What are Consumer Insights?
Consumer insights are actionable information on consumer behaviors and trends that are collected and analyzed by companies in order to understand their audiences, drive their marketing efforts, and improve their business performance.
Why are consumer insights important?
Consumer insights are particularly crucial today as most businesses are facing audiences composed of a hodgepodge of several generations, income levels, demographics, and cultural backgrounds. A 2019 Deloitte report found that in the US we have moved to a diverse, splintered, and heterogeneous consumer base with a much broader and varied set of demands and needs. What’s more, all of these various groups are growing more demanding, more skeptical, and less loyal.
Even for B2B companies selling in the digital age has become more complex than many B2B leaders had anticipated. Customer expectations for personalized experiences and end-to-end solutions are significantly higher than they were just a few years ago: B2B customers tend to expect the same level of hyper-personalized service as they receive in B2C channels.
How are consumer insights gathered?
The businesses that are ahead today are the ones that can harvest real-time consumer data, quickly identify behavioral patterns, and anticipate needs even before they can be picked up by traditional research methods.
Typically, consumer insights are obtained on an ongoing basis through a variety of methods: surveys, interviews, focus groups, social listening, or marketing analytics platforms. Lately, the proliferation and availability of real-time consumer data have enabled industries to get a greater insight into consumer behavior in the moment. The businesses that are ahead today are the ones that can harvest real-time consumer data, quickly identify behavioral patterns, and anticipate needs even before they can be picked up by traditional research methods.
With an increasing number of consumers now seeking experiences, services, products, and communication that are relevant and unique to them, businesses are leveraging consumer insights to personalize their customer engagement.
“Today’s digitally-savvy consumers expect brands to know and understand them,” said Brendan Witcher, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester, in a webinar on ML-Based Personalization. “In fact, 73% of consumers prefer to do business brands that use their information to make experiences more efficient.”
In order to provide such value-added digital experiences, businesses have to collect a 360° view of every customer. Fortunately, today’s customers are interacting with businesses at multiple channels.
“As consumers are engaging with you through search, through chat, through apps, through mobile, through text messaging, through your stores, through email, … all this needs to be collected in the repository to be able to create that great rich profile, not a persona, of the customer so that you can really get a good view of them,” Witcher said.
How to use consumer insights?
While it is important to be customer-obsessed and to understand consumer behavior, especially those who visit your website or store, the key to providing great customer experience is operationalizing customer data so that businesses can actually understand behavior patterns and get a holistic view of what they want. This means asking your site visitors or customers questions about their preferences, understanding their behavior patterns, and letting these insights lead them to make decisions about how to connect with every customer as an individual rather than as a segment.
“Often organizations will use data to support decisions that they’ve already made,” Witcher added. “Being data-led is this idea of avoiding preconceived notions about your customers and business and use this data to drive strategic decisions.”
Overall, real-time consumer data helps companies run personalized, precisely targeted marketing campaigns and, as a result, enjoy greater consumer engagement, conversions, and ROI. However true end-to-end personalization will require commitment from aspiring businesses to build new capabilities, such as:
- Strong cross-channel offerings
- Cross-enterprise collaboration
- A single view of the customer
- A new technology ecosystem.
In fact, Forrester states: insights-led businesses are growing at an average of more than 30% annually and are on track to earn $1.8 trillion by 2021. These customer-obsessed firms systematically harness insights across their organization and implement them to create a competitive advantage through software.