Market insights remain to be one of the most difficult things to crack when creating a marketing plan. Clients often don’t understand its value especially when you are presenting the wrong insight. Marketers don’t know how to get it especially when they don’t know what it is and how important it is to a campaign.
The best way to explain its essence and significance is to show examples. Below are some of the best market insights I have ever encountered in my career and what kind of marketing campaign or brand positioning it created for the client.
Insight: 9 out of 10 online shoppers prefer talking with a warm body over the most sophisticated online store payment
Strategy: Don’t do marketing
This was late 90s. When Tony Shieh invested on Zappos, he was hell bent on doing something different from his previous work. He wanted to make the company fun. He wanted to develop an environment that people would want to work in and he wanted that reflected in their branding.
What they decided to do is not do marketing… at least not in the traditional sense. That’s a solid business strategy that came from some great market insights.
Instead of putting money on marketing, they decided to redirect their money to employee and customer satisfaction. Even as a young company, they instituted rules geared towards achieving this including a 365-day return policy.
They also put up a call center with a “make sure the customer is happy” policy. It’s a rule they take so seriously that their longest call lasted 4 hours and a half. They also don’t think twice about referring the customer to their competitor if the customer wants something they don’t have. In other words, they will do anything to ensure customer satisfaction.
Zappos office. Employees are encouraged to design their own cubicle.
One of the most popular customer service story happened when all Zappos executives went to New York and at 3 in the morning couldn’t find a pizza place. They called, and didn’t introduce themselves as Zappos executives, their customer service asking help to find a restaurant in New York that would deliver pizza at 3am. After some awkward pauses, not only did their customer service representative give them the number, he called the pizza place for them.
The idea was to gain free media via word of mouth. It was a huge risk but it paid off.
Insight: You can’t apply to be a member of the most exclusive clubs, you need to be invited
Strategy: Don’t sell the product
Ferrari has a legendary brand positioning. It is one of the few brands that have kept its “premium” image without advertising. It’s all because of their great market insights.
From the beginning, Enzo Ferrari was hell bent on creating the most premium car brand ever. At the time, the market was dominated by Auto Union and Mercedes. Ferrari realized that his car’s production cost was so high and if he follows the regular rule in marketing, he would need to spend three times the production cost of each car to sell one. He didn't see the value. There is something else amiss. He doesn’t see the connection between a premium brand and selling. The most exclusive clubs and organization never allow people to walk in and become a member. Invitations must be extended.
He then decided that he will not be selling Ferrari cars. People must be “qualified” to buy. In the early days of Ferrari, and in some countries till today, those who want to buy a Ferrari car will have to submit credentials. If they are determined to be deserving of a Ferrari car, then they will be allowed to buy one.
This strategy remains to this day. In fact, they have come up with some of the most seemingly ridiculous “ownership” rules. They have cars that can only be driven by the person who owns it. Their Ferrari 599XX (shown below) cannot be driven off track and only on factory events. If you want to drive it outside of factory events, you need to have your race mechanics with you. If you don’t have them, Ferrari will fly their team to where you are to set it up for you. They made 30 of this and one went to Michael Schumacher (shown below).
Enzo Ferrari, the only line named after the owner and created to commemorate Ferrari’s first F1 title, was sold only to those who already owned F40 and F50.
Ferrari also never did advertise, at least not in the early years. Their one and only advertising piece was Michael Schumacher.
Client: Car Manufacturer
Market Insights: When someone is about to buy a car, they ask other car owners or those who know a lot about cars. They don’t rely on advertisements.
Strategy: Talk with car owners, not new customers.
One of the greatest market insights I have ever heard was from a car research. It was back when I was still new in the marketing and advertising industry. It was for a car company. They were about to launch a new line.
We were asked to conduct a marketing study and one of the key findings is that those who are about to buy a new car would ask people who already have a car and those who know about car instead of rely on advertisements or other marketing materials.
The marketing materials were then geared towards those who already knew about cars or already owned cars. The language, the channels and the manner by which the marketing materials were delivered through means which car owners would be able to access.
Client: Casual wear for men
Insight: Wives shop for their husbands
Strategy: Advertise to women
This was in the 80s and this line of clothing specialized in “affordable suits for everyday use”. They cater to men in their 30s and 40s. Market research was still young then but it was inspired after one of the account managers in the agency stated he doesn’t buy his suits, his wife does and the marketing materials they were preparing were useless to him.
The client agreed to fund a close group discussion to get market insights. The claim of the account manager was confirmed. Majority of married men, broad C market, don’t buy their clothes, the wife does. All the marketing materials were then changed to speak to wives or girlfriend or mothers.
Even the media placements were changed so that it goes to channels that women access.
There are agencies that allow for insights that are more creative in nature. It may not dictate the whole strategy but inspires creative materials. For example, one hotdog company stated that behind every bright child is a brighter mother. It inspired creative materials that showed both mother and child doing cute silly things.
Another insight was for another car built for cold countries. The insight stated, “How does a snow truck driver get to his truck?” It inspired ads featuring a car being driven by the snow truck driver to get to his truck after several days of heavy snow.
These market insights are acceptable too but not as strong as a consumer or market insights.
You may also want to check:
- Marketing Planning Process Part 1: 3Cs
- Starbucks Marketing Plan: An Assessment
- Sites That Can Give You Creative Ideas