Consumer Insight That's Out of Sight: Part 1

Author: Steve Sturges
Posted: Oct 21, 2019

We live in a world where we elevate the small things to big things. Where the irrelevant sometimes rises to be critically important. Call it a byproduct of sculpted social media profiles, 24-hour news channels, the belief that our opinion should never be questioned, the advent of the ‘everybody gets a trophy’ generation. 

As a result, we are misusing language. Or, in some cases, we aren’t using words in the right context. For instance, in marketing, the word “brand” has been watered down or greatly misinterpreted. Some think it’s a logo. Others think it’s simply what the public thinks about you.


The result of this misunderstanding can cost companies millions in potential profits and, perhaps even more important, their reputation.

Insight is a word I hear my colleagues throw around with great frequency.

As it applies to marketing, there are as many as 9 types of insight: consumer, cultural, product, brand, purchase, future, usage, owner and market. Each is related and has the power to influence the other. For this blog series, I am focusing on just one type: consumer insight. For the purpose of brevity, I’ll simply use the word “insight” going forward.

To start, I think it helps to paint the big picture. I found two quotes extremely helpful. The first: “People don’t want a ¼ inch drill, they want a ¼ inch hole.” Theodore Levitt, A Harvard Professor in American Economics and Business, coined this phrase in his timeless paper called Marketing Myopia. Levitt understood the need to focus on consumer needs rather than product attributes. His quote begs the question: what are we really doing for the customer? This question underscores the need to develop proper insights.

A second quote is apropos when considering the mountain of data we have at our fingertips, “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it’s been”. Wayne Gretsky gets the credit for this quote and, he would know. He’s arguably the greatest hockey player ever. Quantitative data is great at analyzing where we’ve been. But, past performance is not always a great predictor of future events. Future events are where the ‘puck is going’. Again, insight can only be developed by looking at a number of things. Or as we like to put it, insight is best found by applying a multi-dimensional view.

If you struggle finding insight, take comfort. You’re not alone. Insights can be incredibly hard to uncover. Once you find one, you feel like you’ve discovered gold. And, you probably have.

During this blog series, we will show some of the most common mistakes people make in their insight journey. We’ll also talk about our brains, our physiology and how we must have a working knowledge of neuroscience before we can really uncover meaningful insight. Finally, we’ll talk about how insight development can elevate or devastate an industry. In a nutshell, insights change things.

Read more insightful marketing tips on insight from Steve Sturges in part two of this blog series here. 

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