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Facts and Information Versus Human Insights and Relevance

We are living in an age where data gathering is extensively practiced, analysed and made increasingly accessible with online publications and market research findings.

Creative people in advertising will often encounter huge amounts of market research data for a brand communication campaign. However, target market data, brand information and marketing insights are not synonymous with consumer insights.

If there is no thought-provoking perception and thorough understanding of the needs and aspirations people have and the social issues they care about, you don’t have insight, merely brand or product information that may be useful but have no resonating power to be persuasive, nor compelling or memorable.

Bill Bernbach, the father of modern advertising once said; “You can say the right things, do the right things, but if no one feels it in their guts, nothing will happen”.


The starting point to finding a compelling consumer insight is the question why?

Many women dye their hair. That is a fact not an insight. The answer to why they do it would be the key consumer insight.

Consumer behaviour will inevitably be intuitive or emotional, and rarely be rational.

Ph.D. Consumer Psychologist Peter Noel Murray, states that for emotion research to be successful it must probe for insights in the subconscious.

  1. Purchase intent is determined by emotions experienced in consumer judgments.
  2. It is emotion, not information, that moves consumers from interest and intent to the act of buying.
  3. Emotions have greater influence on brand loyalty than other judgments based on brand attributes.
  4. Positive consumer-brand emotional relationships must be nurtured to be sustained long-term.

Neuroscientist for Nielsen Consumer Research Center Dr. Carl D. Marci brings an important truth to our attention that our emotion system is on all the time. It’s constantly evaluating information and tagging the relevant bits for storage.

So it’s our emotion system that helps guide us to approach something that we see has value, run away from things that we don’t value or see as a threat, and ignore just about everything else.

As humans, we like to think of ourselves as rational creatures who occasionally act emotionally. But modern neuroscience tells us the opposite is most likely true: We’re emotional creatures who occasionally act rationally.

Engaging the modern consumer means creating insightful messages that resonate emotionally.

As a the poet Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”