Here we are turning the corner into year three of the pandemic, and there’s still no sign of normalcy. As such, logic is out the window when analyzing consumer behavior at scale, and brands are frantic to keep up – making consumer insights matter more now than ever.
The fourth wave of illness is making its rounds, as the stock market swells and ‘now hiring’ signs fill store windows. And holiday shopping hits new highs as ports around the world congeal into parking lots. By and large, consumers have adjusted to pandemic life and adapt quickly as new situations arise. However, these pivots play havoc with brands fumbling with product placement and poignant messaging.
Right now, there is no ‘set it, and forget it’ with your audience. Brands must stay on their toes with actionable consumer intelligence sourced from continuous social listening. Your brand is a multi-faceted entity with teams going all different directions and each needing custom insight into the voice of the customer.
In 2022 you can either pull your hair out for consumer 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:
- What are consumer insights?
- What brands are using consumer insights for
- How to put consumer insights to work for your brand
Consumer insights get you into the inner workings of your audience, so you build strategies that target them effectively. Getting to know them well pays dividends as these insights can be used to capitalize on all of the statistics listed below – and much more.
- People are drawn to content marketing that stands out. 61% of consumers say they’re more inclined to purchase from brands with unique content and marketing styles.
- 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 beginning of the pandemic for both economic reasons and due to shifts in personal priorities.
- 80% of shoppers say a brand’s customer experience is equally as important as the products it produces and the services it provides.
With that, let’s kick the tires a bit and then take a spin around the world of consumer insights.
What are Consumer Insights?
Quite simply, consumer insights tell you what people are talking about, where they’re talking, and how they feel about the topic. Additionally, consumer insights take a deep dive into who is taking part in the discussion, effectively dissecting the audience for trending attributes, such as:
- 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 audience in this manner come away with consumer insights they can implement in their brand strategy. 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.
The good news is you don’t have to. Top-tier social listening tools capture the discussions of interest to your brand. 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.
Your brand has its unique circumstances within the market, and spending the time to unearth hidden consumer insights yields a wealth of benefits. It allows you to spot pain points within your audience and address them head-on, for starters. But there’s a whole lot more, too – let’s take a look!
How Brands are Using Consumer Insights
As you are probably aware, the pandemic put the thrusters on the digital transformation across the globe. Consumers have gotten savvy with their purchasing decisions in the process, changing the nature of commerce. They research the brands that resonate with their values while speaking out online, adding volume to emerging trends.
In response, brands are clamoring for business intelligence that clues them in on consumer behavior. 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 consumer 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 have been relegated to specific use cases. For definitive consumer insights on the fly, they are simply too slow. By the time you collect and analyze your data, your competitors have potentially outpaced you.
Especially since the dawn of the pandemic, brands are bringing 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.
Inform Campaign Strategy
Just like aerodynamics improves fuel economy and top speed, consumer insights uncover consumer sentiment and talking points. As such, social analytics reveals the intricacies of your audience and the sub-topics within relevant conversations.
Talking points alone 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.
Your customers are the heartbeat of your brand, and acting in their best interest is how you safeguard your brand health. Consumer insights into sentiment, sentiment drivers, earned media channels, interests, wants, and needs go a long way in growing a satisfied customer base.
Once you have your average sentiment metrics 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 consumer 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.
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 consumer insights into your purchase funnel and customer experience. These insights reveal consumer hang-ups and pain points you can address to streamline your customer relations and grow your bottom line.
Consumer insights derived from a competitor’s audience are very effective for strategy building. These 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. 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 consumer insights in mind.
Building a vibrant online community around your brand is well worth the effort. It’s a great way to interact with your most committed customers and attract like-minded customers in the process. 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 consumer insights to expound on what your community loves and provide solutions to their pain points.
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 key 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 made aware before things snowball out of control.
Consumer insights can inform your R&D all the way through launch day and beyond. Using them as a guide to consumers’ wants and needs ensures your products exceed expectations and your messaging educates your audience. Consumer insights also help you take the temperature of the market before release day, so you avoid conflicts, minimize competition, maximize visibility, and attain the warmest reception possible.
Putting the Right Consumer 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.
Trends are tied to consumer perception, and brands need to 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 simply heighten awareness on a particular platform.
One area where consumer behavior has experienced a lot of turbulence since the pandemic is food. In the beginning, 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 gone back to the office. Since many people’s lives are busier than they were this time last year, the novelty of being a home chef has yielded to meal prep fatigue.
However, many folks still want to safeguard their health by eating well, but they don’t want to spend their after-work hours slaving over the stove. Eating out all the time isn’t an option for many, nor is it desirable as Omicron makes the rounds. That being the case, trending consumer behavior leans in the direction of meals that are fast, healthy, and headache-free.
Brands are taking note and using consumer insights to meet consumers at their point of need. A recent article on eating behaviors mentions that “Campbell [Soup Company] has noticed a shift in cooking habits based on surveys it conducts with consumers. While many people are still eating more at home than before the pandemic, Campbell says consumers are indicating that they want quicker lunches while they work from home or eat at the office. They also want easily prepared dinners after a long day. Campbell says consumers aim to make dinner in an average of under 18 minutes.”
Campbell has adjusted its marketing to highlight how its products help consumers get meals done quickly. And consumer insights ensured that they were on the right track with meeting consumer needs. Additionally, their customers are helping to spread the word with quick meal ideas keeping the brand top of mind with like-minded consumers.
What can you do in 1 minute + 15 seconds? I love this tip to heat up a Campbell’s Well Yes! Power Bowl for a quick meal that is packed with protein, veggies, and fiber! https://t.co/8KYu9xQ6pG #ad #LiveBright #EatBright Thanks @shespeaksup!
— Daisy TrendyMomReviews (@trendymomreview) December 14, 2021
We can confirm through social listening that fast meal ideas are a hot topic on social media. Consumers are overwhelmingly positive on the subject as net sentiment is soaring at 92% on a scale of -100 to 100.
A wealth of consumer insights are available within this topic to help brands position themselves for success. Demographic data reveals women leading the conversation at 59% versus men at 41%. 25–34-year-olds lead the discussion at 19%, followed by the 35-44 age bracket at 17%.
Using timestamp data, we find people most likely to be searching and discussing quick meal ideas at 8 am and 6 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.
Psychographic data such as 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 interests within the fast meal-prep conversation. You’ll notice that outdoors, travel, fashion, and health/fitness are indexing highly. Marketing to these interests isn’t a huge leap for food-centric CPG brands and indicates how to spin your messaging for the best reception.
Aside from the others we’ve mentioned so far, one of the consumer insights brands will want to pay particular attention to is what videos consumers are watching. For instance, in this conversation, people are interested in videos that get right to the point. This isn’t surprising given the popularity of short-form video. As such, you’ll want to keep that in mind as it relates to your content marketing, the influencers you choose, and the UGC you promote.
While there are many facets to your audience that you can explore, the consumer insights and use cases we’ve presented here offer the best bang for your buck. Of course, your brand will have its unique needs and circumstances that will make some insights more desirable than others.
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 consumer data, so you know how they feel about any topic at any time. Reach out for a demo, and we’ll show you how our world-class social listening tools offer deep consumer insights tailor-made for your brand.