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Published February 7th 2024

Understanding Consumer Insights: A Comprehensive Guide

Uncover consumer insights to understand why customers behave like they do and elevate your brand.

Running any successful business without consumer insights is like going on a mountain hike without a map. You know how to walk and can follow a trail, but you’re not prepared for what’s around the corner.

Consumer insights help you map out business decisions. Whether you're a multinational conglomerate or a downtown sandwich store, using consumer behavior insights helps shape your next steps more than anything else.

For example, 39% of consumers say the hassle of standing in longer lines puts them off shopping in-store. However, 40% of consumers are also prepared to shop in-store because online delivery costs are too high. With insights like this, stores can come up with solutions to keep consumers happy depending on which group their audience belongs to. Perhaps by streamlining the in-store checkout system or by cutting delivery costs.

Understanding why your customers do what they do and think what they think is important for planning your future business decisions.

You can do all the market research you want ahead of launching new products and ad campaigns. Yet without consumer insights, it's almost impossible to look forward and tailor your brand to your desired audience. You’re hiking without a map.

In this guide, we’ll explain what consumer insights are and what to do with your data. Learn the difference between consumer insights and market research, and see how online consumer insights can transform your business. 

What are consumer insights?

The importance of consumer insights

Consumer insights in action

Different types of consumer insights

Consumer insights process

What are consumer insights?

Consumer insights are the analysis and interpretation of feedback and data related to consumer behavior, preferences, trends, and motivations. The aim is to understand why consumers do what they do and think what they think.

The process involves collecting and examining information about audiences to understand their actions and attitudes.

Unilever, for example, discovered online conversations around Ben & Jerry's ice cream peaked on Thursday and Friday, while sales spiked on Saturdays. They, therefore, decided to only run commercial campaigns from Wednesday to Saturday, reducing ad spending on days when customers weren’t thinking about ice cream.

Insights like this are used by businesses to deepen their understanding of their target audience and guide marketing strategies, product development, and overall business decisions.

By using consumer insight software like Brandwatch, it’s possible to identify patterns, predict future behavior, and tailor products to meet the evolving needs and desires of consumers.

Consumer insights vs. market research

Consumer insights are different from market research, but the two work together to provide businesses with an overarching view of their audience.

You might say that market research focuses on what is happening within an audience. It looks at market size, competitors, the needs of the audience, and the types of customers within it. It is the groundwork required to build a marketing or brand strategy.

Consumer insights, then, take market research one step further. It looks at why the market is shaped like it is and why audiences interact with certain brands and not others. Not only do you gather data, but you create a narrative around it.

Conducting consumer insights analysis means you can launch more effective campaigns, products, and systems that meet the needs of your audience.

Case study example: Singaporean tech collective TSL Media Group wanted to advertise the latest Huawei P40 Pro features to as wide an audience as possible. Using Brandwatch’s consumer intelligence solution, they found a disconnect between Gen Z and millennials (zillennials) and their grandparents. The research showed zillennials spend less time with their grandparents because they’re less tech-savvy. So, TSL launched an ad campaign where zillennials showed their elders how to use Huawei’s new phone. The campaign successfully brought together two vastly different audiences, appealing to both.

The importance of consumer insights

Consumer insights are crucial for shaping marketing campaigns – yet they do more than just that. Businesses can use consumer insights for every stage of the customer journey. They’re useful when seeking new audiences and when trying to keep existing customers happy.

Here are some consumer insights examples that highlight its importance for the understanding of customers:

  • Consumer insights shape marketing strategies

Your marketing strategy can only go so far without consumer insights. Being able to know why an audience thinks and behaves like it does means you can align a strategy to complement those attitudes.

  • Consumer insights improve brand perception

Obtaining insights into consumers gives businesses the opportunity to align their brand’s values with its audience. This improves brand perception and aids the consideration stage of the customer journey.

  • Consumer insights spot industry trends

Get ahead of your competitors by spotting industry trends through the data consumers and audiences provide. Then get ahead of the trend with new marketing and product launches.

  • Consumer insights improve products

Understand what your customers think and feel about your products. Get insights into what needs to be improved and how you can evolve to stay ahead of your competitors.

  • Consumer insights help streamline processes and boost efficiency

Discover where your business processes are falling short and where you can be more efficient. Consumers are never shy to tell you what they think when there’s a problem. So, use consumer insights data to improve how you do things. 

  • Consumer insights improve customer care 

Get feedback on how you deal with customers throughout the customer journey and make improvements. Samsung, for example, uses Brandwatch consumer insights data to monitor potential crises, respond in the right way, and improve overall customer satisfaction.

Consumer insights in action

In 1985, UK biscuit producer McVitie's wanted to expand its market share. It was already selling millions of digestive and rich tea biscuits each day across the country. These biscuits were great for dunking in cups of tea, and internal market research suggested consumers were happy. They didn't want change.

But McVitie’s realized they were asking the wrong question. Rather than quizzing consumers on what they wanted to change, they asked them what was bad about rich teas and digestives.

The feedback was eye-opening. Consumers already happy with their biscuit choice revealed they would prefer crumblier biscuits with a homemade feel. McVitie's responded by creating the Hobnob, an instant classic that, thanks to consumer insights, helped the company become the dominant biscuit seller in the UK.

Different types of consumer insights

Now we know why consumer insights are important, it’s time to look at the types of consumer insights available to businesses. There are three core sources of consumer insight analytics that can be used individually or together to shape your business plans.

Social data

Social media provides businesses with honest, unsolicited customer feedback that is invaluable for understanding audiences. You can either monitor direct social feedback, or use social media listening tools to hear what people are saying about you when interacting with other users.

By using social media consumer insights you can get reliable, real-time data on your brand perception and user sentiment. It's also easier to spot trends and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Read more about extracting consumer insights from social data here. 

Public online data

There is a lot of data out there available to the public that often goes overlooked. Use reviews, blogs, annual reports, and even news stories to gain an understanding of your customer base.

Public online data is often unfiltered and brutally honest. It shapes purchase decisions and brand perception. Collecting public data to determine how your brand is perceived is crucial to how you proceed with future decisions.

Enterprise data

Enterprise data is the information a business collects from customers and shares across its departments. It includes things like call transcripts, CRM data, email correspondence, and client profile research.

By using enterprise data, you can connect the dots between what customers think and how they behave. Find purchasing trends based on customers' home addresses; understand attitudes towards your brand via tone analysis from customer service recordings; spot where potential buyers walk away in the customer journey.

Combined, social, public, and enterprise data will generate the consumer insights you need to move forward and shape your future business decisions.

Consumer insights process

To benefit from the power of consumer insights, you must map out how you will obtain the data you need. From there, you can strategize on using the data to your advantage.

Below is a quick three-step process for acquiring, analyzing, and applying consumer insights: 

Acquiring consumer insights

As discussed above, you can acquire customer insights from social, public, and enterprise data. Think about how to obtain insights from all three sources.

If you are active on social media or want to use social media consumer insights to shape your business strategy, it’s worth using a solution like Brandwatch to gather your required info.

Tap into trends, see what people are saying about your product, and collect the data on one platform. G2 Esports, for example, used Brandwatch's social listening platform to acquire data and monitor online conversations around esports. From there, they could analyze and eventually apply what they learned to future strategy decisions.

If you work within a large company, then sharing enterprise data can be an ideal first step to acquiring crucial customer insights. Likewise, doing a bit of digging into public data can result in the acquisition of thousands of data points. You may find what you’re looking for at government agencies and academic institutions.

It’s also becoming more common to use AI to seek out consumer insights, collect the results, and begin analyzing from there. AI can be particularly useful for public data that is not necessarily open to the public or easily accessible.

Analyzing consumer insights

Once you’ve acquired your consumer insights, it’s time to analyze the data. This can be difficult if you have thousands or even millions of data points. Before social media, much of the consumer insight stats available to businesses came from their own active research, surveys, and analysis of the customer journey.

These days, you can analyze social, enterprise, and public data in one place. Brandwatch, for example, allows users to source social data and input other data points to create a holistic view of an audience.

Using Explore, you can analyze your customers and pick out trends, perceptions, demographics, and other insights that affect your business.

Consumer insight analysis is only as good as your acquisition. So, if you’re not getting the answers you want from the data you acquired, jump back a step and get more data!

Book your Brandwatch Consumer Research demo to see how you can transform your business.

Applying consumer insights

Armed with your analysis, you can begin applying what you’ve learned. It may be that you need to:

  • Improve or change your products to suit your customers
  • Redesign your brand to boost your presence in the market
  • Restructure your customer service

Whatever you need to do, applying consumer insights can take time. It may require you to discuss your newfound data with other teams within your business so they’re on board with what you want to do.

If there’s pushback, then remember that you’ve collected the data that proves change is needed. A tool like Brandwatch can help you present this data in clear, understandable terms.

Applying consumer insights needs a strategy, whether it’s a brand awareness campaign or a push to launch a revamped product. Your insight analysis is what helps shape this strategy, but you also need to bear in mind:

  • Budget – Can you afford to implement the changes your insights have uncovered?
  • Capacity – Do you or your team have the time and skills to implement changes?
  • Buy-in – Are all decision-makers and stakeholders on board?

Case Study: Fetch Rewards, America's No. 1 consumer-rewards app, realized it wasn’t getting the full picture on how online consumers related to its brand. It created its own Consumer Insights team which, using social listening data acquired with Brandwatch, mapped out user sentiment. Fetch Rewards analyzed social media conversations around its 2021 back-to-school campaign and found spikes of positive activity directed to its partner Twitter account @FetchTeach. This inspired Fetch’s broader social team to look into how it could become more involved in teacher-related conversations throughout the year, not just during the back-to-school weeks.

Are you ready to get to know your consumers better?

If you’re looking to understand your customers better but don’t know where to begin then we can help. Brandwatch can take you through the entire consumer insights journey, from initial data acquisition through to project execution, and map out each step.

It’s how we helped L’Oriel expand its market share in Indonesia. Combining datasets and sourcing fresh data was just the start, as we guided L’Oriel through trend spotting analysis and, eventually, improving its customer experience.

Want to know more? Book a meeting with one of our experts today and see how Brandwatch can guide you through the consumer insights journey!

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