How to Generate Consumer Insights

Ray is the Director of Vision Critical University, the author of 
The Handbook of Online and Social Media Research, the creator of, and is in 
constant demand as a conference speaker, contributing author, workshop leader, and advisor.
Seven Tips for Creating Insights
The research game has changed. In the past,market research focused on collecting data and delivering information. Research still needs to collect data, but it needs to deliver insight. So, here are seven tips for creating insights.

1.Identify and clarify the ‘real’ question. Knowing the right question is half way to solving the problem. To find out the real question you will normally need to talk to the relevant people; asking them questions like “What would success look like?” and “What actions would you like to take once you have this answer?”

2. Find out what is known and what is available. It is likely there are multiple sources of information including market research, reports, transactional data, corporate knowledge, social media and much more. Any new research should work with what is already known. 

3. Find out what people expect the results to be. Finding this out has two benefits, 1) you can test (confirm or refute) these beliefs during the research and analysis, 2) you will need to know these so that you can properly understand if your results are bad news or good news.

4. Know whether your results are good news or bad news. Almost all research should produce a result that is either good or bad, if you don’t know whether the result is good or bad (or good with caveats or bad with some elements of a silver lining), you probably do not know the ‘real’ question. The way you deliver good and bad news is different, the storytelling is different, and the amount of additional material needed is different. Whether a result is good or bad news depends on the information found and what people wanted the information to say.

5. Focus on the big story before diving into the weeds. Find out what most people think, before looking at segments, which brands/concepts do best and which do worst; get a feeling for all the strong messages.

6. Don’t tell the client everything you know, tell the answer to their problem. All the rest of the findings can be made available, but focus on what they want/need to know.

7. Create a story that when simplified is still correct. If the story is that 90% of people like your new product, that will simplify to ‘Most people like your product’ – no problem. If the story is that 10% of women like your product and 20% of men like it, then it will simplify down to ‘This is good for men’ – which is a bad simplification as it ignores 80% of men who do not like it.

Bonus TipIf you are delivering bad news, do not rely on just the facts. In order to change somebody’s mind you will need to tackle the situation at both the emotional level and the factual level. I often start the presentation with a point where the client accepts the findings and build from there. For example, consider the cases where a client thinks 80% of men will like this new product and I find just 10% like it. I might start by talking about the men who like it, why they like it etc. Then I say that whilst these men may have been visible in the previous research it turns out they are just 10% of the population. Then I would go on to look at the bigger picture and provide my recommendations. By structuring my story this way I do not have to start with some version of ‘You are wrong!”
Also, here are some good reasons, why you should consider converting you customer list into an insights community to start creating insights.