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Who needs 'NEED insight'?

Let’s start with 'insight’. Everyone in marketing agrees you need insight. So how come if you ask for a definition, everyone gives you a different answer?

When the word first surfaced around brands, there was an attempt to give it a specific meaning. Diageo defined it as 'a penetrating discovery into consumer motivations applied to unlock growth'.

That worked for a time. But people soon started adding their own spin, changing the odd word, so they could say it was their definition.

Before you knew it, ‘insight’ was everywhere. People liked saying it because it sounded more sage-like (well, that’s my insight).

Then as the marketing world flooded with data, things changed. Suddenly every piece of analysis, almost every piece of information, became 'an insight’.

More recently the behavioural economists have ridden into town with their love of the counterintuitive. It's heuristics, they say, the motive is generally effort reduction.

So where are we now?

Well, it is just a word. Use 'insight' in everyday life and people will know what you mean. Something to do with a deep and accurate understanding of something or someone

But in marketing its overuse seems to have had a consequence. I think we're spending less and less time asking why. And not, like, “why?”, but “no really, I mean, come on, really, WHY do people do that?”.

Maybe with all the journeys and touchpoints and data and content and experiences and metrics, we’re all simply too busy.

I know also that asking "why?" can appear an indulgence, like you’re dragging a meeting off to a psychology lecture.

But marketing is still, despite all the changes of late, about people’s needs - identifying, anticipating and satisfying them - and making money from that. And people’s fundamental needs, their instincts and desires, change much, much slower than marketing fashions.

So don’t you have to, at some point, ask why? And doesn’t ‘why?’ then get you to ‘why not?’. And doesn't "why not?" then, maybe, get you to growth? And we all need growth, don't we?

So I thought, why not write a blog about this? And why not call it ‘Need Insight’, so people know the kind of insight I’m talking about?

I’m going to take a different need each time. I’ll bring it to life as best I can and then show what an insight into that need could be. I’ll do this in a number of ways – observations, stories, film characters, imagined conversations, pet psychological theories and, of course, brand examples.

Because if people’s behavior is driven more by emotion than reason, then what brand owners and their agencies need is insight into those emotions and what drives them. You need ‘NEED insight’.

Then you can work out how to get your brand to make an emotional connection that sticks in the memory and changes people’s behavior in the way you want.

The plan is a new post every couple of weeks. I know, fighting talk!

So what do you reckon? Does it sound like it might be an interesting read? Any thoughts would be very welcome.

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