Interviewing For Insights – A Primer Rev 2 Lisa Radin
Interviewing for Insights – A Primer
Work in Process a/o 11.18.10, Rev. 2
Prepared by: Lisa Radin, Creative Strategist
Corporate Craziness – A lesson in lesson
aka – Why writing this:
• Email from brand manager billion $ CPG
– Interviewing for insights, how should I do it?
• If CPG not hiring expert, would think:
– Training staff for insight skill would rank high
– Desire to avoid waste/spend:
• Recruiting, location expense, planning time, stipend, catering, video
• Lack of true insights; obtain conversations but relatively useless
• Ideas gained not flushed out; incorrect drivers of change
2Insights Primer by Lisa Radin
Importance of Lessons – Training
Having right people, right skills to excel?
• Would you ski down a mountain w/o lessons?
• Run a marathon without training, intense prep?
• Have secretary pitch a multi-million $ new business just
because she’s nice and has gift of gab?
• Think your 17 yr old driver knows enough to race w the pros,
as in NASCAR?
Training is needed to do job right, or
major accidents will happen
3Insights Primer by Lisa Radin
Insights Primer – Sharing My Ways
• Lessons are directional, conceptual and subject to change
• Use as thought-starters; rough draft
• Learn from someone doing for 25 years
• Applied to CPG, FMCG, B2B and B2C: brand, category, distribution, service
– Universal approach
• Always works, but fine-tuning always needed
• Never be afraid to ask questions, dig. People like to talk if you give them
‘room’ and unthreatened, friendly environment.
– You, or interviewer in control of creating friendly ‘place’:
– Never the interviewee fault for not talking or providing ideas – need
skills to find.
• Read lessons in basic skills and good luck.
Insights Primer by Lisa Radin 4
Lesson 1: Insights – Understand What You Seek
• Goal(s): Deep dig on how people think, feel, perceive
brands/category and what influences them to think and act a
– Emotional and sometimes illogical*
– Rational and sometimes illogical*
* Do Not Judge Logic. You are there to understand the
illogical – that is the goal; that is window of opportunity.
5Insights Primer by Lisa Radin
Lesson 2: The Customer is Always Right
• Perception is Reality
– Consumer perceptions even if not logical, are real.
• Their ‘truths’ are the only ‘truths’ that matter.
• Corporate truths or interviewer truths don’t matter.
• Don’t inject your attitudes, company attitudes to sway opinion
– Your job = to find customer insights/opinion, their truths.
– Leave your personal or corporate/brand baggage at the doorstep.
• What you think, or what your VP/CEO wants to happen, doesn’t matter
when gaining insights.
– You and company are not in control of consumer thoughts, beliefs, attitudes.
Save that for later, when you want to control the gaps (ideas) that were found
with marketing, packaging, branding, advertising strategies/tactics, etc.
– Right now, during the insights process, consumer is #1 and you/company
relatively invisible to process aka ‘not important’.
• This is difficult for most companies to accept and reason outside insights
types are hired.
6Insights Primer by Lisa Radin
Lesson 3: Cleanse your brain
• While the ultimate purpose of insights =find the big idea(s)
• Must cleanse brain of everything you know, think you know.
• Mentally dump your brand woes/problems, competition –
everything you wish to get out of the meeting into a paper
bag and lock away in your closet.
– This mental exercise reduces clutter of vested interests and opens
mind to freely listen, question, connect thoughts/nuances (dots) when
speaking/listening with consumer along w observing non-verbal cues.
– Must cleanse and prep your brain for ‘incoming’ insights.
7Insights Primer by Lisa Radin
Lesson 4: Become a “Living Sponge”
• With a ‘clean brain’ and an open-mind, preconceived notions
on how people should think, or feel no longer exist.
• You are now a ‘living’ sponge
– There to soak up every piece of information, thought,
feeling, lifestyle issue impacting thought, etc. that you can
extract from your subject.
– You must listen to ‘the verbal’ and watch ‘the non-verbal’.
• Look up non-verbal cues: facial expressions, animated style, body
• When explaining with their body – what’s the tone, the actual
movements? All inputs for later use.
8Insights Primer by Lisa Radin
Lesson 5: Don’t Talk Too Much
• You are not being interviewed. You are not the customer. Your thoughts
don’t matter. Stop talking and let the consumer talk.
• Say as little as you can to start the process and be sure the interviewee
explains in their own words – common marketing phrases.
– While ‘category’ is common-speak, man-on-the street can call
toothpaste cat: place to go to get rid of bad breath.
– While retail aisle is common-speak, interviewee can view as ‘the place’
or ‘section of store’ or ‘confusing store area’ or Target.
• The big ideas are in the details
• Assume nothing. Let consumer define everything in their own words.
Don’t talk too much. And, strive to obtain detail.
9Insights Primer by Lisa Radin
Lesson 6A: THINK. So What Do You Want To Learn?
– Feelings and Thoughts about Category
• Category comes 1st
• Why are they ‘there’ in the first place?
– Be sure they define ‘category’ in their own words – ‘A place where
XYZ, the place my mother loves, need it to breathe’…
– Your definition of category may be different than their definition.
– If it’s toothpaste category – don’t assume everyone brushes teeth or
thinks relevant, important .
» They need to tell you the importance of category in their terms.
» Remember previous lessons – ‘You know nothing, must make
them tell you’
• How lifestyle, age, life issues (fears, anxieties, health, joy-drivers, special
interests), family situation (kids, spouse, problems at home), work,
cultural mindset, dreams, hopes - all impact using category.
– What they love and like re category (positive things)
– What they hate, dislike re category (major frustrations, or negative things)
10Insights Primer by Lisa Radin
Lesson 6B: THINK. So What Do You Want To Learn?
• Feelings and Thoughts about Brands. (same approach as 6A)
– Brand comes after category.
– What do they think/feel about certain brands?
• Don’t prompt. Let them talk about brand names they use and why they use for
certain reasons and or occasions.
– If they know only partial brand names, let them describe package,
merchandising, where found in store – don’t adlib. You don’t want your own
– If listening to earlier conversation re category, ask how chosen brands fit their personal
needs, attitudes, beliefs, etc.
– Remember, the details provide the opportunity.
• If they think a certain way and favorite brand only delivers 80% of happy-factor,
that’s a potential opportunity.
• How lifestyle, age, life issues (fears, anxieties, health, joy-drivers, special interests),
family situation (kids, spouse, problems at home), work, daily living, cultural
mindset, dreams, hopes - all impact the brands they purchase.
– What they love and like re brands (positive things)
– What they hate, dislike re brands(major frustrations, or negative things)
11Insights Primer by Lisa Radin
Lesson 7: The Big Encounter
• Control your judgments; first impressions.
• Ugly people can have great ideas.
• Obese people can have great ideas.
– Are they obese due to a medication, health problem?
• Beautiful people can have good, or bad ideas.
• Messy or smelly people could have a bad hair day, fight with
their kid, or a broken shower.
• While observing hairstyle, hair color, dress/fashion, shoes,
purse, car brands, or personal hygiene – your first impressions
can be spot-on, or completely off-base.
• Must keep open-mind beyond first impression.
– Ugly, obese, smelly, strange people buy your products – don’t rule out
their thoughts. Big mistake!
12Insights Primer by Lisa Radin
Lesson 8: Connecting
• Must make positive emotional connections to increase comfort-factor.
• Use child development skills/phrases for positive behavioral response:
– Praise: “Impressive thought, tell me more.”
– Honesty: “I never knew that, can you explain?”
– Compassion: “That must be difficult, how does that impact you?”
– Engage: “I need your help.”
– Set Goals: “Here to learn about your thoughts/feelings re XYZ”
• Learn re the ‘whole person’ not only ‘person using a given brand’
– What makes them ‘tick’?
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Lessons 9-25: In Process
• We’ll see how Lessons 1-8 are received prior to moving
14Insights Primer by Lisa Radin
About The Author
• Doing insights since 1980; called it ‘understanding people’ and ‘Grandmother
• Good story: In 3 weeks for a new business pitch to Searle and later recycled to
Mead-Johnson did Grandmother Research in OTC meds.
– While talking to coworkers, friends and neighbors found most frustrating
illness was the flu and no OTC to help ‘as can’t keep anything down and loss of
vitamins/minerals’. In addition, people remembered their moms giving them
hot tea as compassionate drink.
– Created FLU FOOD concept, sprinkle pain reliever with vitamins/minerals that
when mixed w water behaves like hot tea.
– No clue if this concept led to Sandoz introduction of Theraflu® which was
introduced 3 years later and became the fastest growing drug store category.
– All I can tell you? Identified big idea by talking to people and did in less than 3
– Introduction of Theraflu led to OTC med segmentation by illness that still
dominates the category.
• Strong believer that good ideas are in the minds of consumers – must listen and
dig to discover.
15Insights Primer by Lisa Radin
• The ideas and thoughts presented are those of Lisa (Friedman) Radin.
• If you don’t agree, that’s OK, my feelings won’t be hurt.
• Nothing is ever set in stone, things change. But the basics are here should
you wish to learn.
• Have fun, gaining insights an adventure like no other.
• Companies so wrapped up in thinking a certain way, they find it difficult to
believe their consumers. Insights works to uncover true feelings re brand.
But company management must accept to move forward to innovate.
• Many believe if talk to consumers will learn insights, not true. It’s not
about talk, it’s about deep feelings behind the talk. If going to try and get
insights, try to do it right. This primer is intended to help companies who
want to DIY insights (do-it-yourself).
16Insights Primer by Lisa Radin