How We’ve Abused The Word ‘Insight’ Into Irrelevance
Since the marketing world has made ‘insight’ its favourite buzzword, everyone is obliged to work it into everyday business conversation.
These days, market researchers are under enormous pressure.
Every slide in the their presentation is expected to deliver an ‘insight’.
At best, what a well done exploratory research gets to is a ‘discovery’. Sometimes several interesting discoveries. Something you did not know before. And these have worth.
But they are not yet insights.
You, see, because a true insight for a brand involves a creative process. Consumers don’t speak in insights. Insights have to be deduced.
There’s an “aha” moment that connects other dots (that may not have been discovered during the research) but were always there. It’s unlikely the market research agency knew of the existence of those dots unless they’ve spent years on the brand or relevant category.
The connection comes in the form of an universal emotional truth, which was also so obviously always there, but no one, so far, has made the connection, yet.
Sounds complicated, but it happens in a flash. And, it invariably solves the problem.
There are now even insight generation techniques designed to engineer that flash.
But since the marketing world has made ‘insight’ its favourite buzzword, everyone is obliged to work it into everyday business conversation.
“What an insightful presentation!” Really? What problems did it solve?
“Thank you for sharing your insights”, people often write to me, and I cringe. I’ve usually just shared things they already ought to know.
When in doubt of how to impress, say “insight”, seems to be the rule of thumb.
If brand managers were so keen on finding insights, I wonder why they don’t directly engage with their consumers and prosumers. Because the chances of finding an insight do not increase with the sample size.
It increases with the level of curiosity with which you engage with the consumer you want to understand.
You don’t even need a formal questionnaire. You just need to observe.
And if you want a term that impresses, use “ethnography”.
Because that’s what this process of high quality engagement and observation is called.