consumer data is king, consumer insight is the queen
“consumer-driven-data” – that is a principle in marketing that is central in any marketing or advertising plan. it is also often used and referred to in many marketing and advertising plans and yet in reality it is hardly used and even more often very few really know what it is and how to find it. it is in many ways something of one of the most “lip service” done in marketing and advertising (“strategic” is another lip service”).
here is one article we found at the Washington Post on fashion retailer Timberland where consumer data is king and was used to renew and in many ways reinvent the brand to a successful turn-around. while consumer data is king, the consumer insight is queen.
always, it is not enough to have consumer data, what is equally important and to some degree slightly more important is to know how to understand, interpret and translate consumer data into a consumer insight that is used in marketing and advertising plans.
it is in that bridge between consumer data and consumer insight where most marketing and advertising practitioners fail at or are weak at.
How Timberland used customer data to reboot its brand
STRATHAM, N.H. — There are few shoes more recognizable than theTimberland yellow boot. You know the one: The high-top styling, the sturdy-looking nubuck leather, the rubber lug sole to protect feet from sheets of rain or piles of snow.
But the durable boot — and the rest of Timberland’s footwear and apparel line — was having trouble weathering a fast-changing retail climate.
Timberland’s revenue was basically flat from 2006 to 2012. It was losing market share in the Americas, its home turf and most crucial market. And it was barreling forward with a confusing and slapdash patchwork of marketing and product strategies.
Here in the United States, it had become something of a hip-hop brand as rappers name-checked “Timbs” in countless songs. In Asia, it was thought of as a comfort brand; in Italy, it was more fashion-oriented. Still more customers perceived Timberland as gear for the rugged outdoorsman, the kind of guy who hikes in the woods for days with nothing but his backpack and his Eagle Scout skills.
“The brand had become stale in many ways, and the focus wasn’t there,” said Stewart Whitney, Timberland’s president.
In the past year, though, Timberland has staged an impressive turnaround, with salessurging 15 percent in the most recent quarter even as the broader retail industry has posted only modest growth. Its sales have improved in every global market and every product category, delivering a fatter profit margin — about 13 percent in 2014, up from 8 percent in 2011.
Timberland has revamped everything from its product design to marketing to merchandising strategies. And data science provided the fuel and the framework for each of its changes.
The company says that the cornerstone of the comeback has been a two-year customer study in which it collected data from 18,000 people across eight countries. In analyzing the trove of responses, Timberland was able to diagnose its problems and to zero in on its ideal customer — an urban dweller with a casual interest in the outdoors.
“Research wasn’t a driving factor as much in the previous 20 years,” said Jim Davey, vice president of global marketing. “It was kind of a product-driven organization.”
This data-driven approach was implemented after the family-run business was bought in 2011 by VF Corp., an $11 billion apparel company based in Greensboro, N.C., that has undertaken a similar analysis at other brands, including the North Face and Vans.
what is this queen? how do we define and how do we get this queen that is consumer insight?
1. consumer data is not consumer insight – results from consumer research, be it quantitative or qualitative is NOT yet consumer insight, they are just raw data on consumer information, attitudes or preferences. these are just raw data that needs to put into some kind of a mental machine that will churn own consumer insight. many confuse “consumer data” and “consumer insight” as one and the same as when they certainly are not.
for consumer data to become consumer insight, you need to put a few of them together, connect them into a sensible whole and get them to jump out of a trampoline. consumer insight is something that needs to leap out of something, a composite of many points where eventually what comes out is very different from what came in.
2. your experiences or observations, those of the advertising and marketing executives, from the client or from the ad agency is NOT consumer insight nor is it the penultimate consumer data – okay, fine what you or your client think may be part of consumer data and consumer insight, it is not in no way the whole thing or even the core of what consumer data and consumer insight is. a person or even several people’s points of view, experiences or observations are of course valid but they may not be what most of the consumers think and feel. they may or may not be the prevailing and most dominant among the target market. the real and maybe the painful truth is that we, those of us in marketing and advertising are NOT the target market or target audience. our views and experiences are at best anecdotal and taking them as THE consumer data and consumer insight is like playing russian roulette.
3. once the right consumer insight is discovered, it becomes magic where everything makes sense, it gains power on its own and everything flows – that is how powerful consumer insights are. once you find it, your marketing and advertising plan will flow very smoothly from start to finish. you will see that ideas, concepts and strategies build on each other, on to like a strong pyramid. that is how consumer insights are used – they become the core of what you do,
it is possible to have several consumer insights and several may be used in a marketing and advertising plan but there will be a very clear order of things where the weight of one is the shadow of the rest.
we have been witness to just how powerful a consumer insight is. finding it defines the success of a brand. do not use it as lip service, take it seriously, its discovery will make you.