of data and the efficient digestion of what is already known can already uncover new insights. Consumer immersion is a second important component in the mix. New methods like consumer- led ethnography allow you to deep-dive into the consumer’s world so we can fully understand all consumer needs and underlying motivations and therefore discover new consumer insights, by innovative techniques like crowd interpretation or using the power of Consumer Consulting. After validation, the most potent insights are used as inspirational springboards for idea generation. Here also, companies often do not involve the consumer. It is important to ensure that the consumer is “kept alive” throughout the ideation – in the physical workshop, through overnight idea screening or through virtual co-creation communities. research in isolation
  25. 25. Relevance 1 Immersion Insighting Validation Ideation & conceptingIdentify meaningful observations 360° interpretation Shaping insights Prioritize Development & validation 2 3 4 5
  26. 26. Ashley SmithAnnelies Verhaeghe Daniel Teixaira Filip De Boeck +32 9 269 12 12 @ash_m_smith +32 9 269 15 12 @DTeixeira +32 9 269 14 06 @annaliezze +1 646 334 0694 @filip_deboeck Katia Pallini +32 9 269 12 23 @KPallini
  27. 27. Thank you! @InSites