Topic: Research/Metrics

Marketing Research Vs Insight?

Posted by Anonymous on 250 Points
More and more of my contacts refer to "Insight" when they would previously have talked about Market Research.

The cynic in me tells me that this is just a new label for the same thing, or at least that this will be the effect, as the people I talk with appear to have very vague ideas of the difference (if any).

I do have an idea of how to explain the difference to myself but before posting that, I would be very happy to hear more views -- is there a universally agreed difference, and if so, please explain!

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  • Posted by telemoxie on Member
    I provide market development and telemarketing services to small companies... and it seems to me that CEOs with smaller budgets need quick information for tactial planning. For example, I'm making calls for a software developer, gathering opinions from folks in various industries. I do not think my procedure is rigorous enough to qualify as "market research", but I hope we will end up with some "insights".

    It seems to me that as companies get smaller, budgets shrink, product lifecycles get shorter, as competition reacts faster, as niche marketing becomes more prevalent, as more info is quickly available, as managers push for increasingly quick results, and as the world turns faster in general, that "insight" will gain in popularity over more rigorous "market research".
  • Posted by Candureactor on Member
    From an industry perspective, the field of Marketing Research is a discipline that is made up of various aspects, such as social research, competitive intelligence, data mining and knowledge management. Marketing Research falls into the arena of social sciences, which as the name implies is trying to use scientific method ( to measure human behavior.

    By applying certain methods and rigor, practitioners attempting to create replicable, reliable models for such things as improving the efficiency of sales and marketing; development of new products; opening of new markets; and measurement of advertising effectiveness, to name a few. Marketing Research uses techniques such as sample surveys, polls, focus groups to answer business questions.

    To answer your question, I suspect that your contacts are suggesting that “insight” lacks the formal rigor of Marketing Research. In other words, insight does not provide answers with any statistical accuracy. For example, one of the more widely used tools is Internet surveying, which in most cases cannot be statistically accurate to a population. For instance, if you wanted to test if a new product would be popular, you could send a survey to your e-mail newsletter subscribers and get back results or insight. This is not statistically accurate because, for starters, the subscriber base does not represent the whole market and the respondents are “self-selecting” not randomly obtained. However, the results of the insight, coupled with a deeper understanding of your market may be enough on which to make a competent decision.

    You can gather more information by doing an Internet search on Marketing Research Associations.
  • Posted by mgoodman on Accepted
    A few years ago I was contracted to ghost-write a book about how successful executives gain insights into what's driving their businesses.

    I interviewed several dozen VPs-Marketing and CEOs in the US and Europe, across a range of industries, with a heavy concentration in consumer packaged goods.

    They all referenced that magic, "Aha! moment" when something clicked and they got the insight that led to a brilliant marketing/business decision. Sometime it was related to a market research finding, and sometime it wasn't.

    Market research generates useful information for decision-making, but it's not the same as an insight. An insight is a flash of instant understanding, and it can't be programmed to happen. It just happens.

    It's more likely to happen if your brain has a lot of relevant information bouncing around in it (like the stuff you get from market research), but you can't confuse the stimulus (market research) with the response (a flash of understanding).

    And while market research is often quantitative and statistically valid, projectable, objective, etc., an insight is an UNDERSTANDING, not a logical process based on data.

    Read Malcolm Gladwell's "Blink" for an interesting, fast explanation of the "flash of understanding" phenomenon. (Unfortunately, he hadn't written the book when I wrote mine, so I couldn't reference it!)

    Another good book on the subject, though, is Steven Pinker's "How the Mind Works." It's a lot longer and more scientific/academic than Gladwell's book, and the subject matter covered is a lot broader.

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