Making effective comms by placing human insight at the heart

Seeking human insights is at the core of every brand. Whether it’s a human truth we know to be true on a larger scale, such as our need to feel loved and connected to those around us, or a more nuanced insight that unveils a need that consumers aren’t even aware that they have yet, such as the Amazon Dash enabling consumers to order FMCG products at the moment they run out. All great campaigns start by asking a fundamental question: what does our consumer think, feel, want and need?

While you may as well be asking how long is a piece of string, the insights gleaned from asking these questions in the right way can be utilised in a range of ways in order to create effective campaign. When it comes to individual brands, campaigns can tap into newly discovered usage behaviours, occasions or emotions that consumers hold towards a particular brand to either emphasize or change these. In the bigger picture, insights can be leveraged to cement brands as leaders of social change, engaging authentically in societal issues to credibly demonstrate their brand purpose.

Uncovering usage behaviours

As brand creators, we know our brands and products inside out when it comes to how they should work and what they should stand for. But humans are unpredictable, and there is no saying what imaginative uses they will find for once our carefully constructed concepts are in their hands. This highlights the importance of consistently communicating with consumers to unveil what our brand really means to them, rather than what we think it should mean. Uncovering usage behaviours enables us to create campaigns that first of all accurately represent the consumer, but can also tap into the meaningful ways that a product can genuinely impact their life, no matter how big or small.

Bud Light demonstrated this through the release of their Lime-a-Rita, which reimagined their classic beer into a margarita cocktail. This side-step was based on the insight that in Asia, many consumers pour beer over ice. Whilst other consumers around the globe rejected this behaviour, adding a flavour to create a convenient combination of two popular drinks allowed Bud Light to capitalise on this behaviour, and bring new consumers into the brand.

Exploring usage occasions

Regardless of how creative and strategy-driven our communications are, the greatest opportunity a brand has to create an emotional connection is the moment of interaction between a consumer and the product; when all of the senses are engaged and raw emotions are organically elicited. By better understanding the occasions surrounding these interactions, insights can be used to highlight the emotions experienced as a result of engaging with our brands, allowing current customers to relive their most emotional moments with a brand and strengthen the relationship, and accurately depicting the experience for future consumers.

Beats by Dr. Dre tapped into a core human insights around the listening habits of athletes, which depicted that music was used to improve focus and build confidence. Through this, they were able to construct a campaign around these highly vulnerable and emotional moments, and demonstrate how their product could play a vital, emotional role in the lives of consumers who are engaged with sport. The campaign resulted in 130% growth in online headphone sales for the brand.

Demonstrating a higher purpose

In order to drive a change in behaviour, we must first understand the current behaviours and the motivations for change. Whilst human insight can help us to understand the behaviours and emotions directly surrounding our brands, they can also identify attitudes and behaviours towards greater social causes. Understanding the nuances of these behaviours allows us as brands to identify where in that journey we can credibly play, and leverage our broad appeal to help encourage and drive this change in an authentic way.

Ariel uncovered a human insight based around the statistic that, in India, washing was done by women in over 95% of households. Whist women had become bored of brand messages around cleaning, men presented a brand new opportunity for brand engagement that could also drive social change around the roles of men in households. The resulting campaign encouraged men to ‘share the load’, and included social media laundry challenges for men. By recognising how they as a brand could fit into a higher purpose in an authentic way, Ariel’s sales grew by 75% year on year, with over 2 million men pledging to do laundry.

Sharing broader emotional values

Of course, there may be times where as a brand there are less opportunities for an authentic way to drive change. However, as consumers continue to seek to engage with brands that not only stand for a higher purpose, but also help to represent their beliefs and values to others, understanding their values can provide equally as useful. Real human insight that gets under the skin of our consumers to really understand their values and belief systems can open up doors by allowing brands to create an emotional connection beyond the product, by demonstrating that the brand upholds the same emotional values as their consumers.

Through their many conversations with women, Gillette’s Venus realised that women believed that they were put in a box and defined by others, and that beauty brands largely upheld this belief by only focussing on a single dimension of women. This human insight led to the development of the ‘use your “and”’ campaign, depicting that women have many identities and qualities that define them. This empowering message demonstrated that Venus as a brand shared the values and beliefs of the women they target, encouraging greater emotional connections and relevance amongst their consumers.

Human insights don’t have to be ground-breaking, in fact some of the greatest insights are the simplest ones that have been staring us in the face the whole time, but they do need to be felt strongly and deeply in minds of the consumer. The key to leveraging these insights to create successful communications lies in realising exactly where and how your brand has credibility to play within these insights. Understanding exactly how to use these insights to a brand’s greatest advantage can unlock a whole range of opportunities to gain strong and meaningful connections with your consumers.


Holly Sandburg