Market Research / 4 September 2017

Listening as the path to insights

Insights are original discoveries about the fundamental feelings, needs and motivations of people – and the tension points in their life. Insights are almost about always emotionally-based latent needs. Reinforce or re-position the brand to meet the needs in innovative ways.


When was the last time you talked with and listened to your customer – or prospect? If you have to think how long ago it was, then you are missing the chance to see your brand the way the customer currently sees it, or gain insights into their needs. Some examples:

  • A luxury brand’s CMO was shocked when he realized women couldn’t tell apart his brand’s diamond solitaire engagement ring from the competitor’s. Women considering their most prized future possession said they felt frustrated at the lack of design choice. Opportunities for a new range of design options opened up, linked to the colours of love.
  • A sports brand felt they had drifted away from their youth audience. Learning about the stress young people felt either in their first job or cramming to finish their education allowed new approaches to be developed for the brand to become a youth hero.
  • A home decoration brand couldn’t understand why some couples who had saved up for renovations didn’t use the money as planned – until they learned that they had spent the money to go on a short break away from the cold local winter to enjoy the sun in a warmer country. This insight into a key purchase barrier lead to brand repositioning about bringing sunshine into the home.
  • A major international broadcaster’s global conference of senior staff was set up for an opportunity to meet viewers from around the world and highlighted an urgent issue to better understand the diversity of needs to be met. They embarked on co-creation and used internal advocates to bring the voice of the viewers into decision making.

The common theme above is that listening and being customer-centric yields insights to inform and shape marketing plans. “Learn to let go” is a modern marketer’s mantra alongside “Learn to listen”. It’s transformational because it can become top-down policy across the organization to embrace challenge with a sense of urgency to serve the customer better – before the competition does.



  • Listening to hard truths from the consumer adds a strong dose of reality about your brand
  • A listening culture fosters a receptive atmosphere to embracing change
  • With the customer at the centre, you can stay close to market opportunities and changes
  • Co- creation with the consumer builds satisfaction and loyalty
  • Allows organisations to see ‘disruptive’ change as an opportunity
  • Speak the language of the customer
  • Research is the foundation of listening and digging deep for insights


Steve Garton

Managing Partner


by Steve Garton

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