Insight as fuel: bgym book post 3

This is the 3rd post on the new book, by my co-author David Nichols, who heads up our Invention practice.

Problem 1: Research ≠ Insight
Marketers often mistake market
research findings – what they hear in focus groups or the data they
read – for insight. They are looking for answers to questions (‘Should
the pack be dark blue or light blue?’) rather than searching for
inspiration and illumination (‘How do people really use packaging in
their homes?’) In contrast, an insight is an ‘Aha!’ moment: the discovery of something enlightening about your consumer that leads to action. A true insight needs to go deeper and tap into the emotions people feel, not just the things they do and say.

FocusGroup Problem 2: Over-reliance on conventional research

Millions of dollars are spent each year by corporations on market research, but much of it doesn’t generate the type of true insight described above. Many companies fall into the trap of using consumer research like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support not illumination. They commission layer after layer of dry research that no-one has the time or energy to analyse, and spend hour after hour locked in focus groups. 

Bit if we why only look in the same places with the same tools as we
always have done, we shouldn't be surprised if we don’t find something
genuinely new.

360° Insight
So, to get real insight fuel we need to go beyond just the usual suspects of Qual and Quant and use fresh techniques with fresh audiences in order to find fresh insight. Below is a whole range of different techniques that we've used on projects to uncover inspiring insights, and that are explored in detail in the new book. Here, we have time to look at one of them, experts. Warning: the example that follows is rather extreme, and not for the faint of heart…
360 Insight
Using a special type of expert consumers: Kimberly Clarke
When Kimberly Clarke wanted to create growth for their Kotex sanitary protection brand in Latin America they needed some fresh insight on menstruation. They already had mountains of research amongst the same core users as their competitors; they knew all the core needs, occasions and associated benefits of good protection. They needed a new angle on it. So we helpd them talk to a group of expert consumers… prostitutes! (We did warn you..)

For this "fringe group", feminine hygiene was clearly a big issue and their needs, techniques and relationships with sanitary protection brands were different to regular consumers. A totally fresh insight was born: menstruation is a sign of health and wellness, affirmation of true womanhood and a respite from everyday ‘duties’ – a time for recuperation and pampering. This led to innovation around the benefit of ‘time for me’ rather than ‘liberation’ where all the other brands were focused

In summary
Don’t settle of ‘more focus groups’ as the answer to your insight issues.  Look wider, talk to new people, use different techniques.  Push your team to get insight from a wide spectrum of sources. When you are next get brief our some research, make sure you are briefing something that will either fuel new thinking or ignite new ideas.  If it will just confirm what you already know, why do it?