Companies can no longer apply a “one-size-fits-all” approach to targeting their audience and expect to yield prolific results. Consumers are engaging online more than ever before—via user reviews, social media, forums, blogs, etc.—revealing personal details and preferences at an unprecedented rate. As a result of the consumer data tsunami, the marketing approach must continue to become more sophisticated and refined.
"How do consumers behave vs. what are their underlying needs and desires?"
The influx of consumer data has turned up the pressure for brand marketers tasked with accelerating business growth. Though the vast amount of consumer generated content provides a fruitful landscape in which to study consumers, the challenge becomes identifying effective means to process, refine and craft relevant messaging—how do consumers behave vs. what are their underlying needs and desires?
Consumer insights are more than sets of observations on customer behavior relating to a particular product or category. It is the understanding of conscious and subconscious belief systems that drive consumption and purchasing. Thoughts, beliefs, needs, preferences, dislikes, fears, and culture roll up into personal identity and become precursors to actions and attitudes. Brands who identify insights that represent and resonate with a large group of consumers can leverage them to improve their competitive positioning.
"Only 11% of customer-related decisions that marketers make are based on hard data"
Far too often, assumptions are made about what motivates consumer behavior without understanding the key precursors that dictate it. In fact, Harvard Business Review cited a recent CEB study finding that only 11% of customer-related decisions that marketers make are based on hard data, while the rest relies on gut.
A perfect example of this is the increase in minivans purchases by Millennials in the automotive industry. Historically, car shoppers choose minivans for the extra cabin space to accommodate their growing families. Since the number of Millennial families with more than one child is on the rise, it could be assumed that this is the motivation behind their
However, contrary to this assumption, a recent Oculus360 study revealed that many Millennials are purchasing minivans in order to fit more friends safely into a single vehicle for a night out socializing. A savvy automotive brand could use this insight to alter their marketing message by highlighting human desires like safety, friendship, and adventure, rather than focusing only on family-oriented messaging.
The Power of Consumer Insights
The high volume of available consumer created content can be mined for consumer insights to feed various strategic initiatives, such as:
- Driving targeted marketing campaigns hinged on product features key to meeting consumer needs
- Tracking effects that marketing campaigns have on consumer engagement
- Identify avenues for product creation or line extensions
- Understanding consumer perceptions of competitive landscapes to find opportunities for conquesting
- Earning and retaining consumers by appealing to their identity, needs and cross-category interests
As people expect companies to be more user-centered and brands expect consumers to acquire and engage loyally, brand marketers will need to leverage scalable technologies to mine for actionable insights. Only then will brands effectively communicate with their consumers and drive results in the ever-expansive digital landscape.