Are you listening to the emerging counter-cultural stories?
(Posted 25th March 2019)
Creating brand’s cultural relevance through contradictions
(Posted 07th March 2019)
Why creative briefing doesn't work
(Posted 02nd October 2018)
Accidental brilliance? Looking at #Dhara Jalebi 20 years later
(Posted 16th December 2016)
The clash of Indian masculinities
(Posted 5th November 2014)
Is the future of big brand ideas dark?
(Posted 5th September 2017)
Isn’t it time the hotel industry borrowed a trick from Airbnb?
(Posted 29th July 2018)
A different kind of a hero
(Posted 8th March 2017)
Gol gappas or gold medals? Which side of #Dangal are you on?
(Posted 1st January 2017)
Strategic importance of vulnerability
(Posted 28th June 2016)
Anushka’s trolling comes from innate cultural belief
(Posted 15th May 2016)
Goose pimple stuff: All time awesome campaigns in India – I
(Posted 15th May 2016)
Well played sir!: All time awesome campaigns in India – II
(Posted 15th May 2016)
Mobiles, mobility and the importance of guilt
(Posted 15th May 2016)
Where in the food chain is your food brand?
(Posted 12th February 2014)
Return of the angry young man
(Posted 4th January 2015)
Amul – ye butter hai ya twitter?
(Posted 18th December 2014)
Who’s your enemy?
(Posted 15th November 2014)
Six pack abs, designer stubbles and tattoos
(Posted 18th September 2014)
Are we falling in love with Samsung`s geeky authenticity over Apple`s hype?
(Posted 12th September 2014)
Is your brand missing in your brand’s social media strategy?
(Posted 15th April 2014)
Brand rejuvenation: is your brand trapped?
(Posted 27th March 2014)
Aren’t the new age brands being outdated in their brand thinking?
(Posted 12th February 2014)
Why brand managers should spend more time on jokes and cartoons…
(Posted 25th March 2014)
Why the cricket team’s loss bothers the parent in us
(22nd January 2012)
Shallow shlacking: why Hindu’s campaign gets the buzz
(Posted 1st February 2012)
Shall we stop targeting our audience now
(5th February 2012)
How do you sleep at night?
(17th June 2012)
Is there a problem in your insight?
(25th January 2012)

Is there a problem in your insight?

Or more directly, could you be confusing your brand’s problem with an insight? They look and sound deceptively similar. And for good reasons. They are both about your consumer and they are both about their mind/thinking.

Not surprising that so many brand conversations confuse the problem with the insight! Here are a few common ones you come across:

‘Consumers don’t care too much about brands in our category, they’d buy any known name if it is reasonably priced’


‘Consumers do not understand the technology/science in this category, so they buy basis faith or results they can perceive tangibly’

At this stage you are probably thinking one or more of these –a) why aren’t these insights? b) how do you know when it is an insight and when it is a problem? c) Is this academic hair splitting or does it really matter in the real world?

Here’s a simple answer to the first two – an insight points at potentially WHY your consumer could come to your brand while the problem explains WHY NOT. Simple isn’t it, the latter is the lock while the former is the possible key!

Paradoxically, what makes this more complex is that the problem is easier to identify. Your research will point at it, as will your sales team and very often, just plain common sense.

So why isn’t having just the problem sufficient? Why can’t we treat it like an insight?

Simple – a strategy based on just the problem statement tends to become an argument rather than an idea! Have you seen such messages around you (or worse, been responsible for them!):

- ‘Do you buy xyz with your eyes closed?’
- ‘Not all brands are the same…, if you look closer (let me force feed the science now)’

Scarily, these are strategies that pass concept test and ad pre-test more often than not! Since they make an argument based on logic, it gets difficult for your respondents to say no without looking silly ? . Even when you know deep down that this isn’t quite the unlock your brand needed.

So how do insights work better? Very simply they start with something the consumer wants already. Take an everyday example – kids are fussy milk drinkers. Would you argue with them about the importance of calcium for bones or would you simply tap into what they most likely want – to be a super hero and link that to their drinking milk?

Now see the difference between ‘Kids hate milk because they find the taste boring’ vs ‘Kids want to be super heroes because they feel powerless’. The first is a problem while the second opens up a possible solution mothers and grandmothers have known for ages.

Knowing the kid’s sense of powerlessness in the world dominated by adults with more authority and brute power is the starting point of new possibilities. It tells you what you could possibly promise with your brand.

And it needn’t be limited to promising Super Heroism. That’s where ideation comes in –it could be about their wit that makes their lack of strength a non-issue, it could be escapism into a world where no one is an adult…the possibilities are endless.

As you can see, kids feel powerless is fairly obvious once you hear it (though I can imagine the disbelief on the face of some pester power punished parents!). And yet, regular market research and common sense do not usually reveal them. That’s where processes designed to look past what’s consciously evident come in.

Also, notice how it is not merely about ‘milk’, but a larger need that many categories address (yes, including Ben 10 comics and Harry Potter). At the same time you can see how it is also relevant when it comes to making them drink milk.

In light of this you can see the difference in the strategies of Colgate Total vs Pepsodent. Both promising longer lasting protection from germs, but one is clearly an argument (you don’t know there are germs on your teeth soon after brushing) while the other taps into powerful insights on the new mother.

That’s how insights are – unmet needs that are larger, yet category relevant. They help you solve problems with ideas rather than getting stuck into arguments. And therein lies the answer to the third question above. Strategies based on problems rather than insights risk wastage of marketing resources and sub optimal results.

Maybe it’s time then to revisit what your strategy articulates as insight. And see if you spot a ‘problem’ there?