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Vulnerability in Great Consumer Insights

One of the most frustrating definitions of a good insight is “you know it when you see it.”  But I still remember the insight that took my breath away—about four years ago.

We were working on underarm deodorant and we asked our Creative Consumers® associates (CCs)—people of all shapes, sizes and ages—to generate insights. A middle-aged mom said, “I have enough to worry about when I make a first impression.” It socked me in the gut. It was so real, so honest, and really got to the heart of insecurity—which is the territory that deodorant lives in. 

I think the reason this insight worked so hard is that it revealed her vulnerability. It got us through the layers of appearance, composure, and political correctness right to the heart of her emotions. 

A good insight is what touches us in that place. The place that motivates us to act, buy, or re-think in an unconscious way. And you can’t get to the unconscious through the rational, cautious mind. You have to dig down through the layers and get to the root. 

The Brené Brown TED video on vulnerability has made its rounds on social media and many people have thought about how it fits for them personally. I’d like to throw out that this gift of vulnerability also applies to marketing. Consider the possibilities for:

  • More emotional marketing campaigns that tug at consumers’ need for connection.
  • Insights that dig down so deep they create a visceral reaction—or make you realize that you have a need that you never realized.
  • Benefits that make consumers feel like you really KNOW them.

I think the best insight generators are comedians.  If you think about Jerry Seinfeld, Ray Romano, George Carlin—their humor was based around insights. They show us things about our behavior that we didn’t realize; and when offered up to us, it makes us laugh at ourselves. 

So whether through laughter or emotional recall, finding that vulnerable state, looking at it, and realizing the power it has in our lives can really bring into focus the things we should recognize—like breath-stealing insights—when we see them.


©2012 Ideas To Go, Inc. All rights reserved.

Emeritus Facilitator Christine Haskins

Christine Haskins is an Emeritus Facilitator and Former Vice President of Customer Experience at Ideas To Go. She worked with customer-centered innovation for Fortune 500 companies across all market categories and industries.