Uncovering Game Changing Market Insights

Why was it that when Apple introduced the first iPod in October 2001 they would go on to experience game changing success and revolutionize the way we prefer to listen to music? It’s not that they invented MP3 players; in fact, the first player was introduced three years earlier. What Apple did that made all the difference was to incorporate some invaluable insights into the design and function of the iPod that resonated with the public. They simplified the product, made it incredibly intuitive and easy to use, and gave it a stylish look with those iconic white ear buds.

We would all love to have an Apple-like story, wouldn’t we? Whether intentional or not the most successful companies are those that tap into one or more consumer insights. If you want to intentionally uncover game-changing insights all you need to do is look around you –– they are everywhere just waiting to be seen. Some are as apparent as seeing the forest through the trees. The secret is to think globally, and then filter the insights down to your category.

Where to Look

You can look all around you and find insights into human behavior, desires and motivations. Some of my favorite sources include popular entertainment, news & mindset lists, and of all things, comedians.

Popular Entertainment –– This time of year, there is no shortage of top 10 to 100 lists of the past year’s most popular songs, movies, books and entertainers. These lists provide fruitful data to be mined for insights. Entertainers relay back to us how we feel. Song lyrics, movie story lines and TV show content all speak to the topics that are relevant to the American public.

Current Mindset –– Taking the temperature of the public at large is also a good way to determine what is currently motivating people. Look to the top news stories over the past three to six months. In addition to this, one of my favorite sources for revealing insights is the Beloit College mindset list. It’s a list of random facts about the graduating class of students that pertain to the world as they knew it growing up. These random facts help to determine how they perceive the world around them and affect the choices they make. There are several lists going back for years for those looking for mindsets of older target groups.

Comedians –– I started looking to comedians for insights after reading Jerry Seinfeld’s’ book Sein Language. Some of his humor just sounded so honest to me. It occurred to me that if it’s really funny then it’s most likely true. There is an entertaining YouTube clip for example, of a mom singing about her daily life to the tune of the William Tell Overture. This woman has synthesized in just a few short minutes some of the most common frustrations mothers face every day.

What to Do with What You Find

I’m sure by now you’re thinking, well that’s all fine and great but what the heck do I do with all this random information? I’ll illustrate for you what to do by giving you an example of a project I worked on about seven years ago for Nestlé USA:

Nestlé makes an instant coffee known as Nescafé. For the project we were asked to make Nescafé relevant to consumers. Our target consumers were between the ages of 18-30. After looking around and trying to uncover insights we found the following (abbreviated list) of random facts:

  • Computers have always fit in their backpacks
  • They have always grazed for food
  • There have always been ATM machines
  • Around the clock coverage of news has always been available on cable
  • They have always been able to afford Calvin Klein
  • They never dressed up for a plane flight
  • They have never used a bottle of “White Out”
  • “Spam” and “cookies” are not necessarily foods
  • They feel more danger from having sex and being in school, than from a possible nuclear war
  • They are less cynical and more socially conscious
  • They prefer direct, action, humor, irony, truth and things that are “cool”
  • They influence and are influenced by their friends and brands

From these random facts (among others) as well as census data, these insights were defined:

I wish there was something to help me make the most of my time.

I want to be in control and have freedom of choice!

Next we had to relate the insights for this target to our product — instant coffee. Our solution was to create a pressed coffee bean in a variety of flavors that could be combined with other beans to customize the final taste to suit the specific consumer’s needs. It was fast, convenient, and customizable. When tested among consumers it was a success. We had tapped into their needs for this specific product.

Unfortunately, Nestlé did not move forward with our recommendation, but that doesn’t defray from the soundness of the insights that fostered the idea. Today, the popular single-cup coffee makers that accommodate the several different drink preferences in one household is very similar to the product we recommended in its fundamental purpose.

It seems like a lot of work, but those who are diligent and go about this exercise will find their products and services are met with greater success. Apple’s iPod was a tremendous success. Even so, Steve Jobs is quoted saying, “Customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them.” He didn’t believe in market research. I agree with his point in that you can’t directly ask someone what they want. That said, I would argue that you can’t determine what to “show” them unless you truly understand their needs. For the majority of us that involves research. Fortunately for Apple, Steve Jobs had a natural intuitive sense for what people wanted.


About Insights Discovered
Penny Redlin is a regular contributor to the “Business Sense” feature on The Giggle Guide®, sharing insights about business planning, effective communications and marketing strategies.

Based in Las Vegas, Nevada, Insights Discovered was founded by Penny Redlin in an effort to share her professional expertise within the children’s product category. The company’s mission is to give every mompreneur an opportunity for success. Insights Discovered exclusively services children’s products brands. The specific industry focus demonstrates a strong dedication to the unique needs of children’s products companies. Insights Discovered offers strategic planning, market research and traditional marketing services.

For more information, visit www.insightsdiscovered.com or call 702.218.5707.

Related Tags

News Section