For businesses of all shapes and sizes, understanding your customers is essential to long-term survival. This is especially the case when it comes to small businesses. Having a solid knowledge of your customers' wants and needs can go a long way towards success. By actively listening to your customers, you can use that knowledge and information to improve the customer experience, making your business a better choice for new and repeat customers alike.
What are consumer insights, what makes them so important, and why should you use them for your small business? Read on for all the details now:
What are consumer insights?
Consumer insights are a powerful and effective way for businesses to understand and comprehend what their potential customers – and existing customers – are thinking and feeling. These insights are typically gained from high-quality, functional, and actionable data that can be used to improve customer loyalty, enhance your sales and marketing process, and generally provide a service in line with what your customers want.
At its heart, consumer insights are an analysis of human behaviour. This information can then be used to inform a business of how they should act and change to meet the specific wants and needs of their audience. Insights also help small businesses to understand precisely why customers want certain things. This can allow for more effective marketing, accurate targeting, and sales success in the long run.
Understanding consumer insight may sound easy on paper, but it can be more challenging than you might think to approach this unique technique if you've never done it before. You'll need a good understanding of both how to analyse data and how to perform research and how to get the best quality data possible to achieve the best possible results.
Why is consumer insight so important?
Consumer insight is essential to small businesses for several different reasons. The first of which is that knowing your customers better can only serve to benefit your business. You may find that your competitors simply aren't targeting your customer base as effectively as they could. This is because they don't understand the reasons behind the needs and wants of their audience. Consumer insight drills down to those details so you can focus and home in on what's important.
For a small business without an endless budget, sales and marketing activities need to succeed to help your business to grow. Consumer insight provides the knowledge and data to a specific target and improves the journey of your customer. Not only are you saving costs on more generic marketing, but you're able to pinpoint your overall business as being the solution to your audience's wants and needs.
Whether you're a fresh new business, or you've found your company going stagnant from old strategy or techniques, consumer insight is equally valuable. As a tool used by companies and marketers, consumer insights are an ideal addition to existing market research tools and other strategies you've put in place to grow and evolve your small business.
Market research vs consumer insight – what's the difference?
While market research is the more generic part of research-based marketing activities, it is slightly different from consumer insight in crucial ways. Most importantly, market research tends to deal with general, overarching information. This could be anything from looking at your competitors to looking at market trends to knowing your customer base's demographics.
By contrast, consumer insights deal with the why rather than the what. That means you're able to see your customers' thought process in greater detail and understand what actions are required using that data to make a difference to your growth and sales.
Market research gives the birds-eye view, while consumer insight gets into the little details that can make a big difference to your profits if done correctly—both essential, for different reasons.
What are the benefits of investing time and money into consumer insight?
For many small businesses, consumer insight can be an effective tool when used correctly. But like any other form of data collection and research, it takes time and effort to do properly. But with real, tangible and visible benefits over time, there's plenty of reason why consumer insight should be a firm inclusion on your next strategic plan. Here are just a few of the benefits you may want to consider:
Improving your customer's journey
Understanding the complete customer journey, from awareness of your brand to purchase, retention, and ongoing relationships is a valuable insight. It offers your business the chance to see things from the customer perspective instead of from a company trying to sell to that audience.
By looking into consumer insights and researching your customer base's wants and needs, tailoring the overall experience each customer goes through is a far easier process. Once you've mapped out what your customer journey looks like based on solid data and analysis, you're in a far better position to convert that information into targeted marketing and sales actions.
Targeted, more effective marketing
Personalised marketing can have far better returns on investment than generic or general industry marketing. While large market-leading brands may see success in mass marketing, targeting a specific audience is a must for small business. Understand what those people want and need can make your marketing more effective without the need for trial and error to get there.
Consumer insights can be used alongside market research to build your specific customer or customer groups' persona. This can then be used to create marketing that speaks to those people, solves their particular problem, and adds value to their lives. For a small company looking to find a niche, that focus can go a long way towards sparking growth and connecting with customers in the long term.
How do I get started with consumer insight?
If you want to use consumer insight to give your small business an edge, the first stage is knowing what you want to research and what data you want to receive as a result. For most companies, working with a qualified and trained consumer insight specialist is the best way to ensure high-quality results without a steep learning curve upfront.
Knowing the basics - from what you want to know to how the data can be analysed and used - is what you'll need to get started. From there, including consumer insights into your market research and ongoing planning is an excellent way to gain ground over your competition, really understand your customers, and target your sales and marketing actions effectively.