No need to state the obvious
You’re in a client session, crafting ideas into concepts. You’ve been generating ideas and now it’s time to write them into consumer-facing concepts.
There are 15 people attempting to craft the sentiment that will spell success or failure for this new idea. And the concept will be tested in a market for which none of you speak the language.
‘What’s the insight?’ someone provokes. You spend the rest of the session debating how your hypothesised consumer might seek to express their purported frustration, and bullet pointing the benefits.
Does this sound familiar?
Why do we waste our time searching for the perfectly crafted‘insight’to present to target consumers in research? Spending our time wordsmith-ing concepts to ensure the right degree of tension – not too niche to polarise, nor too broad to erode the tension – which will set the honey-trap to spring-open our consumers’ purses, and send sales exponentially North. More often than not, this ‘insight’ is watered down to an observational truth along the lines of ‘Wouldn’t it be great if…’ – destined not to offend, but nor to excite.
Why does the insight even need to appear on a consumer facing concept? Consumers and shoppers don’t see insights at the supermarket aisle; there is not an insight floating ethereally above a product on the shelf when they make a decision.
Recently, I’ve even spotted TV ads (namely of European origin) whose voice-over commentary reads like a consumer-facing concept board, ‘I still remember my first visit to my favourite caramel store’ (how many of us know of a caramel store let alone have a favourite?) to ‘I wish there was a way I could exchange my old phone for cash’. This is just lazy marketing. It’s not clever, and it suggests that if you need to pad out the idea with a consumer narrative, you haven’t nailed the true product benefit that makes your product better or unique.
Surely our focus should instead be on the benefits we are delivering to consumers? After-all, the benefits of a product or service are why consumers’ purchase a product. Experience with consumer research tells us that what consumers say is very different to what shoppers do. Yet what is important to both consumer and shopper, and least open to influence, are needs; and benefits satisfy needs.
Don’t get me wrong – insights are extremely useful. Insights help us to understand which benefits we need to deliver in a new product or service in order to satisfy needs or influence behaviour change better than the competition. However, once we’ve identified the need, we shouldn’t have to state this in clunky prose on a concept board if we’ve done our homework properly.
It is ensuring consumers understand the benefits of a concept that is pertinent to a new idea’s success outside the research facility.
Moreover, what if your concept satisfies needs in a way the consumer has not yet engaged? We recently tested concepts for a well-known household care brand that simple read ‘It’s an X (DESCRIPTION) that does Y (BENEFIT)’. These concepts we’re completely foreign to anything currently in the category, yet they tested extremely well. Why? Because we allowed the respondents to establish relevance to the product benefit and own their needs, on their own. We didn’t tell them WHY they might need this product – they grasped this on their own terms. And as a result were more engaged by the ideas.
Insights give us a hypothesis about why something happens or someone behaves, and should lead to a commercial opportunity. They should be an internal litmus test to a good idea – ultimately, do the benefits of this concept satisfy my consumers’ needs and desires?
So rather than focusing our time on engineering the perfect concept prose, we should invest our time and money creating real consumer benefits that drive greater category engagement and innovation.
If your product solves a real consumer need, there’s no need to state the obvious. Benefits are where it’s at – that’s the true insight.
By Dani Roberts, Consultant at Clear Europe