Using Insights To Build Customer Habits

Customer insight eliminates guess work. When used properly, it lays the foundations for successful strategy, informs the way in which you build marketing campaigns, designs your products and ultimately, grows your business.


Listening to your customers is crucial but understanding them is more important. Lee Iacocca, chairman of Chrysler recognised this. Research said there was no demand for a minivan, until Chrysler designed and created it inspiring a new category. This simultaneously saved a company threatened with extinction and reshaped the automotive industry. Conceived in the middle of an oil crisis with rocketing fuel costs and shrinking car sizes, this was the perfect opportunity for a product with good fuel economy and plenty of interior space, larger than a normal car, smaller than a VW bus; the ideal vehicle for families. A product nobody knew they needed, until they saw it.

It is simply not enough to listen to what your customers are saying, you must understand what they are thinking, what drives them and why they act as they do. Look for wider indicators and observe behaviour where possible. At Ponderosa, we combine various practices such as social listening and desk research to understand customer sentiment outside of a controlled setting and use this to help guide the research process.


One of the difficulties in unlocking insight is that people often don’t realise what is actually motivating them to behave the way they do. Over 80% of shoppers were found to be more likely to buy German wine if German music was playing, and French wine if French music was playing. Only 2% said that the music impacted their decision.

Data cannot be taken at face value. Drawing effective insights requires contextualisation, it means considering a number of factors: psychological, cultural and social. It is easy to draw insights from data, but drawing out meaningful insights that inform clear, insightful briefs and ideas is the difficult part.


Hypotheses provide focus of thought and give direction to a project. A well-developed hypothesis is about testing specific things, rather than allowing a brand or campaign to be misled by gut feel. Testing hypotheses help define the right approach to conducting research and discovering insight, whether that is a focus group, workshop or survey. The clarity gained from the continuous testing and refinement of a hypothesis means the creation of more intelligent brands.


While we have processes, research methods and principles for uncovering insight, it’s foolish to think of the process as linear. It’s anything but. And for good reason. All of the above will help, but insight can come from anywhere. Overhearing a conversation in the supermarket. A paragraph in a novel. Or from someone working in your/a client’s organisation.

The trouble with insight, I mean the stuff that really gives you leverage, is you never know when it will turn up. It’s like a detective at a murder scene. She might need to take months looking for that one bit of evidence that will crack the case. Or, she could turn up to find a fella stood there with a knife, covered in blood. But until she starts looking into it, she won’t know when that insight will present itself. One thing is for certain. You won’t solve it with guesswork.

When it comes to discovering insight, there’s no one size fits all, it takes a tailored approach. Effective insight must be methodical and rigorous. Here at Ponderosa, we don’t believe in guesswork, we believe in data driven insights. We inspire results and we drive business.

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