Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The way we derive and define insights in the marketing world should keep up with changes in technology. Traditional market research is unlikely to do the job of providing a genuine interpretation of human behaviour – for this, brands need to get closer to consumers, stop asking them meaningless questions and start engaging them in conversations.

At the recent Integrated Marketing Communication conference held in Midrand, founder of Have You Heard, Ryan McFadyen, explained that the challenge presented by traditional research is that the way it approaches and collects insights has not evolved at the same speed as technology. Insights, he said, are key, as they define where all marketing efforts will have an impact. Insights are more than observations or data, and to provide brand value they should not only be accurate but provide a deep understanding about a single individual or a group of people. Market research needs new head space to become more agile and experimental.

The big take-out:

Insights have evolved, and if marketers are to gain access to valuable insights that lead to understanding consumers better, their research methods should allow for engaging conversations with cultural movements and social tribes.

Technological changes affect social context, which in turn alters the interpretation of meaning as well as value and impact, he said. Research methodologies that remain current are important for allowing marketers to tap into the subconscious drivers of behaviour to gain a deeper understanding of consumers and to increase the speed at which information is collected to ensure actionable, real-time insights.

So here’s how insights have evolved. First, the “sample” is dead. “Gender, race, age and socio-economic positions are no longer what we use to define people. People are multifaceted and form distinct segments or social groups, which we call tribes,” McFadyen said.  Examples of social tribes include influencers, new age hipsters, sneakerheads and foodies.

Next, he said, it’s time to stop asking consumers questions. They don’t think about brands, so asking them questions about what they have been drinking for the past six months does little to enhance brand value. Research methods, McFadyen added, should evolve to facilitate conversations with consumers and tap into their subconscious, which will provide cues to relevant insights – the “whys” that have the potential to predict trends and influence behaviour.

He concluded by saying that cultural insights are the most important. “We determine cultural insights by allowing people to talk about themselves instead of simply asking them questions about brands. These insights ultimately allow us to understand what drives their passion points and motivations,” he said. Moreover, brands should be targeting cultural movements, engaging with smaller communities of people that are easier to activate and allow for quicker go-to-market strategies.

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