Big marketing trends in 2023 Dive in

Thomas Carlyle said it best, “Nothing is more terrible than activity without insight.” 

Many researchers classify an insight as “a universal human truth” – something that conveys truly unique information about a target audience and potential customers. 

Meaningful consumer insights form the building blocks of any solid marketing campaign.

Even during the pandemic, brands that tapped into rapidly-shifting consumer trends, sentiment, and behavior were able to uncover meaningful analytics to help build their marketing campaigns.

For example, in Q4 2021, our data showed that 45% of consumers believed helping the environment was important, and companies responded with changes that addressed this concern.

During that time American food brand Chobani announced that it would be transitioning its oat yogurt to sustainable, paper-based packaging, a decision that directly reflected the attitude of consumers toward the environment. 

The point is, businesses need actionable insights based on market research to identify consumer sentiments, interests, and behaviors – specifically, how and why they act the way they do.  

Gathering, analyzing, and learning how to use the right data to make sure it’s actionable is one of the most important skills for marketers (and storytellers of any kind) today.

Why are consumer insights important?

Let’s put it this way: the better your consumer research and data, the better your decision-making and product development. 

Lots of brands still rely on first-party data sources like browsing habits on their website, mobile app behavior, and transaction history. The problem with this is it’s too one-sided. 

There’s nothing to back it up, validate it, or compare it against, and you usually only get to dive into the “what”, not the “why”. You know what they’re doing, but not why they’re doing it.

Coupling first-party data with rich survey data that validates everything you think you know about consumer behavior, then shows you the motivations, attitudes, and perceptions that put those behaviors into action — that’s how you’ll uncover the good stuff.

Valuable customer insights like these help paint a holistic picture of the types of consumers interested in buying from your brand. The result? You deliver impactful messages, at the right time, for the best return.

But what does it honestly take to create consumer insights that drive meaningful creativity? Let’s talk about it.

How to tap into your target audience using consumer insights:

1. Define key obstacles
2. Use actionable insights
3. Streamline your marketing strategy
4. Create personas and customer journey maps
5. Zero in on the data
6. Filter your consumers into smaller groups
7. Tell the story behind the data
8. Understand that context is king

1. Define key obstacles

Finding the right answers starts with asking the right questions during market research. Defining the key strategic business questions you need to answer is the first step to making informed business decisions.

Most marketers worth their salt will agree that to truly matter, marketing KPIs must be tied to broader business goals like helping to increase sales or focusing on customer retention. Finding answers to questions like these is key:

  • Are sales down for a particular consumer segment?
  • Is there a need to shift consumer perception about your brand?
  • Are you hoping to focus on a new target group?
  • Are you simply hoping to develop more of an understanding of your audiences?

This will help to inform your research methods from the outset, offering clear direction on what to look for and why.

“The biggest [factor to consider] is what the business is trying to achieve”, says Tom Primrose, strategic planner at indie agency Southpaw. “It’s about understanding where they’re at and where they want to go.”

2. Use actionable insights 

High-quality data is one of the most valuable commodities in a marketer’s toolkit. In contrast, dodgy data sets drain marketing resources and limit campaign effectiveness.

Unfortunately, working with data from legacy systems with no single or unified customer view isn’t exactly unknown. That’s because customer journeys are increasingly complex due to the proliferation of devices and channels, and organizational conflicts can lead to siloed data analytics and duplicate customer records across multiple databases.

But there’s a simple solution: use platforms with 100% harmonized data across audiences, regions, and marketing research waves. That way your insights will always be actionable and you’ll avoid the difficulties we mentioned above.

3. Streamline your marketing strategy

When it comes to authentic marketing strategies, simple ideas have the most impact. By focusing on the defining aspect of your consumer insight, you can hone your ideas to deliver the best possible strategy and – ultimately – customer experience.

The form insights take are different for every agency and marketing department. For Jamie Robinson, global research and insight director at WeAreSocial, they should be no more than a couple of sentences – something for creatives and marketers alike to continually refer back to.

The result helps keep their efforts on track, leading to an impactful campaign bred from a simple idea. Robinson explains, “The insight is typically no more than two sentences that you can stick on the wall. This helps to describe the interpersonal truth that we want our idea to hook onto.”

Keeping the focus on consumer sentiment, perception, or attitude will help creatives tap into the mindset of potential and existing customers, and leverage the fundamental truth that’s been uncovered.

4. Create personas and customer journey maps

Sifting through market research and customer data looking for the things that stick out is the next key step to getting to that truth.

Using in-depth data to understand who customers are, what motivates them, what their priorities are, and what daily challenges they face is how you can find the deeper insights that hit home.

Start by drafting real-life buyer personas that bring your demographics to life.

Based on these you can map the consumer journeys you want to track and the touchpoints involved – meaning you’ll know exactly how your consumers interact with your brand.  

For Joe Portman and Sharmin Rashed, junior strategists at independent agency Analog Folk, journey maps play a central role in their efforts to get the level of audience understanding they need.

“There’s the consumer journey that maps the purchase journey, but there’s also the day-to-day of that consumer’s life which influences every part of that journey”, says Joe. 

“Not only do the clients love to see journey maps, it helps everyone from the creatives to ourselves to better understand our audiences”, adds Sharmin.

5. Zero in on the data

The next step is figuring out what feelings, perceptions, and trends you can use to transform the consumer insight into a creative message.

Your idea can take on a new lease of life depending on what you discover in the data.

Delta Airlines is a good example of how to do this. The brand is on a mission to connect with its environmentally-friendly audience and demonstrate its credentials to consumers. They’ve built a sustainability hub that lays out their game plan to create a more sustainable future in the aviation industry.  

Their effort matches up with our USA Plus data that shows 46% of Americans think sustainability is very important.

By putting this data-driven approach into practice, brands like Delta Airlines are building a marketing strategy that reflects the trends and social issues consumers care about.

And the result — for brands that do it right —is a message that truly resonates.

6. Filter your consumers into smaller groups

Some data is easier to use when it’s connected to certain segments or individuals. 

Choose which target market segments to study based on your goals. Are you trying to appeal to a new audience, for example, or to drive loyalty among your existing customer base?

Grouping personas and demographics with common attributes like age, gender, and interests can give you a deeper understanding of their motivations. It can also help build the level of empathy you need to drive meaningful engagement.

You’ll also be able to identify lookalike audiences to broaden your reach or understand the right influencers, platforms, and content types to focus on.

7. Tell the story behind the data

Consumer insights aren’t just for researchers. The fundamental truths behind your audience help you make targeted business decisions and keep customers – and the customer experience – at the forefront of your thinking.

But masses of data can be overwhelming, especially to those who don’t work with it daily.

This is why presenting your most relevant findings in an accessible way is key.

Using visual aids like graphs and charts helps bring stats to life, while homing in on the consumer insights they’ve led you to help you tell the story behind your data and spark innovative ideas that work.

8. Understand that context is king

Consumer insights on their own can’t achieve much. Their real value comes when they’re applied to your own goals, coupled with behavioral data, to pinpoint the right message, timing, and placement of marketing messages.

Working with multiple departments is the key when it comes to unlocking this value.

Working with other consumer-facing colleagues across teams and departments, and combining what they know with in-depth consumer data, means you can paint a more detailed picture and trigger great ideas.

Drawing inspiration from powerful examples of brands that are putting consumer insights into practice is one way to spark these ideas.

A great example: 1Password

In a recent campaign, password-managing brand 1Password enlisted Ryan Reynolds, Wrexham Football Club’s co-owner, to spread the word about online privacy to his new team.

This ad takes a playful approach to the very serious conversation around cybersecurity, and the concerns among consumers and businesses. 

Although the tone is lighthearted, the message is important – especially when cybercrime is projected to cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. 

1Password was able to capitalize on this data to put a spotlight on a need their audience didn’t even know it was overlooking. With less than 1 in 4 consumers saying they use a password manager and just 1 in 4 tech decision makers saying that enhancing security is a key initiative for driving growth in the next year, this ad was exactly what consumers need to see. 

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