How Brands Use Consumer Insights to Their Advantage

Kimberly Surico |
 02/06/23 |
10 min read

What Consumer Insights Matter More Than Ever

Your brand is unique and full of moving parts—including marketing teams running in various directions, each requiring specialized insight into the voice of the consumer. And since consumer opinion and behaviors change all the time, the way you reached your audience yesterday may not work today. Brands need to understand customer behaviors, which makes market research and consumer insights matter more now than ever. Companies can improve the time it takes to pivot with actionable insights from consumer intelligence–sourced from continuous social listening.

With COVID in our rearview mirror, consumers are eager to move forward as they adapt to a new way of doing things. These pivots, however, have caused marketers to struggle with elements of marketing campaigns such as product placement and targeted messaging that doesn’t feel forced. And to have customer success, brands need tools that help them become and remain agile.

In 2023 you can either pull your hair out for customer insights or invest in peace of mind with social listening tools that do the heavy lifting for you. We’ll dive into the critical nature of consumer insights with a focus on the following:

  • What are customer insights?
  • Why customer insights matter
  • What brands are using consumer insights for
  • FAQS on customer insights
  • How to put consumer insights to work for your brand

As a part of your market research, consumer insights can reveal your global audience’s inner workings so you build marketing strategies that target them effectively. Getting to know them well, and understanding their differences across geographic lines, pays dividends, as these actionable insights can be used to capitalize on all of the statistics listed below – and much more:

  • According to Emarsy’s survey, 70% of French consumers are “more loyal to retailers that offer them discounts, incentives, and rewards, provide great customer service, and market to them in a personalized way that accounts for their unique needs.”
  • 79% of consumers say user-generated content (UGC) significantly impacts their purchasing decisions. UGC generally persuades purchase intent more than influencer content or branded marketing.
  • 75% of US customers say they’ve tried new shopping behaviors since the pandemic’s beginning for economic reasons and due to shifts in personal priorities.
  • And part of changing customer behaviors is switching to online shopping, which in Germany is only increasing. In Germany, eCommerce is soaring; In 2022, forecasts predicted it would hit 97.4 billion euros. And these figures have only been growing year after year.
  • UK consumers respond well to social media marketing campaigns; 40% of UK consumers who interact with brands online spend more.

With that, let’s kick the tires and then spin around the world of consumer research and insights.

What are Consumer Insights?

Consumer insights tell you what people are talking about, where they’re talking, and how they feel about the topic at every part of their customer journey. Additionally, customer insights take a deep dive into who is taking part in the discussion, effectively dissecting the audience for trending attributes, such as:

  • Demographics
  • Psychographic data such as interests and emotions
  • Geo-location and time data
  • Key opinion leaders and influencers the audience trusts
  • Source data indicating where an audience congregates online
  • Trending topics and sub-themes
  • Sentiment drivers
  • News media getting traction with consumers

Brands that can climb into the social discussion and pick apart their target audience in this manner come away with valuable customer insights they can implement in their brand strategy, giving them a competitive advantage. Under-informed brands rely on intuition or copycat the competitors that hit the sweet spot. And playing second fiddle in this manner will never be good enough to overtake the competition and discover new target audiences.

The good news is you don’t have to. Top-tier social listening tools bring a deeper understanding of your audience and capture the discussions of interest to your brand using both qualitative and quantitative data. Artificial intelligence then uses natural language processing (NLP) to categorize the text for granular-level consumer insights. With the right toolset, social listening puts comprehensive consumer insights at your fingertips. The only thing your tools won’t do is make decisions for you.

Why Consumer Insights Matter

Customer Insights assists brands in developing a 360-degree perspective of the customer, comprehending market demand, analyzing how their company influences purchasing decisions along the customer journey, and providing a competitor comparison. Companies can use the solutions above (i.e., trending topics, demographics, sentiment, etc.) to make informed decisions about ideal product features, pricing models, and distribution routes to maximize revenue and market share.

As you probably already know, consumers want a more personalized customer experience. Brands can leverage customer insights to personalize and tailor their messaging, products, and services to their target audience’s needs, wants, and demands. And this results in better customer retention.

Your brand has unique circumstances within the market, and spending time unearthing hidden and valuable customer insights yields a wealth of benefits. For starters, it allows you to spot pain points within your customer experience and address them head-on. But there’s a whole lot more, too – let’s take a look!

How Brands are Using Customer Insights

As you are probably aware, the pandemic put the thrusters on digital transformation across the globe. Consumers have become savvy with their purchasing decisions, changing the nature of commerce. They research the brands that resonate with their values while speaking out online, adding volume to emerging market trends.

In response, brands are clamoring for business intelligence that provides a deeper understanding of the consumer’s behavioral data. It’s almost instantly recognizable when a brand is fleet of foot and adapts quickly to meet consumer pain points. This ability is not due to luck – it’s the evidence of a brand putting action to strategic customer insights. Let’s get into how they do it.

Voice of the Customer

Voice of the customer (VoC) intel has long been a thorn in the side of brands. Since consumer perceptions change so fast, traditional research methods are relegated to specific use cases. For definitive customer insights on the fly, they are too slow. By the time you collect and analyze your data, your competitors have potentially outpaced you.

More brands are bringing market research and consumer analysis in-house or farming it out to agencies. With the speed of social, brands need precision consumer intel fast. Artificial intelligence goes light-years beyond human capabilities to decipher sentiment, sentiment drivers, demographics, interests, beliefs, etc., from any topic

This clarifies consumer perceptions and shows you where conversations are taking place. That way, you’re never singing off-key to an empty auditorium. VoC intel also acts as the staging area for exploration into all the use cases that follow.

Quick meal ideas conversation by source type 1/1/23 – 2/1/23

Quick meal ideas conversation by source type 1/1/23 – 2/1/23

Inform Campaign Strategy

Like aerodynamics improves fuel economy and top speed, consumer insights uncover customer data such as consumer sentiment and talking points. As such, social analytics reveals the intricacies of your audience and the sub-topics within relevant conversations throughout their customer journey.

Talking points are great for storyboarding campaign ideas because you know which topics your audience cares deeply about. You’ll also discover where they tend to congregate, so you’re sure to aim the messaging in their direction. And with a thorough rundown of audience attributes, your targeted ads will hit with precision.

Brand Health

Your customers are the heartbeat of your brand, and acting in their best interest is how you safeguard your brand’s health. How is your brand perceived? Customer insights into sentiment, sentiment drivers, earned media channels, interests, wants, and needs go a long way in growing a satisfied customer base.

Once your average sentiment metrics are locked in, you can set alerts to notify you when things start getting out of hand. That way, you can get ahead of the issue and protect your hard-won reputation.

Measure Marketing Success

No matter how well a campaign performs, there’s always room for improvement. Once you’ve built your campaign strategy on customer insights, you can use them to measure your success. Not only that, but you can tweak messaging mid-campaign or use what you’ve learned to make your next one even more successful.

Customer Care

Keeping your customer base happy should be a top priority since it costs more to win a new customer than retain an existing one. Social listening lets you climb into your brand conversations for customer insights into your purchase funnel, customer service data, and the overall customer journey. These provide a deeper understanding of your customer’s experience, such as consumer hang-ups and pain points you can address to streamline your customer relations, grow your bottom line, and improve customer retention.


Competitive Intelligence

Consumer insight research derived from a competitor’s audience effectively builds strategy. These customer insights are easily accessible with social listening and should be used liberally. Uncover consumers’ issues with a competitor and use that intel to coax unhappy customers to your brand—creating a new target market. First, find where they’re talking and what their specific grievances are. Then apply messaging directly to the source and approach product development and placement with these customer insights in mind.

Community Management

Building a vibrant online community around your brand is well worth the effort. It’s a great way to interact with your loyal customers and attract like-minded customers. An active community is also a rich source of user-generated content (UGC) that works better than brand messaging to win converts to your brand. Use customer insights to expound on what your community loves and provide solutions to their pain points.

Issue Response

When a problem arises, people quickly talk about it on social media. Consumer insights show where the discussion is getting traction, how far your net sentiment has fallen, top authors driving the fallout, and relevant terms and hashtags making the rounds. This intel gives you the scope of the crisis and the critical details so you can focus directly on the problem. Speed matters, and as we mentioned previously, setting alerts around your baseline metrics, such as volume and sentiment, ensures you’re aware before things snowball out of control.


Product Launch

Customer insights can inform your R&D through launch day and beyond. Using them as a guide to consumers’ wants and needs ensures your products exceed customer expectations, and your messaging educates your audience. Customer insights also help you take the market’s temperature before release day to avoid conflicts, minimize competition, maximize visibility, and attain the warmest reception possible.


Where do customer insights come from?

Brands can obtain customer insights from various sources, including customer service data, products and service evaluations, blogs and forums, customer feedback and online review sites, market research, social media analytics, customer purchase history, and customer sentiments. All of these provide insights into ways to maximize customer lifetime.

How do you gather customer insights?

  • Determine what you want to learn: Before beginning consumer or market research, determine what (and how) you will collect data. Do you need more information on customer satisfaction? Or maybe you want a peek into the competition. Having a firm idea of what you want to learn keeps you focused and undistracted.
  • Determine your resources: How will you gather this valuable data, who will collect it, and who will analyze it? Ensure you have enough time and people dedicated to gathering and implementing consumer insights.
  • How do you collect data? : It is critical to consider how you will collect data. Are you aiming for a specific demographic, like Gen Z? Existing customers? Will you conduct a survey? What about focus groups? These are critical questions.
  • How will you put the data to use? Make sure that your marketing efforts are not in vain. It is critical to plan and think forward. Once you have the data, consider which departments, processes, marketing strategies, and initiatives may be affected and your plan for dealing with them.

What does a customer insights manager do?

In general, customer insight managers respond to questions when marketing new ideas and products. Customer insight managers can assist brands in anticipating their customers’ wants and needs, love and hates, by gathering and combining relevant, targeted customer data about their audience. This helps brands give what customers expect.

Putting the Right Customer Insights to Work

Consumer insights provide brands with the information they need to determine their trajectory. You may think that consumers will respond in one manner, but there’s no need for guesswork since social media acts as a 24/7 polling station for consumer behavior.

Market trends are tied to consumer perception, and brands must follow them to ensure they’re going in the right direction. Digging into relevant online discussions can show you whether you need to bring a new product to market, change the packaging, or heighten awareness on a particular platform.

One area where customer behavior has experienced a lot of turbulence in the last three years is food. In 2020 during the pandemic, the big question was how to get it and from where. In response, grocery delivery, curbside pickup, in-app orders, and meal-kit delivery saw a massive spike in adoption.

And since large swaths of the populace were staying home, home cooking and baking became the thing to do. However, children have returned to school, and many parents have returned to the office or adopted remote work as the new norm. Since many people’s lives have resumed their usual pace, what does that mean for market trends in the food category now?

Many folks still want to safeguard their health by eating well but don’t want to spend their after-work hours doing more work by cooking. Eating out all the time isn’t an option for many, nor is it desirable as inflation rears its ugly head. That being the case, we can look to market research and customer insights to shine a light on consumer behavior…

Our quick meal conversation below reveals customer feedback and trending topics. Though we can see some discussion focused on quick-serve restaurants, our clusters show consumers want quick meal ideas, and many still want them to be as nutritious as possible. Additionally, we can see meal prep companies, like Blue Apron, are still trending.

quick conversatinos top meal ideas

We can break this down further through social listening and get a better idea of the volume of conversation over the past month—and it’s been steady. Additionally, we can see sentiment; consumers still favor this subject with a positive 87% on a scale from -100 to 100.

summary metrics

A wealth of actionable insights are available within this topic to help brands position themselves for success. Demographic data reveals women leading the conversation at 58% versus men at 42%. 25-34 4-year-olds lead the discussion at 17%, followed by the 35-44 and 55-64 age brackets tied at 15%.

Using timestamp data, we find people most likely to be searching and discussing quick meal ideas at 2 pm and 5 pm. Ensuring your messaging and recipe ideas are hitting social feeds at these times will help maximize your traction. We can also quickly find the top authors, domains, and channels where the discussions occur. Getting the word out on these avenues at the right time is critical.

High-quality data such as psychographic intel (interests, beliefs, lifestyles, and emotions) also play an essential role. For instance, consumer insights that unveil unrelated interests can illuminate areas of white space you can target for further traction. Below we see consumer interest in the fast meal-prep conversation.

You’ll notice that travel, pets, and food and drink are indexing highly—a change from last year when health/fitness and fashion were indexing highly—this emphasizes the need to monitor your audiences continuously for changes. Pivoting as needed and marketing to these interests isn’t a massive leap for food-centric CPG brands and indicates how to spin your messaging for the best reception.

cpg meal ideas interests

While there are many facets to your audience that you can explore, the customer insights and use cases we’ve presented here offer the best bang for your buck. Of course, your brand will have unique needs and circumstances that will make some insights more desirable.

Regardless, your brand must dig into the conversations surrounding your products for an honest look at the voice of the customer. Enterprise social listening offers a massive upgrade to your in-house customer data, so you know how they feel about any topic, improving customer retention, customer loyalty, and your marketing efforts.

Let us be your resources company–reach out for a demo, and we’ll show you how our world-class social listening tools offer deep customer insights tailor-made for your brand.

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