Expert View

Are your insights transformational?

Companies need insights to help them achieve growth by transforming the relevance and value of their brand, otherwise the opportunity now afforded by economic recovery could be wasted. Kay McCarthy Founder and Managing Director of MCCP – The Planning Agency explains.

If you think about the changing dynamics in the drinks market over the past five years – the rise of craft beers and whiskeys and the changing role of the pub, for example – it points to the fact that today’s consumer – who lives in a hyper-connected society – wants quality drinks and environments that reflect their needs, they want brands that understand their needs.

The Millennial consumer (born in the 1980s-2000) wants local and authentic brands of quality. They like ‘smaller’ producers as it gives them something authentic to connect with, away from the globalised digital world that they inhabit.

They want value over price and experiences over products. This is why we see more craft brands – locally-produced craft whiskeys work well for this cohort. Orchard Thieves, for example, offered them a new take on cider which reversed many of the more traditional norms in cider so that they could have more spontaneous experiences.

This consumer wants to try new brands and products and those brands who use social media reassure them more. The pub of today and tomorrow therefore needs to understand these needs so that they can deliver the right experience, range and communications. Insight will be important for all business owners so they can remain relevant.


Definition of transformational insight

The concept of an insight has been around for a long time and it’s often over-used to define a bunch of things including observations into behaviours and facts.

At MCCP, we define an insight as a penetrating truth that will unlock growth: ‘penetrating’ so it’s enduring, ‘truth’ so it’s effective and must unlock growth, meaning that it has the capability to generate growth once acted upon.

This kind of transformational insight requires a new mindset of doing something transformative, not simply creating reflective activity.

In order to unlock growth, there are two important things a brand must do. Firstly, get an insight that’s capable of transforming your brand. Secondly, be ready to act on it to create new value that’s relevant to your consumer by transforming how they use you for their betterment and yours; this will release your brand to become useful, valuable and loved.

Today, we’ve lots more data on behaviour but this does not mean we understand consumers any better. Due to the abundance of data available to brands today, people believe they’re learning more and more about their customers. However, as Charles Kettering, the American inventor and businessman, said, “There is a great difference between knowing and understanding: You can know a lot about something and not really understand it”.

Many brands believe that the data they have at their disposal is giving them new insights; however, it can also add layers of confusion, leading people to reach the wrong conclusion.

Data, if you have it, is a good starting point but the real magic is the interpretation of data and understanding the underlying motivations, often delivered through qualitative techniques overlaid on it.

If you meet a data scientist, ask her or him when last they spoke to a human to get behind the data; otherwise you’ll only end up creating reflective activity and not really move the dial to grow your brand substantially.

Our clients come to us to create strategies for growth. In a growth market strategy, brands need to widen penetration and therefore need to look beyond their existing client base to reach new customers and do something that’s going to make them stop and think “This is the brand for me” – something that stands for what they believe in; something that you can do and that’s relevant to them as consumers and as individuals. Deciding who you talk to is core. Forget entrenched consumers if you want to grow; focus on lighter occasional and non-users but ‘near-users’ to identify their barriers and category pain points so that you can get the transformational insight.


The MCCP path to transformational insight

The answer is not data scientists, it’s more about a systematic process of discovery and Immersion by multi-skilled teams with an innovative mindset. To truly uncover these insights, it’s necessary to adopt a process.

Here at MCCP, for example, we have created a five-stage process which enables us to dig deeper and uncover these game-changing insights.

This approach has proven successful for some very big brands where we led the creation of their brand strategies in recent times: Orchard Thieves, Heineken, Aer Lingus, Wild Atlantic Way and Smurfit Kappa.

The five-stage process starts with creating a multi-skilled team with researchers who can use data and qualitative insight, strategists and marketing experts.

The second step adopts an innovative mindset to find ways to uncover human needs and motivations.

Thirdly, a layered methodological approach to unlocking behaviours uses behavioural data and information, qualitative deep-dives with consumers and special techniques to understand underlying motivations.

The fourth stage utilises a filtering and crafting process to create the insight and build the story to lead to the transformation.

Finally – but essentially – the internal programme of immersion ensures everyone in the organisation can feel and be fully conversant with the consumer and this insight so that it results in creating a new understanding in the organisation and the necessary shift in mindset to lead to transformative outcomes.

To create transformative outcomes, you must start by creating a shift in how your entire organisation understands the consumer insight.

Consumer insight should not only dictate how you interact with your consumers it should also affect how you function as a business, not only in terms of communications but also, potentially, in terms of how you work, yielding better cultures and vastly improved sales figures.

It’s not just about knowing, it’s about understanding what to do with it. When you immerse everyone in this process, you’ll create endless possibilities for your brand.


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