In today’s rapidly changing and competitive marketplace, consumer insights often determine success and can offer critical differentiation for your brand

We’re going to tackle what it means to be an insights-driven brand, why it’s important, and examples of brands using consumer insights to grow their business. 

We know what you might think – “I already conduct market research. What is the difference between that and consumer insights?” Let’s talk about it. 

Market research vs. Consumer Insights 

Market research and consumer insights are often used interchangeably, but they serve different purposes, and one often supports the other. If building an insights-driven brand strategy is like a relay race, it’s market research that hands the baton to consumer insights. 

Market research is defined as the study of the requirements of various markets, the acceptability of products, and methods of developing or exploiting new markets. 

When a company is conducting market research, they are looking to cast a wide net on factual information to gauge marketplace traits, attitudes, wants, and needs. It is also used to explore new markets and offer comparisons with competitors and industry standards.  

Consumer insights is the dedicated and organized strategy of analyzing consumer data and feedback to make actionable recommendations that will impact your brand and business. 

Analyzing consumer insights beyond just market trends is essential. After all, “the market” is just a fancy word for people’s behavior. We can’t forget the human element. 

Consumer insights aim to take the guesswork out of important business decisions. It allows marketers to dive deeper into how consumers think and understand how they can create the best possible customer experience. 

Ultimately, organizations need both market research and consumer insights. Market research tends to offer a macro perspective for brands, while consumer insights offer a micro-level “street view” of what consumers are looking for and how you can capitalize on it. 

For example, a food brand might do market research to see if there’s a declining movement of young adult women eating breakfast cereal. Consumer insights will aim to understand what motivates this particular group to abandon this morning staple. Maybe they are reluctant because of processed sugar, or there are generational differences in what they consider a nutritious breakfast. Consumer insights can help fill in the holes and guide decision-makers on how to fulfill a particular need correctly. 

Consumer insights can be collected in various ways, and innovative consumer research techniques are discovered every day – from artificial intelligence to market research online communities (MROC) to biometrics to geolocation or applied consumer neuroscience.

What actionable steps can you take after collecting consumer insights?

The rewards of tapping into consumer insights are endless, from optimizing your marketing strategy to improving your product development. 

1. Accurately map the customer journey
In conjunction with data amassed from market research, collecting consumer insights can help you delineate answers with regards to the who, what, where, when, and why of a customer’s purchase journey. It can help answer what channels are most influential and the barriers to conversion. 

2. Create accurate and detailed personas
Discovering consumer insights about your audience helps you determine your ideal customer set and has a tangible impact on your marketing spend. Speaking to the right people in the right way can save thousands of dollars (or sometimes millions) in advertising costs. 

3. Deliver more personalized experiences
When you solicit opinions from your consumers directly, you can use that data to create a positive feedback loop of marketing messages. Seventy-eight percent of consumers are more likely to recommend companies that personalize. 

4. Improve brand equity and consumer relationships
Sometimes, marketers think of consumer insights as a behind-the-scene practice, but people notice when you’re paying attention to them. 77% of consumers say they favor brands that ask for and accept customer feedback. 

5. Gaining validation for investments in new products and services, packaging, and creative
If you’re looking to convince decision-makers in the c-suite, verifying interest and analyzing consumer opinions and attitudes is often the silver bullet to securing support for new initiatives. 

6. Anticipate consumer trends to stay ahead of the curve
Market research can be great for identifying gaps in the marketplace, but many times it is described as looking in the rearview mirror of a speeding car. Consumer insights will expose unfulfilled needs and trends that might not be on your radar. 

Brands getting it right: Consumer insights examples 

Metholatum Secures New Retail Distribution with the Help of Consumer Insights 

As a brand that’s been around for 125 years, Mentholatum understands the need to innovate to preserve the trust it has built with families for generations. 

Mentholatum is the manufacturer behind the VaporDuo brand, and they turned to a virtual focus group to understand more about brand and category users. 

Mentholatum’s team gained more than 100+ actionable insights and used them to deepen its relationship with existing and new retail partners. With the help of consumer insights on buying behavior and consumer preferences, they secured new distribution at Dollar General stores, which they had been struggling to break into.  

Sir Kensington’s “Elevated Eater” Audience Profiling 

Unilever’s fast-growing condiment brand, Sir Kensington’s, uses its online brand community, the Taste Buds, as a valuable channel to cultivate consumer insights. 

Challenger brands like Sir Kensington’s face unique, well, challenges. When trying to steal market share from established brands, they knew they had to focus, with laser-sharp accuracy, on identifying consumer needs to succeed.

Through their online brand community, they had direct access to consumers to run surveys, polls, and discussions. A 7-week dedicated Market Research Online Community (MROC) study was used to identify four key eater segments within their audience. Within each segment, they could understand different taste preferences, brand perceptions, and shopping habits. They then delivered insights to their team on messaging, content ideas, and targeting for various product SKUs.

DSE Healthcare Fuels Predictive Insights for Go-To-Market Strategies   

DSE Healthcare Solutions manages a portfolio of specialty health brands and aims to stay on top of the latest trends.

One of the fastest and easiest ways to gain insights was starting the Upside Community, a valuable online destination for health-conscious consumers to connect, exchange tips, and access new and exciting opportunities and content from DSE Healthcare.

DSE’s supplement product, Fergon Iron Restore, was developed entirely with the help of their community. They identified consumer needs for product development, aided in naming the product, and then helped seed reviews and samples to drive immediate sales impact at launch. 

How Vesta can help take your consumer insights to the next level 

Vesta purpose-built its online community platform with insights in mind. Brand partners can utilize Vesta to access insights from their own consumer set via an online brand community, or they can gain broader consumer learnings from Vesta’s proprietary peer influencer community, Smiley360 –  a group of socially engaged, connected, and opinionate consumers who share their thoughts and feedback about brands, shopping habits and much more. Check out some of our latest consumer insight studies:

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VP, Product Strategy