Kristen Marino

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The Art and Science of Being Insightful

We make observations every day. Whenever we notice what someone is doing, thinking or saying, we are making factual claims about the people and companies around us. This process is essential for organizations and individuals to start thinking about how they should best build meaningful relationships with their publics.

But…those observations are not enough.

Professionals must interpret the findings. They must critically analyze the observations, as well as consider context and psychodemographics, to deduce the WHY behind the facts. Only then will companies have unique findings that can lead to compelling, emotionally and culturally relevant strategies and tactics. These can resonate with audiences and allow companies to reach them effectively, efficiently, uniquely and appropriately.

Suppose, for example, that you are the lead for a social campaign designed to encourage phone calls among teens. You would most likely find this data during your secondary research:


After examining this, you would find that teens do make phone calls – but mostly after first using at least one other method. This suggests that teens reserve their phone calls to people they have spoken with multiple times before – presumably, those with whom they are close.

Those facts are a start. But simply knowing them will not enable you to launch an effective campaign. Instead, you need insight. You must understand WHY teens display this behavior before you can persuade them to change.

Perhaps after primary research you find that teens lack adequate social skills to think on their feet during a phone conversation with someone they do not know well, which gives them feelings of anxiety and makes them resort to texting. Or, perhaps there are teens who prefer phone calls, but due to peer pressure do not engage for fear of ostracism.

Those insights would let you craft an effective, multi-faceted campaign. They allow you to narrow your target – teens who give into peer pressure or who lack social skills – which helps tailor your messaging. If you relied on facts alone, you’d be unlikely to cause a behavior change because you wouldn’t be attacking the core driver of the action. Being insightful is a science and an art; it is using your facts, context, analytical skills and creativity to determine the reasons behind behavior so that professionals can create meaningful change.

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Open Space in the Soda Market

Brands must have meaningful purposes and target specific niches. They must evoke positive emotional connections with consumers so shoppers will purchase them. While three soda brands – Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper and Pepsi – have unique messaging, there may be space for a new brand focused on individualism and defying the mainstream.

Coca-Cola’s Facebook messaging radiates with themes of closeness, warmth and nostalgia. It evokes happy emotions that create strong, positive affective links, which might persuade consumers. Its “#ShareACoke” hashtag reflects this, as well as its advertisements.

Coke’s planners probably discovered when, where and why people have soda. It probably learned that people have it when socializing and want to feel connected. Coke’s advertisements resonate with me because they remind me of memories with friends, leaving me more likely to remember those happy moments when I see Coke. These communications are probably not meant for those who do not enjoy socializing or soda.

Dr Pepper focuses on taste, necessity and craving. Its Facebook is filled with themes of wanting, relating to how people feel when they simply cannot go without the sugary beverage.

Researchers probably discovered when and why people want Dr Pepper and how they feel when they cannot have it. They might have found that people want it immediately and hate to wait. This could have led to copy about satisfying your craving, appealing to people’s physiological states and trying to evoke desire. This does not resonate with me because I strongly dislike Dr Pepper. Likewise, this strategy would not work for those who do not crave drinks or dislike Dr Pepper.

Finally, Pepsi’s messages are filled with celebrity, fame and football. They appeal to the need for social desirability, suggesting that if people drink Pepsi they will be popular, well-liked and trendy. For example, Pepsi recently did a massive sweepstakes.

Planners at Pepsi could have discovered that people drink soda to feel popular. They might have learned that people want to feel accepted and wish they could be like celebrities. This does not resonate with me because I prefer Coke, but it could work on those who want to be trendy and do not have strong preferences.

After evaluating these competitors, I think there might be an open space for a new brand. It could focus on individualism, being yourself without regard for what others are doing. While Coke focuses on camaraderie, Pepsi on being trendy and Dr Pepper on cravings, there might be a niche of those who want to be different and not stick to the status quo.