When fishing for insights, you need to know how deep to dive

When it comes to innovation, everyone’s looking for a breakthrough.

Or at least, they think they are.

In reality, breakthroughs aren’t everything – a lot of innovation is incremental and gradual. It may not jump out at you as being radically new and different, but it creates value and keeps brands strong.

At Happen, we see three ways of using insight: protecting existing brands, growing brands (taking them somewhere a bit new), and transforming them with something entirely new. That last one is where the true breakthroughs happen.

When you’re on the hunt for insight, it’s crucial to know whether you’re looking to protect, grow or transform, so that you know what kind of insight you’re after, and where to look for clues.

Insights can be found at a number of different levels: some are deep, fundamental truths about human behaviour and emotions, while others exist at a more detailed, nitty-gritty level – relating to things like pricing and packaging.

“You’ve got to be very aware of the outcomes you’re looking for,” says Happen’s client director Sara Adams. “If someone comes to me and says, ‘I’ve got this product, it’s ready but I just need to know how to position it,’ I’m going to design a research process that starts with people-level understanding: people’s lives, their hopes, fears, passions… and connect that with attitudes related to the category. You may get your insight by connecting stuff that’s completely non-related to the category.”

“Alternatively if someone comes to me and says, ‘We need to improve our packaging for this product,’ the level of insight you need is more practical, more functional, and it’s specific to that category. You’re looking for clues about what people do and don’t do, when, where, how often, and who with, to find those micro-frustrations that reveal an opportunity for innovation.”

 

“Insights can be found at a number of different levels: some are deep, fundamental truths about human behaviour and emotions, while others exist at a more detailed, nitty-gritty level – relating to things like pricing and packaging.”

Sara Adams, Happen

For instance, dishwasher tablet brand Finish understands well that its customers want reassurance that their dishes will be spotlessly clean after one wash – that’s a high-level insight. But, to hit on new innovations for its packaging, the brand had to spend time with customers understanding how they use the product, how they handle it, how they store it, and how it fits into their daily lives. Does the package open and seal easily? Is it waterproof? Does it stand up tidily in the cupboard? These small questions can take on big importance.

Looking for clues at the wrong level could mean you waste your time finding out things that are fascinating but not helpful, Sara says. “If you go too general, your findings will be anodyne, but if you go too specific, you’ll end up with something that might help you fine-tune a product, but won’t help you position the brand.”

Before you kick off your next insight project, have a think about what level of insight you’re really after – and where those clues might lie. If you have an innovation project that you want to develop, don’t hesitate to talk to the Happen innovation team here.