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What Is an Insight?

“What is an insight?” This question that has caused many a marketer confusion, which is unfortunate because insights can be powerful tools for sparking better ideas and more resonant creative work.

An insight provides a timely, relevant and novel perspective on data, beliefs, trends and patterns. It is both analytical and empathic.

In marketing, insights typically connect to customers and the world they live in as it relates to your brand and industry.

An Insight Is Not

  • Just a fact - “Revenue was up 15% in Q3” is not an insight in itself. It’s a data point.
  • Based on one thing - Insights emerge from the interpretation of multiple data sources, both qualitative and quantitative.
  • A calculation - Insights require analysis, not just computation.
  • Ungrounded - It is neither speculation nor assumption.

An Insight Is

  • Novel - It reveals something new that we haven’t thought of before or helps us see the everyday from a new perspective.
  • Relevant - It is meaningful to the project, audience and objectives.
  • Supported by multiple pieces of data - It incorporates data from many sources, whether sales data, customer behaviors, cultural trends, industry news, survey results, popular media, or anything else that might be relevant. Seek new sources in unexpected places for alternate perspectives.
  • The “why” - It illuminates the reason facts are so.
  • Tied to human behavior - It says something deeper about people and their emotional states; their reasons for acting; their motivations, fears, desires and needs.
  • Context - It gives us a better understanding of the practical, emotional and social reasons things are the way they are.
  • Meaningful to the work at hand - It is a source of positive creative energy to the project. It may cause people to rethink assumptions, but should not stifle ideas.
  • A guide - It narrows scope, providing meaningful focus and clarity, and can offer renewed creative energy for recurring projects.
  • A way to align - When everyone buys in, we create from the same shared perspective.

Insight IRL

Personal care brand, Dove, is famous for reinvigorating its brand in the early 2000s in ways that affect it to this day. Through research on women’s habits and perceptions around beauty, the team came to the insight that most women do not consider themselves to be beautiful.

This surprising realization became a platform from which to rethink the role of marketing in how women view themselves and led to the development of the “Real Beauty” campaign, which still runs today.

Think to Rethink

Insights make us think, challenge our assumptions, and alter our perspective. They often spark surprising and innovative ideas that are also relevant to the project at hand and give us a means for defending our work - ideas that don’t address the insight don’t get developed.

We use insights to guide our marketing efforts and aim to craft them for all the projects we make briefs for. We highly recommend exploring insights as a way to reinvigorate your creative process and generate stronger, more culturally resonant ideas.

In future posts, we’ll dig into how we develop insights.

Related Resources

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Marketing In A Time of Constant Change


Michael Kwolek



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