Are you reporting findings or sharing insight?

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One of the challenges in market research is sharing what you learned. Formal training and years in the field hone your survey development skills and ability to interpret what consumers are really saying in focus groups, but sharing what you learned is a fine art.

So the big question is: are you sharing findings or insight?

What’s the difference?

A finding is simply a fact – a data point, a stat, a plot on a line graph or a quote from a focus group respondent.

An insight is “a penetrating, discerning understanding that unlocks an opportunity” (source).

And insight can also …

  • be a calculated discovery
  • reveal the symbolic and emotional bond with brands
  • be something you know that you competitors do not know
  • be a mix of facts and intuition that come from a deep understanding of consumers’ hidden needs and subconscious motivations
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Market research reports should unlock opportunities, not just report the findings.

Marsha E. Williams of Harvest Research Group and formerly head of consumer insights at Viacom, organizes her thoughts this way: “Findings are often nice to know; insights should be considered need to know.  All insights are findings, but not all findings are insights” (source).

If I pretend I’m in market research for a peanut butter brand then it is nice to know that 20-somethings love peanut butter because it is their go to ingredient for a quick meal, keeps in the pantry for a long time and is affordable. What PB brand management needs to know is that peanut butter is their comfort food and fondly reminds them of childhood. That’s what ad campaigns are made of these days – not just that PB is a go-to ingredient, but that it conjures up fond memories. Understanding PB’s role as a nostalgia trigger in these 20-something lives “unlocks an opportunity” for marketers to tug at the heartstrings of the target audience.

Are you reporting the findings or unlocking opportunities?

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