What is Product Intelligence and How Does It Work

In our increasingly competitive world, tailoring your products, marketing, and innovation to shifting consumer behaviors is critical to keep your customers coming back. As such, social listening is one of the most powerful tools your brand can use to tweak your products and increase sales.

At the end of the day, you want your products to fly off the shelves, and that’s where product intelligence comes in. It informs how consumers perceive your existing products as well as emerging trends and attributes that customers are adopting. Even if your products are performing well, there’s always a little more you can do to get better mileage from your product line.

Specifically, we’ll explore the following:

  • What is product intelligence?
  • How StarKist uses product intelligence
  • Use cases of product intelligence in action

There are many factors that product intelligence can inform. Here are a few statistics in areas that can be used to build better product performance:

  • Packaging plays a critical role in how your products are received. 85% of consumers say color is their primary reason for buying a particular product over another. 80% believe color makes a brand more recognizable.
  • Social listening is a must for product intelligence. 69% of the US population uses social media and spends two hours on various channels, often discovering and talking about brands and products.
  • Consumers are increasingly eco-conscious, and product intelligence helps brands build and maintain cultural connections. For example, 45% of Gen Zrs prioritize sustainability over cost – which could be an angle your product messaging takes to increase purchase intent.

Now, let’s jump into the basics before sharing a few product intelligence examples in action!

What is Product Intelligence?

Quite simply, product intelligence captures the voice of the customer using social listening and media analytics to develop impactful consumer experiences around your products. It informs your existing product reception to discover what people love and dislike about your product.

Additionally, product intelligence explores emerging trends and shifting consumer behavior to inform innovation. Product intelligence tells you who is using your product so you can dig into your audience’s behaviors, attributes, and emotions. This intel can inform necessary marketing adjustments, packaging upgrades, or additions to your product line.

Since consumer behaviors are built on perceptions that never stay static, it’s essential that your product intelligence stays up to date on emerging trends. As opinions shift, it’s necessary to move with the times. As such, product intelligence built on social listening will let you know why sales are lagging on a once strong performing product. That way, you can make changes that meet your consumers where they are now.

In a nutshell, product intelligence gathers intel about your products and mines general consumer opinions and emerging trends to inform innovation. Consumer opinion is a moving target, and your product performance hinges on staying relevant.

Now, let’s look at product intelligence in action!

How StarKist Uses Product Intelligence

StarKist has been in business for over 100 years and is the number one tuna brand in the US. You’re probably familiar with their famous cans of tuna, and although that’s what propelled them into households everywhere, they haven’t been content to rest on their laurels.

They’ve been steadily innovating with new product lines, tweaks to existing products, and reformatting their packaging to highlight attributes their customers care about. Product intelligence based on social listening-driven market research is how they’ve done it. And they’ve found remarkable success.

First and foremost, StarKist has paid attention to changing consumer needs and has shifted towards becoming not just a tuna company but a healthy food and lifestyle brand. They’ve responded with changes to the ingredients they use, eliminating artificial flavors, colorings, and corn syrup.

Additionally, they uncovered the fact their consumers led busy lifestyles and would benefit from additional packaging options. As such, they developed their extensive line of Tear, Eat, & Go tuna pouches and microwavable meal options with resounding success among busy families.

Now here’s a really cool thing they did. Looking to breathe new life into a segment of their tuna pouch line, they turned to their social listening tools to uncover product intelligence that would help them boost sales on these items.

They found that consumers were already showing an increased interest in flavor profiles with ethnic and spicy flavors. This was an undercurrent of emerging trends in diversity and cultural influence. It let them know they had a solid chance of boosting these flavor profiles if they could highlight what caught consumers’ attention.

Social listening revealed that consumers were particularly interested in phrasing around terms such as wild-caught, protein, calories, and bold flavors. With that product intelligence in hand, they reworked their packaging on their lagging products to highlight these terms, which resulted in a booming increase in sales – some of which topped 138%!


Here’s the kicker though, they didn’t change the contents of the package in any way. That’s the power of product intelligence powered by social listening.

How Product Intelligence Works in Marketing

The importance of understanding narratives that influence your consumers cannot be overstated. Falling afoul of consumer opinion and emerging trends is a recipe for disaster. Therefore, if you want to market your products effectively, you need to know how relevant conversations are structured.

113 Industries is one of the world’s premier agencies that works with many of the world’s top brands to help them better understand their market. And they use social listening and media analytics to do it. They’ve developed a comprehensive methodology to dig deep into the topical narratives surrounding topics of concern for brands, which allows them to make informed decisions.

They did a study using NetBase Quid on the social conversation surrounding the controversial use of Palm oil to better understand consumer opinion around the topic. This approach perfectly illustrates how you need to segment a social discussion for product intelligence that can be used in your marketing efforts.

Palm oil is controversial for health reasons and the harmful environmental strains it puts on the planet. As such, if your brand uses palm oil in its products, then this is a conversation you need to be tuned to.

Knowing who is talking and their concerns can help you strategize your marketing and product innovation, so you stay on the right side of emerging trends such as sustainability and health consciousness.

113 Industries analyzed over 240 thousand original social media posts between May 2019 and April 2020 to uncover the scope of the palm oil conversation and see what messaging should be targeted and what should be avoided. Their study boiled down people involved in the conversation into five key groups led by those with firmly held opinions and vegans.

They then ranked these groups based on their favorability towards palm oil to understand which groups were likely to be influenced by other groups. They found that using those in the strong voice group could likely be targeted to influence inquirers, social standard followers, and loud vegans.

Using social listening to explore these groups, they ultimately uncovered platforms, language, and consumer segments they could focus on to accentuate the positive aspects of sustainable palm oil.

Conversely, they also uncovered language, narratives, and user groups that should be avoided in marketing palm oil. As you can see, product intelligence can inform your marketing department so you can navigate your product messaging through tricky situations.

Is your brand’s product intelligence on point? Reach out for a demo, and we’ll help guide your products and messaging through uncharted territory.

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