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Consumer Insights - What they Are and What They Mean

Updated on July 6, 2012

The reason strategic planning exists is to discover consumer insights about your target audience. Since there is a lot of variability surrounding the definition and use of insights we will go ahead and define the term as:

Unique characteristics of your target audience that determine buying behavior.

The operative words in this sentence are “unique” and “determine.” While single consumer groups can have multiple insights and similar (or identical for that matter) insights can exists among different groups, there are only a handful (at best) that actually distinguish your consumer group from anther. And of that handful, there may be only one or two that you can actually use when developing a marketing strategy. These characteristics are the ones you are going for.

Just like there is a difference between important and determinant attributesfor products and services, there is a difference between important and determinant insights. As a planner, it is your job to identify which insights are determinant to a consumer’s decision to purchase a product. Once you decide upon your most powerful insight you can leverage it to articulate your value proposition.

Some Examples


Problem: A grocery store wants to promote their supply of fresh fruit.

Target: Females, ages 35-50, matriarchs

Insight: Consumers are willing to pay more for fruit they believe is fresh.


Problem: A local movie theater wants to increase overall customers amid competition from larger chain theaters.

Target: Cinephiles, all adult ages

Insight: Consumers can watch a movie anywhere, the reason they go to movie theaters is for the experience.

Some Explanations

From example 1, while there are plenty of reasons people buy fruit (price, proximity, taste, etc.), a further look into the target audience reveals that the primary determinant factor in females of that age range’s decision to buy fruit stems from their need of perceived freshness. Knowing the insight, it is easy to solve this problem; the grocery store must actually provide fresh fruit and promote it using a marketing campaign that touts the reasons their fruit is the freshest.

From example 2, understanding this insight creates much opportunity for the local movie theater because they now know that people determine which movie theater to attend based on the experience it provides. Because they are local, the smaller movie theater can actually provide a better consumer experience via the familiar, personal feel it projects compared to the generic experience of a chain theater.

This is just a brief overview of what insights are and how they exist within the grand scheme of planning. If you have any questions please leave them in the comments section.


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