The value of insight

by leeshb

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about communications from university and from research, it is the value of audience insight.

I wanted to write about this topic because I was contemplating what I wanted to do for my dissertation (I still have no clue- it is a horrifying process I’m not quite ready for…joking), and got quite excited about the idea of doing primary research for a topic that interests me. I can imagine that audience opinion is like gold dust to people in communications; if they are constantly improving their offering then they need this insight to do so.

I was reading through the Cannes Lions winners yesterday, and when I was looking at the insight that drove campaigns it really made me understand why advertising (well, communications overall) is interesting to me. I really am fascinated by human beings and psychology plays a big effect into how people in comms engage, attract, and create desire for consumers. A PR campaign that really hit me with their insight was the recent Dove “Real Beauty Sketches”. Their insight that “Only 4% of women believe they’re beautiful” simply derived from in depth, target market research. The idea that a global campaign with billions of impressions can be developed from those 7 words really struck me yesterday and I finally understand the importance of “knowing the audience”.


My lecturer, when talking about analysing an integrated campaign, always used to say to look out for the “golden nuggets” of insight. At first I never quite understood how insight was developed. I wondered how agencies knew what to pick out and say “yep, that’s it”. As I’ve gone along researching campaigns and reading through how they are developed, it always seems that the one key insight that stands out could really have come from anyone/anywhere. For a Febreeze campaign I analysed this year, their insight for their “Breathe Happy” campaign literally came from a random consumer stating “You can close your eyes, but you can’t turn off your nose”. It’s these small but important phrases that get the cogs of the brain turning until a campaign idea is decided.


I really am enjoying investigating into the topic of “insight” because I think it drives these amazing campaigns we are seeing from day to day. At the end of the day, creativity stems from insight. If the comms people don’t know how target audiences are feeling, acting, talking or perceiving- then there is no way to develop content that will meet their needs or make them tick.