Consumer insights: Understand what drives your target market

Consumer insights look at the wants and needs of your target market to explain why the market behaves the way it does. These insights can give your business a deeper understanding of buying behavior—including both personal consumer preferences and market trends.

Market research data, like how many people in your target market would consider buying your product, isn’t always enough to go on when it comes to product development and marketing. Your business also needs to know what drives that data. Consumer marketing insights help you understand potential customers and make product and marketing decisions that win them over.

Market research gathers data on consumer behavior using research methods like interviews, focus groups, experiments, and surveys. This type of research often generates both quantitative and qualitative data, such as data on market demographics and consumer sentiment.

Market research results are often either statistical or anecdotal. For example, you may find that 55% of consumers think it’s very important that your business donates to charity, while 31% think it’s somewhat important—and some consumers may even suggest a specific charity.

Consumer insights dig deeper into market research results to explain the “why” behind a statistic. For example: why do consumers think it’s important for your business to donate to charity? Maybe your brand values align with a specific cause they want you to support. Maybe they want to feel like they’re having a positive impact when they purchase your products. 

Every business needs consumer insights and even those with a bare-bones staff and budget can generate them relatively easily. Agile market research techniques empower your business to take control of its own market research, instead of hiring outside researchers to do the work for you. Here’s how you can find consumer insights in your research data:

Businesses with accurate data are more likely to generate meaningful insights. Make informed conclusions about consumer behavior by diving into the wants, attitudes, and buying behavior of your target market with consumer insight research. This type of market research helps you build correlations between beliefs and buying behaviors.

While there are many types of consumer insight research, surveys are often the most versatile way to tackle consumer research questions—and they play a key role in more complex research methods like focus groups and experiments. With surveys, your business can quickly and frequently collect data from a representative sample of your market.

There are two main ways to extract consumer behavior insights from your research. You can either directly ask respondents for their insight or establish correlations between data points once your consumer insights research is complete. If you’re using the first method, ask follow-up questions that encourage participants to explain the reasoning behind their buying behavior. Survey logic can help with this, as it lets you include custom questions based on a respondent’s previous answers.

Businesses often struggle to manage the information they collect from market research. Only 1.9% of marketing leaders say that their companies are equipped to leverage marketing analytics and effectively use their data. To generate insights from consumer market research or analytics, you’ll need to sift through big data to find the most important data points.

To identify potential insights, organize your data so that patterns emerge in your participants’ buying behavior. To manage large data sets, filter your responses to look at patterns in smaller segments of your target market. This technique helps you uncover micro-trends and correlations, and lets you focus on a more manageable pool of participants.

Consumer insights are only useful in the hands of the people who know what to do with them. Make a real impact on your business by sharing your key consumer insights with the co-workers or employees who will benefit most from your research. A shared database or report are good ways to make your insights accessible to anyone at your business who needs them.

New consumer insights help your business stay on top of market shifts, but consumer behavior data from the past can be just as useful. Past insights are a great way to add context to future research questions and benchmark future insights, so hold on to the reports you make—the best consumer insights are those that your business can return to time and time again.

Any data point that explains why consumers behave the way they do is a consumer insight. A digital consumer insight looks at why people behave the way they do in your online store. A retail consumer insight looks at why people behave a certain way at a business location.

An online retailer, for example, might try to find out why some people place items in their online shopping cart without ever checking out. Is it because they encountered an unexpected fee? Is it because they never had any intention of going through with an online purchase? A digital consumer insight that answers these questions will help the retailer convert these customers.

A coffee shop, on the other hand, might look for retail consumer insights that help it meet the demands of nearby consumers. Does its target market like to experiment or prefer to stick to the same drink every day? Do they drink coffee for a boost of energy during the workweek or to relax with friends on the weekend? These types of insights inform local buying behavior.

Just like consumer insights, customer insights look at the “why” behind market research results. However, consumer insights examine the thought process of your entire target market, while customer insights just focus on the wants and needs of people who are already your customers. Methods like customer satisfaction surveys and case studies help businesses get insight into important buying behaviors like customer preferences, frequency of use, and repurchase behavior.

Many businesses use both consumer and customer insights, but B2B businesses often lean more heavily on customer insights. These businesses work with the same clients (or type of clients) over and over, so understanding customer behavior is key to retaining business. B2C businesses, on the other hand, often spend more time with consumer insights. They may need to constantly attract new customers, so keeping a finger on the pulse of the market is crucial.

From the quality of customer service interactions to the ease of repurchasing a product, customer insights can take many forms. For many businesses, understanding the thought processes behind customer metrics is crucial to delivering a good customer experience.

A business software company, for example, will probably spend lots of time with metrics like number of downloads, number of active users, number of people using specific features, and overall user satisfaction. More than consumer market insights, these customer experience insights help the company adapt its user experience to the evolving needs of the market.

Whether you’re getting your insights from consumers or customers, your business generates better outcomes when it takes the time to really understand people’s wants and needs. With consumer insights you can develop a comprehensive understanding of buying behavior, so you no longer have to market test every idea to predict how your target market will react.

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