Insight or just plain fact?

A lot of our recent projects seem to have involved uncovering insights. For example we have been running on-line communities (called Co-Creation Crowds) with users of hair styling products and premium packaged cider.  In these crowds we begin by trying to find some new insights into people’s behaviours or attitudes. StyleCommunityAdsThese insights become the wellspring of new ideas, concepts and prototypes, all developed with the on-line community with a little help from our designers. The trouble is, if we’re running a crowd of 500 people over a month or two we soon get tens of thousands of comments, observations and statistics. So the problem is where do you start? What qualifies as an real insight? So we’ve come up with a definition that guides us when we’re sifting:

An insight is a non-obvious user observation that is compelling enough to inspire creative ideas or innovations.

I guess that this definition of an insight involves a degree of hindsight. But in a way, that’s the point. We’re judging the potential of an observation, its likelihood to unfold into something useful. Insights are those facts that excite you emotionally, make you see things in a new light or get your imaginations working.
toilet_fly_03You may have heard about the urinals in Schipol aiport with pictures of a fly etched in? The insight was that men like something to aim at. Result? 80% less spillage.
Dyson identified that consumers really wanted to see what they were hoovering up and so made a see-through cylinder.
Diageo found that alcopops were perceived by some as too sweet and for inexperienced drinkers, so there was an unmet need for a more adult drink like Smirnoff Ice.

It’s very tempting to think that if you sit in a quiet place you will eventually Have An Idea. You may well do. But it’s a lot easier starting with a cracking insight.

As ever we’d love to hear your views.

David Simoes-Brown

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