5 ways consumer insights will improve your brand
Working with consumer insights is the process of learning from your marketplace, to help you create a better customer experience. In the context of branding, it’s an important part of the dialogue you have with your customers, and involves asking a number of key questions.
Our Social Media Trends 2021 Report, in partnership with HubSpot, interviewed 70+ marketing and PR professionals to find the top trends for next year.
Consumer insights- key questions
- What do you like about our brand?
- What are we doing right?
- What could we improve?
- What do you like about our competitors?
- What’s important to you right now?
While you aren’t necessarily asking these questions directly, the insights you gather through various methods are your attempts to answer them. In essence, consumer insight gathering can be summed up as the process by which you can better understand people.
The answers to these questions give you a more informed go-to-market strategy. More importantly, consumer insights help you create deeper relationships with the people who find value in what you offer.
Ultimately, consumer insights will help you solve a number of key problems for your customers, including:
- Making life easier
- Making things more interesting
- Providing value
- Solving real-world problems
If you start with these aims in mind, the process by which you gather information on your marketplace becomes a honed and targeted process that generates actual results.
How to gather consumer insights
Insights can come from outreach that you initiate, like surveys, polls, or analytics on your own content and social posts. Here, you can track the engagement on existing campaigns and see which content is more informative and valuable to your consumers. Then, you can learn and double-down, or re-strategize.
In addition, insight can come from sources of data not initiated directly by you. Social listening is a prime example of just how much information can be gathered through user-generated content, opinion, and any expression online that could be used to inform your approach.
How consumer insights will help your marketing
1. Improve your customer journey
As we’ve mentioned elsewhere, the customer journey is about the stages of engagement a customer goes through, from awareness of your brand, to taking action and making a decision to buy.
Stages of the customer journey.
Consumer insights help you reduce friction between these stages - or eliminate stages altogether. In essence, effective branding is about making people aware of who you are, showing that you can give value, and proving that you’re reliable.
Understanding the core motivations of your customers is therefore an important way to improve your customer journey across these variables.
2. Strengthen customer picture
Building up a detailed and segmented model of your customer base is invaluable. Understanding who your customers are, then creating personas that match those profiles, helps you to focus your marketing efforts and tailor your messaging more effectively.
Consumer insights give you data about what specific needs, desires, and aspirations your customers have. From concrete numerical data about buying habits, to more qualitative data like customer experience surveys, mentions, or sentiment analysis, consumer insights broadly show you who your customers are and why they make certain decisions.
Sentiment analysis helps you to visualize share-of-sentiment trends over time, giving you a quick, yet effective way to understand what your customers are thinking.
3. Identify customer habits
People are a strange mix of highly predictable and wildly unpredictable. Understanding your customer habits is an important way to discern why your brand resonates where it does, and where you could be gaining more traction.
In the context of consumer insight, identifying habits can include any data points that paint a picture of why people make certain decisions. These can be general psychological ideas about why people behave the way they do, or more specific use cases from within your own datasets.
Image recognition, for instance, is a great way to understand the implicit motivations of your customers. Why do people share certain images of your brand? This overlooked, but deeply telling consumer habit, provides a treasure trove of associations about your brand that speaks right to the heart of your customers' feelings.
Conversation Clusters, similarly, help us understand consumer habits at the level of the wider contexts in which they sit. Knowing what your customers are talking about, and how these queries link in to the bigger conversations happening in your market, is a crucially important way to align yourself effectively with the broader concerns your customers might have.
4. Measure brand perception
Think of brand perception analysis as a physical checkup for your brand. It’s meant to assess general health, not diagnose specific problems (though these do come up during analysis!).
Brand perception analysis is a multifaceted beast that can be boiled down into more simple terms: it’s a way to gauge the market’s view of your brand as a whole, and it’s meant to provide a sense of what’s working in that relationship.
At the local level, sentiment analysis shows how people feel about your brand, or your competitors. By gauging the tone behind your brand mentions, you’ll be armed with a picture of how consumers really feel. In turn, this can inform your messaging, and help you address any potential pain points.
Share of voice, on the other hand, shows how the market as a whole feels about your brand. Share of voice is a unique way to see exactly how much coverage your brand - or a specific theme or campaign - is receiving in a bigger context.
Share of voice describes the share of conversations generated around your brand, products or services, across a number of channels, and in comparison to your direct competitors.
5. Define purchase motivations
Brands aren’t the only ones armed with information. The online ecosystem we live in has armed consumers with a wealth of data to aid their decision making, too. Google calls this the Zero Moment of Truth: the moment in the buying process where your potential consumers are doing their research, and deciding if they want to buy.
Consequently, understanding buyer intent matters. A lot. It’s imperative that you build a comprehensive picture of your customers’ purchase intentions - and it really helps to understand their position on your brand.
Try asking yourself the following questions when analyzing purchase motivations:
- Do your customers’ buying triggers exist out of necessity or choice?
- Where does your product fit into their lifestyle?
- What kind of buying journey are they on: a cyclical sale-pattern that needs ongoing renewal and support (like fast-moving consumer goods) or a major buying decision that requires more drawn-out research (like buying a car)?
Generally, you need to consider what kind of product offering you have, how this fits in with your customers’ needs, and then tailor your insight mining accordingly.
Examples of consumer insights
There are a few main areas of concern when it comes to gathering consumer data.
1. Immediate feedback
Once a product, service, or initiative has gone to market, immediate feedback occurs. By arming yourself with a powerful social listening tool, you’ll be better equipped to understand how your customers feel.
Example: Sonic the Hedgehog
For example, in mid-2019, Paramount released a trailer for the long-anticipated live-action take on the SEGA classic, Sonic the Hedgehog. There was just one problem. Fans were not pleased with the new ‘realistic’ Sonic. At all.
Luckily, the producers were receptive to their customers, and the world’s favorite speedy mammal was salvaged.
It’s always a difficult decision to pivot after an idea has been released into the public domain, but credit where credit’s due, the studio listened to its customers. The new trailer received a way more positive response, and despite the lingering discomfort of the first attempt, fans were generally happy with the update (a decision that probably saved Paramount hundreds of thousands.)
The lesson? It pays to be receptive to what your consumers think. Even if the feedback is tough to hear!
Example: No Man's Sky
A similar incident occurred when indie gaming studio Hello Games released their long-awaited free roamer epic, No Man’s Sky. Hype around the game was electric, but upon release the studio was immediately inundated with negative feedback. Faulty gameplay mechanics, bugs, and a general lack of feeling in the game’s story left fans feeling deflated.
In a world where big game studios delaying release dates for long awaited sequels, and pumping out unfinished games only to make consumers pay for ‘downloadable content’ months later, it was a risky move for Hello Games to push forward with the release. However, the studio has since been praised for its response to consumers. Feedback was initially harsh, but new updates, patches, and expansions have helped the game live up to its original ambitions, and the market has since warmed up considerably.
2. Trend analysis
Example: Virtual tourism in the Faroe Islands
In a recent industry report, we spoke about the ways agencies can use consumer analysis to inform their creative efforts. One of the most powerful examples of this in recent months comes from the Faroe Islands. The tiny North Atlantic territory took initiative in response to emerging consumer habits around COVID-19 lockdowns, and created an innovative way to address the small archipelago’s dwindling tourism.
In this unique piece of experiential destination marketing, visitors around the world were able to explore wild coastlines and mountain vistas by boat, helicopter, and even horseback - through the use of cameras mounted on the heads of the local Faroese (who volunteered as virtual guides).
It was a fantastic response to emerging trends that showed sensitivity, humor, and savvy.
Example: Chime neobank helps customers struggling financially during COVID-19
Trend analysis is a powerful way to put your brand at the heart of emerging problems. When the San Francisco-based neobank Chime saw the economic fallout of COVID-19 in the States, it used its brand position as a way to directly ameliorate a negative trend that was affecting its customers.
The bank quickly turned around a program that saw those affected by COVID-related layoffs access to stimulus money - before the government actually paid it out.
#ChimeCARES was first piloted among a select group of 1,000 users, offering an advance of $1,200. It was since adapted based on the results of the pilot and amended to $200 for 100,000 people.
Analysis of #ChimeCARES’ mentions and sentiment since the initiative’s launch.
This simple yet effective gesture showed a responsiveness to consumer trends that went beyond mere analysis. Chime took consumer insights to the logical conclusion: they used them to make an impact.
Consumer insights power your brand in the same way that feedback from a social group informs your character. You make changes in order to fit in with the tribe, supply valuable resources, prove your competence and reliability, and generally become someone who others want to spend time with.
Ultimately, consumer insights are about improving your side of the customer relationship. It’s about listening, learning, and taking initiative off the back of this knowledge to do something different.
If you think of consumer insights like this, the technical side seems less intimidating. Sure, there are tons of tools available to help you get down to the nitty-gritty of data gathering. But at the end of the day, it’s really just a matter of answering human questions. Your customers are human too, after all!
Social Media Trends 2021
In 2020, everything changed. How we communicate. How we work. How we shop. How we use social media. Partnered with HubSpot, we spoke with 70+ PR and marketing experts to find the Social Media Trends 2021. Trends that'll power your business decisions, & ensure your brand will survive in uncertain times. Download for the big reveal!