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What’s an Insight?

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Some planners refer to themselves as customer insight researchers and the best marketing is often said to come from a great customer insight. But is a customer insight?

Henry Lambert
  • 9 february 2007

Some planners refer to themselves as customer insight researchers and the best marketing is often said to come from a great customer insight. But is a customer insight?

Jeffre Jackson
, former head of planning at W+K Amsterdam isn’t quite sure.

“But now, after years of pretending to be a planner, I’m finally prepared to admit that I’ve never really understood what an insight is.

“I imagine the gold standard for this kind of insight is something like, “Hip German mothers are meeting on particular subway lines in the middle of night for impromptu diaper changing parties.”

“Maybe an insight isn’t a new piece of information, but a new way of interpreting existing information. The effect is not so much “I never knew that” as “I never thought of it that way before”. Which implies that the insight, as the thing that changes minds, needs to be communicated to the audience, not simply used as a way to get to them or prove that the brand somehow “knows” them.”

One of the great thing about blogging is that the comments often help to answer the question. Amelia says

“I was lucky enough to work with Jon Steel when I was living in New York. We were working on a Pfizer allergy pitch. Jon always talked about the difference between passive observations and active insights. In this case a passive observation was that people feel really shitty when their allergies play up, whereas an active insight would be that most people tend to put up and shut up, but once they think about the impact that their allergies have on others they start to re-think.”

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