Q&A with Good Thinking Managing Director Issa Baron on Insighting

Q1: What is insighting and why should all companies, even small ones, generate insight?

A: An insight is a latent consumer truth that brings about strong emotions (due to its relevance to the target segment). When clearly linked to the brand, an insight has the power to make consumers seriously consider a brand because it shares the same emotions and values as they have. It can make consumer see how a brand is able to solve an unresolved puzzle which may have been tucked back into the subconscious because of lack of appropriate solutions at current time.

Q2: What made you specialize in insighting?

A: Insighting is not a new concept. It was already being used by advertising agencies way back in 1992 when I started work with Lintas (now Mullen Lowe Lintas). It is how strategic planners create an interesting story about the brand. During my days in Lintas, I was amazed at how they would come up with consumer “hot buttons” on which they base their storyboards on. The most intriguing exercise was when (the late) Francis Trillana asked me to do desk research on the Filipino youth. I gave him a rather scholarly paper much like a thesis would look like. But when he gave a speech for a Close-Up inspirational session, I was amazed at the teen truths he came out from what I submitted. From then on, I got curious about how to come up with a “hot button” (now called a consumer insight) to make consumers connect to the brand like Mighty Bond.

Q3: Insights are converted into strategies. What are some of the insights, both local and international, that have significantly grown or revived a brand?

A: The most exciting insights I have come across are:
1) Lactum’s Panatag Si Mommy. Before Lactum, milks were all on mental development because it was found that moms rear their kids so they can achieve far more than they have ever achieved; Developing the mind was very important to even very young kids. But the insight on picky eaters also cuts across age; even up to 7 years old. So Lactum was able to answer a significantly large segment’s need for an answer to their most challenging problem of feeding their picky eater child.

2) BPI’s Bank Anywhere. There was a study that identified migration as a major reason why accounts were closed at a branch. So consumers had to open a new account at the bank nearest their new residential or business location. BPI was the first who introduced the Bank Anywhere concept ; eliminating interbranch charges for deposits and withdrawals. This allowed the depositor to open an account at any branch and continue with the brand, without any inconvenience, when he needs to transfer location.

3) Coke’s Open a Bottle of Happiness. To the local market, this global campaign was relevant to the different target segments in different ways. To moms, it was about her need to keep family bonding happy and special; no matter how simple and small due to budget constraints. To another critical segment of the brand – the youth, it was being able to find family support when he knew his actions would disappoint his parents. Interestingly, Filipino youth need to know what role he can clearly play in his family.

4) Nike’s Just Do It. While this brand started with Just Do It as an advocacy to get the American people to start exercising to get healthy, over the years, it has remained very relevant to people who needed encouragement to pursue any challenge in life; with comfort and style. Interestingly, the brand seems to be gaining stronger momentum among the Milleninals who, as a generation, can jump from one interest to the other in order to find out what truly makes them happy. To this non-judgmental generation, brands that encourage this philosophy, are more about comfort and style, seem more important that brands who offer status and exclusivity.

Q4: What are the steps in generating good insights?

A: Good insights are culled from one or many consumer visits (preferably to their homes). By doing what we call at GoodThinking, cloak-off interviews, we unearth many truths that have much to do with how she feels and thinks about life, about values, about products and about brands. The trick is

(1) To listen; not lead. Be careful with how you ask your questions. Asking very broad questions can cast out a bigger net. Allowing the consumer to define the broad question depending on how relevant it is to him is very revealing.

(2) Jot down new stories of the target market on post it notes and stick them on a “consumer wall”

(3) Find similarities among observations and come up with a theme. Best to find a value that the action reflects.

(4) Identify new themes and values that can describe your target market; particularly the new conflicts they encounter maybe due to upcoming social trends.

(5) Choose which conflict your brand can help answer in a unique way.

Q5: Given that there is plenty of insight to go around, how do you choose the best one at any given situation? How do you know you have the right insight?

A: It is not easy to spot a compelling insight but if you know your brand by heart, there will be an aha moment that will happen when you try to link the consumer truth to your brand. It is an excitement that you have discovered a new story that your brand can be identified with.

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